Ronald Haines, Author

Immerse Yourself in the Adventure and Romance of Historical Fiction

Author: RonaldHaines (page 1 of 4)

Writing Again

I’m finally done with the fallout from last year’s Hurricane Matthew and am back to writing again.  After the new roof was (finally) finished on the house earlier this year we started work on the inside. Ceilings re-done, walls fixed, and the whole house interior painted.  Of course, things couldn’t stop there so we re-did the kitchen with new appliances and replaced the windows with hurricane-proof ones (the balcony doors are hurricane-proof french doors).  While on a roll, I then went and rearranged and painted the studio.  In this time frame we also replaced the water heaters in both places (the one at the house failed on Easter Sunday, the one in the studio was preemptively replaced since it was old).  Whew!

Anyhow, I’m all set up again at the studio and am organizing the scribbles and notes I made over these past months and now have several books outlined, so I imagine there will be one or two finished before year end.  I’ve also set up the recording equipment I purchased at the end of last year and plan to try my hand (or voice) at recording my first audio-book shortly.

My focus going forward is continuing to write about the pirates who inhabited these islands almost 300 years ago.   Fascinating details have emerged from my research which puts several of the characters in a new light.  For instance, some of them were organizing a Jacobite fleet to join with other supporters of the Stuart line to attack England in an attempt overthrow King George.   This was probably the real reason behind Blackbeard (Edward Thatch) being considered such a threat and so quickly targeted and eliminated by naval forces.

It is also clear that it wasn’t the tea tax that ticked off the American colonists, it was the attempted British tax on rum; so much so that the pirates of the Bahamas were hired to smuggle it.  Then, when rum manufacturing began in the American colonies, these same pirates ran molasses, the raw ingredient in rum, from French Martinique.  This was a dangerous occupation because Britain and France were at war, meaning that the American colonists were trading with the enemy.  If either the British or the French navy intercepted these ships, all aboard would be immediately hanged.  And on top of that they also had the Spanish navy to deal with.  In spite of these hazards, however, the molasses continued to flow and rum ended up becoming a critical part of the colonial economy.

Lots more to come.

Online again

After hurricane Matthew hit the island on October 6th we went five days without water, 25 days without electricity, and 42 days without cable and connection to the internet.   During this recovery period I was focused on making repairs around the house and re-building my shed which had been completely demolished by the 140 mph winds.   Without the internet I went for over 6 weeks without writing any blog posts or other online activities.

Life on the island is now returning to normal, but this experience did give me the opportunity to reflect and realize how I had fallen back into my old entrepreneurial habits.   At the time the hurricane hit I had been posting a blog every day, was actively participating in internet groups, and was attending several online webinars each week;  all activities aimed at helping promote my books.   This was in addition to writing.  The leisurely writing life that I retired to a year ago was evolving into a business to manage.

Yes, all these activities do increase book sales, but my books also sell quite nicely ‘organically’ by just being available and by word of mouth.  Lifestyle being much more important to me than building another business,  I’m not going to return to these marketing activities and will once again just be writing.

Well, not just writing.  In addition to having my works published in both print and e-books, I am going to expand into audiobooks and will be reading them myself.  I’ve invested in some recording equipment which I’ll be setting up in my studio over the next week, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this turns out.

I’ll let you know my progress in future (but not as frequent) blog posts.

 

Something is Wrong, Happiness is a Choice

Something is wrong with the way people are living their lives:
  • When the most common regret of dying people is that they didn’t live their lives being true to themselves, and instead did what others expected of them.
  • When people suppress their feelings in order to keep peace with others and settle for a mediocre existence, never becoming the person they are capable of being.

    something is wrong

    something is wrong

  • When fear of change causes people to pretend to others and to themselves that they are content, when deep within they long to laugh and have the silliness of childhood back in their lives.
  • When a third (32%) of Americans admit that they regret many of the major life decisions they have made and wish they had taken more risks when making those decisions.
  • When asked to design their ideal life, half (49%) of Americans respond that they would like to live a life unique to their own interests instead of following a traditional path.
  • When people do not realize that happiness is a choice they can make by breaking free of the comfort of the familiar and the established.

Do not wait for the clarity of impending death before you realize that something is wrong in your own life when you can gain that clarity now, and live a life filled with happiness and personal satisfaction. Follow my blog at the existentialhumanism.com website and also sign up for your FREE pre-release copy of my upcoming book about how to live an authentic life.

For more information about some of the source material for this subject, click below:

Allianz Life commissioned a study which was released in May, 2016 called One-Third of Americans Regret Major Life Choices, But Many Embrace Newfound Opportunity to “Rechart” Course.

The Guardian posted a story in February, 2012 about the Top Five Regrets of The Dying.

Science versus Religion is Political Media Manipulation

In spite of the way it is so often positioned as science versus religion in the media, science is neither the opposite of nor is it opposed to religion. Science is simply the tool that humans use to search for truth.  In fact, science has historically been sponsored by religions that have used it as a means to study the laws behind the physical world.  While there have been significant clashes throughout history between Christianity and the emergence of new truths that science uncovers before they gain acceptance, the current religion versus science debate is really not reflective of Christian religions as a whole.

Throughout history many scientists have been quite successful in reconciling their religions with science and have proceeded to make tremendous contributions to humanity. Gregor Mendel was an Austrian monk who first proposed the basis of heredity and spawned the science of genetics, and the first advocate of the Big Bang theory was a Roman Catholic priest named Georges Lemaître who wrote about a ‘creation event’ at the beginning of the universe.

So where does the current science versus religion (specifically Christianity) debate come from? While many Christians today accept that their faith is personal and does not belong in politics, there are certain fundamentalist factions, such as the charles-robert-darwin-62912creationists, who actively promote their agendas.  Some have tried to present their beliefs using a pseudo-scientific format which they call intelligent design, which states that the biblical story of creation is the literal truth.  They have brought this argument into the political forefront, and militant atheists have responded in kind which has resulted in media sensationalism.  Curiously, even though Charles Darwin was a Christian, it is his theories of evolution and natural selection that have become the fodder for this needless debate between creationists and militant atheists.  Mainstream Christianity, on the other hand, has pretty much accepted that evolution can fit in with their views of the universe.

Much of the friction between Christian fundamentalists and militant atheists is really just media manipulation being used by politicians for personal gain. This so called science versus religion debate is actually driven by politicians taking positions of support behind these two extremes in order to gather votes.  It is this hidden agenda of politicians using their established publicity machines that has enabled the views of both Christian fundamentalists and militant atheists to dominate the media as they attempt to cash in on the huge block of voters that each side represents.  Both sides are being played, and the ongoing ‘debate’ seen in the media has, in reality, very little to do with either science or religion.

Choices and the Pursuit of Happiness

The recognition that human beings are free gives us the individual freedom to make whatever choices we want for our lives. But anyone who embraces their individual freedom must also accept the personal responsibility to make it happen.  Simply wishing for something to happen is not going to do anything; no external force is going to give it to you.  Your life is completely up to you, and you are solely responsible for it.

choices-bridgeWhile you are free to make your own choices, it is obvious that the choices you make will be influenced by the society and culture you are in, and that is fine. The key is to live the life that you want, and many of the things that influenced you prior to this point are important to you so of course you’re going to keep them. The important first step is to describe what the ideal life means to you before you can determine how you are going to get there. This isn’t going to be physical things such as possessions, but about how you want to feel.  Knowing that, you are able to examine the various ways you can achieve those feelings.  This is your goal.  It is then your responsibility to set a plan in motion to get there, to do what it takes, to achieve it.

You may be wondering if taking such action, veering from the path of conformity, is risky. Not at all, the biggest risk is to plod along and end your life with the words, “I wish I had,” on your lips.  Take heart that it isn’t the achievement of the goal that makes you free.  It is the journey, knowing you are in control of your life that makes it so:

Man is a rope stretched between the animal and the Superman — a rope over an abyss. A dangerous crossing, a dangerous wayfaring, a dangerous looking-back, a dangerous trembling and halting. What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not a goal. ~ Frederick Nietzsche

The American founding father, Thomas Jefferson, hit it on the nose when he penned:  “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” in the declaration of independence. Jefferson understood that happiness in life it was all about pursuing one’s goals, not necessarily achieving them.  If you do achieve a particular goal, you will simply have to create another so as to always feel the happiness of freedom.  Your life is all about the choices that you make for it.

An Ideal Religion Checklist

For an individual who might be considering a different religion, an ideal religion checklist could be very useful.

What is religion

Before defining the components of the ideal religion, we should first define what religion is.  If you asked people that question in Europe or the Americas you might get a definition of Christianity, whereas in China the answer might be Buddhism or in the Middle East it would be Islam.

Some people might say religion requires a belief in god or gods. But there are many atheistic religions in the world, and in the United States of America the government recognizes atheism itself as a religion.

Another response may be that religion at least involves a belief system, but humanism and other religions who extol questioning actually shun the concept of belief.

We therefore need a definition that all religions would all fit into, a working definition of what religion actually is. Perhaps a more fundamental approach is not to analyze what religion is, but to examine why it exists and how it is structured.

Religion provides answers

Throughout history religions have arisen in an attempt to provide the answers to questions about life in general. They developed from within various cultures and reflect the body of knowledge available to those people at that time.  Religion therefore initially exists to provide the individual with answers in the form of a structured view of the world.

Religion provides community

Humans are social creatures, and religion is also is a social construct offering the individual a sense of belonging or community with other people with like minds by providing them with a common world view. A second definition of religion, then, is that it gives the individual a sense of community.

Religions create institutions

As religions develop over time they become hierarchical institutions and soon become focused on the institution itself rather than the individuals they were originally intended to serve. They also elevate certain members of their societies into privileged ‘priest classes’ who then develop self-serving resistance to change and promote themselves in an authoritative position of the religion over the followers.

When they offer only static solutions religions fail to allow for the dynamic of change as new information is discovered. Rather than seeking fresh answers to new questions, institutionalized religions instead fall back on established dogma and view alternative ideas or emerging religions as threats which they feel compelled to oppose, often by force or exclusion from the society itself.  The more they become institutionalized, the more religions lose their ability to provide satisfying answers.

Religions create group mentality

As religious institutions become more intolerant they cause their followers to fall into an ‘us versus them’ mentality and even try to deprive them of the freedom to associate with those who have conflicting views without condemnation.

Simone de Beauvoir, in her book The Ethics of Ambiguity, argues that embracing our own personal freedom requires us to fight for the freedoms of all. This sentiment can appropriately be used when discussing freedom of religion and strongly suggests that, to be successful, a religion should also recognize other religions and respect the choices made by individuals to subscribe to whichever one works the best for them.

An Ideal Religion

Since humans are social creatures with the need to ask questions about everything, an ideal religion should be able to satisfy those needs without being threatened by the dynamic of change as new information is discovered.   An ideal religion would be flexible enough to embrace and incorporate these changes, or help guide the individual to their own answers by providing them with the means to seek knowledge and truth on their own.

Ideal Religion Checklist

Using the information from above, we are then able to define an ideal religion as one which has the following five characteristics:

  1. Satisfies an individual’s need for knowledge about their relationship with the world
  2. Is focused on the individual’s needs rather than on preserving the group
  3. Provides a shared worldview with others
  4. Is flexible and allows for updates as new information becomes available
  5. Is tolerant of other points of view and treats all humans with respect

We now have a simple checklist for the individual seeking a different religion to evaluate it.

Religion and Angst in Today’s World

We hear a lot in the news nowadays about the newest religion being no religion at all as many people are abandoning their long held religious beliefs. Established religious doctrine is simply no longer working for them as they try to make sense of the modern world, and the resulting feeling of unrest, angst, is causing a significant religious exodus.

How is it that religions that have been a source of answers and comfort for people for hundreds, in some cases thousands, of years suddenly appear to be broken? Certainly there are multiple and varied reasons on the individual level, but by standing back and taking a big picture look the driving force behind this movement becomes quite clear.  Religions arose concurrently with civilizations in more-or-less homogeneous, stable societies, but societies today are rapidly becoming less homogeneous and people are being exposed to new information and scientific discoveries on an almost daily basis.

While increased knowledge and more information about the world is certainly a positive occurrence, in many cases it has caused people to question what their particular religions may have led them to believe, and this conflict between long held beliefs and current information encourages them to reach out for answers to calm their growing feelings of angst.

People have historically looked to their religions for a sense of comfort, community and a ‘track to run on’ through life, and to give them a sense of who they are relative to the world at large. Unfortunately, when people reach out today in search of answers the traditional solutions offered by their religious leaders frequently results in more angst.  Worse, doing so often compounds it by adding a sense of guilt about this “incorrect thinking” which many find they can do nothing about.  Dissatisfied and not willing to simply stop thinking, these are the people who are leaving their religions in search of something that will be a better fit for them.

But where can they go? As human beings they seek answers to the big questions about life, but what religion exists for the individuals who enjoy free thinking and constantly question the nature of the world around them?

By combining components of the philosophy of existentialism and the religion of humanism, existential humanism offers a solution.  Existential humanism provides the dynamic means to obtaining satisfying answers about life, truth, infinity, and other big questions, which is missing from most traditional religions that remain static in a changing world.  Furthermore, existential humanism is about the individual, and not the religious organization.

To learn more about Existential Humanism go to www.existentialhumanism.com

 

 

 

 

 

Humanism Connects the Individual to the World

Humanism embraces the ability of the individual to bring advances to society using reason in the pursuit of knowledge, and as such it may well be referred to as a religion based on reason.

Erich Fromm wrote that the person who accepts their freedom, whom he called the individualized person, may often feel left without the primary ties of belonging. In order to remain authentic, then, it is important to have a solution which Fromm called unity, a sense of oneness between the individual and the “natural and human world outside.”

Humanism provides the individualized person with this unity; the ability to be an active participant in the world without losing their freedom.

Humanism

There are many different types of humanism which range from the traditional religious, including Christian, to the agnostic and atheist, and people often make a distinction between what is called religious humanism and secular humanism. What they all have in common are three core principles, nature, rationality and belonging, which make up what humanism is actually all about.

Nature

First, humanism embraces the natural world and recognizes that humans are part and product of nature itself, tracing a heritage that goes back to when life first appeared on our planet over two billion years ago. Erich Fromm introduced the term biophilia, or love of life, to describe this human orientation of being attracted to all that is alive and vital.

Rationality

Second, a humanist uses reason and questions everything, both religious and secular, in their search for truth, and they challenge accepted doctrines rather than simply accepting established creed. Consider how much of human progress has been in defiance of religion or of the accepted natural order.

This emphasis on rationality in no way puts humanists in conflict with existentialists, however. On the contrary, intuition, hunches, speculation, and flashes of inspiration, products of the creative mind so prized by existentialists, while not considered to be valid means to acquire knowledge, are embraced by humanists because they are the sources of ideas that will often lead to new ways of looking at the world.  These ideas, when assessed rationally using the scientific method, often lead to alternative approaches for solving problems.

Belonging

Third, humanism provides the individual with a sense of belonging to the world by emphasizing that we are the beneficiaries of the collective knowledge of all of the humans that came before us. Additionally, if we wish to, we have the ability to make our own contribution to this ever lengthening legacy of humankind.  Relishing the adventure of being part of new discoveries, seeking new knowledge, exploring new options, and then sharing what we have learned with others forms the commonality that connects humanists together.  The products of our creativity and rational thinking are what enable us to establish ties with the world at large.

 

…the above is an excerpt from the upcoming book:  How to Deal with Angst & Make Sense of The World with Existential Humanism

Who You Are and What You Do

Who you are as an individual is so often not top of mind in day to day life. You need to be in the world to earn money to cover life’s expenses, and the occupation you perform defines you to the world around you.  You have been objectified, but chances are very good that you have also allowed that objectification to influence how you view yourself.  So much so that you may have even come to associate who you are with your occupation.  But what you do is simply a means to an end, it is not who you are.

Acceptance of being objectified starts early in life with virtually every parent quite innocently asking their children the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The answers generally come back as an occupation such as a doctor or an astronaut, but that isn’t really the correct answer.  The correct answer to that question should be, “Me.”  The parent asked the wrong question.  Instead, what they should be asking is, “What do you want to do when you grow up?

Who you are is your authentic self, defined by you, but hidden from others in the world. You may not be consciously aware of it, but the products of your occupation are very likely tied to who you are.  After necessary expenses you tend to spend your disposable income on things that satisfy you or make you happy.  Since you derive benefits from the way you spend the money you earn, examining what those benefits are may help you to connect with your authentic self.  Once you break who you are away from what you do, you can set goals that will provide you with true satisfaction in your life.

Goals

Goals should not be considered in light of external things but in terms of the benefit that those things give you.  For instance, you may want to be (or already are) a lawyer. The benefit might be the intellectual challenge it provides or the satisfaction you gain through helping others.  Yes, there is the income to consider, but money itself is never a goal, it is simply the intermediary means of exchange between what you do and what you desire.  If you really think money should be a goal for you then look to the story of King Midas.

Drill down to find out what motivates you and what you really want in life. Think about lifestyle and how you would like to feel every day.   What does the money you earn do for you?  Perhaps it enables you to take a vacation, two weeks of bliss on the beach.  If while there you find you are truly happy and begin to dream of spending every day on the beach, you may have discovered a true goal for your authentic self.

Action Plan

Using the benefit of being happy by spending every day on the beach as your goal, for example, you can then develop a process to take you there. This is called an action plan is simply a series of sequential steps to follow.

You first identify how much money you would need to live on if you spent every day on the beach, and then determine how to earn it. Maybe being a lawyer is a good idea in this regard because it can bring in a lot of money, so being a lawyer becomes an action that will help you to achieve your goal.  The key here is that being a lawyer is no longer the goal, but simply a part of the process.  By staying focused on your goal you forgo frivolous purchases and willingly set aside the majority of the disposable income you make towards reaching it.

So you play the role of a lawyer, the world objectifies you as a lawyer, but you remain authentic by recognizing that this is what you need to do in order to be able to spend your life on the beach.  You feel wonderful every day knowing you are on the journey to the accomplishment of your goal.

What you do is not who you are.

Existential Humanism Explained

 

Existential humanism is about enriching an individual’s life by helping to make sense of the world.

Religions provide a sense of belonging, being a part of society as a whole. People often remain with the traditional religion they were raised in, partly so as not to be ostracized from the community they live in.  But there is currently a lot of questioning about traditional religions, the result of us now living in less homogenous societies and being bombarded with new information on an ongoing basis.  And for a growing number people the solutions that traditional religions offer are no longer sufficient for answering their questions about the world as it is today.  This conflict between long held beliefs and current information is resulting in people reaching out for different answers about the world they live in.

In this video I explain how the concept of existential humanism came about and give a short introduction as to what it may accomplish for those who might be seeking a new solution that better fits into the modern world.

By combining components of the philosophy of existentialism and the religion of humanism, existential humanism can provide satisfying answers about life, truth, infinity, and other big questions by providing for a dynamic which is missing from traditional religions.  For many people who have yet to find satisfying answers to their questions of life existential humanism may be the ideal solution: a dynamic religion for those who think and question.

This is not about being critical of any religion, an essential part of this approach is the equal recognition of all religions and the freedom of individuals to follow whatever path they wish.

I conclude this short video with my perspective on life:

Life is wonderful, live it, enjoy it, be a part of it, but don’t diminish it by attempting to give it a reason for existing

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