Episode 37: Making Amends and Having Children
Does making amends decades after a wrong choice fix anything? Can having children actually be immoral? and what two women with Toledo connections have played a part in the history of Humanism?
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Doug Berger 0:01
Does making amends decades after a wrong choice fix anything? Can having children actually be immoral? And what two women with Toledo connections have played a part in the history of humanism. All of that, coming up on glass city humanist. Right now,
Voice Over 0:19
glass city humanist is an outreach project of the secular humanists of Western Lake Erie, building community through compassion and reason for a better tomorrow.
Doug Berger 0:45
Welcome to another episode of the glass city humanists. As always, I’m Doug Berger, your host. And first of all, I wanted to point out that today is the debut of our new cover art. Those that are watching this podcast on video will see it in the background behind me. Other people will see it in their podcast players when they’re playing the audio version. It’s something that I created myself. So please be gentle. And basically what it is, is at the top is red, red Text glass city. And there’s an outline of a bridge. And then below that is the word humanist. The outline of the bridge is the highest what we call here in Toledo, the high level bridge. It’s the Anthony Wayne bridge. It’s one of three or four bridges that crossed the Maumee river. And it was, it kind of looks like it kind of looks like the Ambassador Bridge that crosses the Detroit River that goes from Detroit to Windsor, if people are familiar with that bridge. Anyway, so Toledo lacks really any any real landmarks, you know, because I mean, when you look at New York City, they’ve got, you know, the the Empire State Building, before that they had the Twin Towers before 911. Detroit has the Renaissance Center, the Ambassador Bridge, Toronto has the the CN Tower. Toledo really doesn’t have much. The high level bridge is one landmark. And so I decided to include that. It’s not much if you have to explain it. But there it goes. So I hope you enjoy it. And please send me some comments whether you like it or not, we could go back to the old one. I also have another one that I created. But I want to stick with these for right now.
Doug Berger 2:51
But one of the one of the things that I wanted to talk to you today about was does making amends decades after a wrong choice, fix anything. And how I came up with that. That topic was that what I like to do in the evenings was watch TV, watch a lot of TV, especially with the pandemic, that was pretty much the only thing you could do. And one of the shows that I watch is the the reboot. Well, it’s been on for several years now several seasons. But it was a reboot of the TV show SWAT that I enjoyed in the 70s when I was a kid, and I really shouldn’t have because it was at the old show is really, really violent and dark and very rough. But this new one they they tried to they tried to do better with that. Now, a lot of these procedural cop procedural shows were affected by the protests and 2020 the defund the reallocate the funding for the police movement that came after George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis. And so a lot of these TV shows have had to kind of re kind of refocus on what they do. It’s, it’s not any more slam bam, violence, and you do this and, you know, they’re trying to balance how real police work should be going and, and also highlight every once in a while you have the bad apples, because again, not all police officers are bad apples. It’s just the problems that we have with the police and many people in minority communities have problem or when the bad apples aren’t dealt with. All right. So a lot of these cop shows they try to they try to tow that that balance of you know, showing real police work, showing and also showing the warts and all. So what they did was this recent episode had a woman who was a candidate for to come on to SWAT Currently, the cast includes one woman, her name is Chris, she is already on the SWAT team. And so anytime that a woman becomes involved with the SWAT team, she takes a special interest is, as women are want to do, you know, men do that to just kind of, you know, take new people under their under their wings or whatever. And so so there was this, this thing about sexism and the old boys network and, and, and it got to they got to talk about
Doug Berger 5:35
what the men called hazing or razzing or playing pranks and the women called harassment. Because it was the old boys network would harass these new women, women recruits. And in in, a lot of them would quit. So Chris wanted to prevent that from happening. Then this other character, Jim Street, we come to find out when he worked at a previous Police Department in nearby Los Angeles, he had taken part in harassing a woman, a new woman recruit to the police department putting naked pictures in her locker, cat call, you know, the whole nine yards and he went along with it. And Chris, kind of let him know that that wasn’t cool. wasn’t cool, then it’s not cool now and, and he had an epiphany that yeah, he says I was being a total jerk back then. So it got to him. And he really, it really got to him to where he decided that he was going to reach out to this woman police officer that he had harassed back in the day and apologize. Sounds good? Well, he comes to find out that she had shortly thereafter had left the force, she’d quit. And she was the owner of a surf shop in downtown Los Angeles or somewhere somewhere close by. So he decides that he’s going to make amends, he’s going to see her and apologize. So the first thing he does naturally, as he calls her, and it’s an awkward call. Because, you know, he’s coming at it from Hey, you know, I messed up. He goes, I want to talk to you about about your time on the force and, and wonder if we could talk it over. And she’s like, Well, I’m here at the store all the time. I don’t have time. He says, Well, I’ll come by what and she says we close at nine and she hangs up. You could just tell it was a really awkward phone call. You know, she didn’t want to talk to him, you could tell. So he’s like, kind of wondering why that is. And so he still goes through with it. And he goes one evening to this surf shop. And she knows immediately who he is why he’s there. And he attempts to make amends to apologize for his behavior when she was when they work together. And I’m sure this was probably 10 years, 10 years before this part of the show or some sometime sometime in the past. And she basically tells him, I’m not forgiving you. What you did was terrible. And she said, and he said, I heard you quit the force. I hope it wasn’t because of me. And she said yes, it was because of you and all of it. You know, it just she had been piled on by all these macho men, police officers thinking that they are God’s gifts to women, How dare a woman beyond our police force, and, you know, and really let her know it and her playing pranks and all this stuff. And, and he was like, you know, and Street’s like oh, and he apologizes again. And she says if you’re looking forgiveness, she says I can’t give it to you. She says I’m glad that you you’ve grown. But that’s it, you know, have a nice day. And so he ends up leaving. And so it got me thinking and I was talking it over with my fiance Shawn, that is there. Is there a point that decades after you make a poor choice? Let’s say you harass somebody, you bully them? Is there a point where if you try to make amends if you try to apologize, it’s just not worth it to meet that person that you that you caused harm to and apologize. And, and my take on it is that I was growing up in elementary school in particular, I was the target of some malicious bullying because of my weight because my last name was Berger, cause I was poor, all kinds of stuff that they could find out personal things about me that my father had died in Vietnam. So they called me a bastard. You know, it was just malicious. And I was thinking that I wouldn’t want to hear from any of those people today. You know, they’d be my age 50 something
Doug Berger 10:32
They would be, you know, 30 years, 35 years out of school. And I don’t know, I probably would not appreciate somebody coming up to me today. And saying, Doug, you know, back in elementary school, I bullied you. I’m sorry. You know, because the first thing I would be like, Well, you’ve known it was a bad thing to do. You knew it was bad the day that you did it. And you’re just coming now to apologize. You know, I’d be like, Where were you? You know, I waited quite a long time, there was a, there was maybe one or two people, particularly in Junior High in high school that eventually apologized to me for the way they treated me when I was younger. And I appreciated that. But if somebody one of my biggest bullies that I won’t name had comes to me or calls me up today. You know, I feel just like that woman in this episode of SWAT, I’d be like, you know, I am. If you’re looking for forgiveness, I can’t give it to you. You know, that’s, that’s water under the bridge. But then it got me thinking too, that I actually bullied somebody when I was a kid. Believe it or not. There’s this girl that we went to school with elementary school, and I lived in a trailer park. This is probably 78 79 I lived in a trailer park on the west side of Findlay. And we had to take a bus to school and the bus stop. Because we lived in a trailer park we couldn’t get door door to door service. So we had to go to a spot. And they had decided that this pizza place called Jack n Dos pizza that’s still there. Good pizza. If you’re in ever in Findlay eat at Jack n Dos I got excellent pizza. And, and we would wait for the bus there because the business was closed. So there wasn’t any traffic. And we would and there was an overhang on the building. So if it was raining or snowing, you know, we could be out of the weather a little bit and the bus would pull and we get on it. Well, at one year there was this girl. I can’t remember her name offhand. But she had his prosthetic leg. She had either lost it in an accident, or due to some kind of vascular problem. I am not I don’t remember. But she had a prosthetic leg. And it wasn’t one of those blade things that you see on the Olympics, the Paralympics, you know, this was you know, plastic, flesh colored plastic with the metal metal frame on the upper thigh and, and didn’t, the knee didn’t bend very well, and she dragged it, you know, stomp and you know, not, you know that we’ve come a long way since then. And kids start, you know, kids would bully her call he PegLeg. And I did it too. And the reason why I did it was because they weren’t bullying me. And that happens sometimes, you know, people people act, they make poor choices. Because other people are acting and making those poor choices. And it’s not, you know, you get to enjoy that part. You get to be one of the guys or one of the people one of the kids and and they’re not focusing on you. And for me, that was a good thing. I didn’t want them focusing on me. You know, you know fatso four eyes, booger, whatever, whatever they could come up with. They weren’t doing it to me they were doing it to her. So I joined him. And that I’m that I’m recounting that today, in 2022 says how much that affected me. It affected me. I was the bully and it affected me Can you imagine how it affected her? And I will not try to look her up because there’s just nothing I could say that you know it would be basically trying to make me feel better. And I think that’s what that’s true. That Jim Street character in the SWAT episode, he was trying to make himself feel better for being a jackass. And that is the wrong reason to make amends. To make yourself look better, what you want to do to make amends is you want to admit that you made a mistake, and how and attempt to try to make it up to the person that you made the mistake. And it’s entirely up to them whether or not they accept your amends or not.
Doug Berger 15:34
And I know that in some of those 12 Step programs, making amends is part of the program. And, and basically, it’s just acknowledging that you were a jerk, and that you’re going to try to do better and how can you make it up, but it has to be done closer to the time that you were being a jerk. You know, you can’t wait 30 or 40 years later and say, hey, you know, remember back 30 40 years ago when I did that thing to hey, you know, my bad? Because that’s what it sounds like. That’s what it sounds like you’re being flippant? My bad. Sorry. Are we cool? You know, somebody does that. My bad? Are we cool? No. You know, people. That’s why That’s why I hate bullying. You know, because I was a victim of it, I did it. I understand it. And that’s why it’s bad. It’s not a part of growing up. It should never be part of growing up. But so I just wanted to mention that, that show so if you’re watching in reruns or streaming it, you know, look that up look, that episode, I’ll have a link to the episode page on one of the sites probably IMDb or something like that. So you can look it up on your streaming service, or I think they I think they stream it on Paramount plus or something like that, or, or look for it in a repeat coming, you know, sometime this season. It was a really good episode. And like I said, I I don’t think that making amends that far. fixes anything, it really doesn’t. And again, if you’re doing it for yourself, that’s really the wrong reason to do it. You know, you want to make it up to the person that you hurt.
Voice Over 17:31
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Doug Berger 17:59
Another topic that I want to talk to you about was I had gotten contacted by a reporter at the Toledo Blade. That’s the local paper here in Toledo ad med Benny. And he was doing a feature piece on a philosophy a philosophy that some people have called anti-natalism. And I wasn’t familiar with that term. So I had to look it up. Well, he explained what it was. And I also looked it up. And basically, it’s a philosophy that some people have that bringing children into this world, having children is immoral. And they have different reasons. The article that was in the in the paper was a very good article. But basically he was trying to get the humanist take on it. The he had talked to other faith leaders, he had talked to a Catholic priest, Muslim Imam A Buddhist trying to get their take on it. And of course, that’s the big thing with some religions, procreation is the be all the end all for that religion. And, and I can see, you know, back in the old days, before modern medicine was really in its prime. It was very important for a lot of these families to have a lot of children because you had a farm to work and you had property and other goods that you wanted to pass on. And to be honest, some children’s didn’t make it out of infancy. Some children didn’t make it to adulthood. So a lot of these families would pump out children, you know, three or four or five, six at a time. And there’s some religions that that focus on that. There’s a religious right. extremist group called Quiverfull. And their basic philosophy is to have as many kids as you possibly can. Some political conservatives, religious political conservatives also do that. Because they think if they have more children, they will gain more power because they will outnumber the other people that they want to be against the anti the people that don’t believe like you do you want to outnumber them. And so there’s this group of people that they, for whatever reason, either the world is a piece of crap, burning dumpster fire. They also talk about climate change, is there going to be enough food and water to sustain growing population? And, and there’s some other reasons, I’ll have a link up to the article so you can read the full article. But so this reporter contacted me and wanted the humanist take on anti-natalism, I think, I hope I’m pronouncing it right, because I seriously I’m not familiar with the term. And so let me just read to you what what the comment that I made that was printed in the paper. Said, Douglas Berger president, the secular humanists of Western Lake Erie said that none of his group members subscribe to anti-natalism, but that humanists in general are concerned about unchecked population growth, because of the effect on our planet’s resources. However, that doesn’t mean they support universal childlessness, especially any kind that’s imposed from above. And then they have a quote for me, we strongly feel any family planning should be up to the individuals involved, without interference from the government or religion. The decision to have children or not, should be based on situational ethics, such as can I afford to bring a child into this world, for example. And so that’s pretty much the humanist consensus. We are concerned about unchecked population growth. But one of the things that we don’t believe in, is having anything forced on us by government or religion. That’s why most humanist oppose abortion laws that have been coming up in the States, especially here in Ohio. That’s why humanists don’t support the eugenics movement. That was a movement back in the 20s and 30s, that subjectively decided, certain people for suggestive reasons could not have children. So we don’t support that.
Doug Berger 22:49
We had Margaret Sanger, who was a humanist of the year in the 50s, who started Planned Parenthood and came up and helped find funding and, and crusaded for creating the birth control pill. You know, that was because she was concerned about population growth, unchecked population growth. And so we are we have a strong history humanists have a strong history in supporting an individual’s choice, whether or not to have children, it should be entirely up to them. And, and I understand I understand people concerns about climate change, and that the world seems like it’s on on fire all the time. And, and some of the, you know, we have the war and you in Ukraine and pandemics, you know, it’s scary. And there’s a lot of people that that decided that they weren’t going to have children because of that. And humanists. As far as I’m concerned, as far as I know. And the readings I’ve done, we’re cool with people deciding not to have children. And so I thank Ahmed, the reporter at the Toledo Blade for including us, including the humanist perspective, even had my picture in the printed format. And so I have all that up, I have links to the SHoWLE website, where I have scans of the printed article, so you can see my picture. And so we’re pretty happy to do that.
Voice Over 24:44
For more information about the topics in this episode, including links used, please visit the episode page at glass city humanist dot show.
Doug Berger 24:58
The month of March is one Women’s History Month. And what I wanted to do with this segment is I wanted to highlight two women who have Toledo connections, who actually contributed in a positive way, and in a big way to the Humanist Movement overall in history. One of the first women that I wanted to talk about today is Gloria Steinem. She was a feminist. She was awarded the American Humanist Association’s humanist of the Year award in 2012, for her work as a feminist and activist for women’s issues. And I wanted to read a selection, a brief selection, from her acceptance speech that she gave at the AHA convention in 2012. And she talks about why she is in the room why she is receiving the award. And she starts out she says:
Doug Berger 25:56
“There’s an exceptional book by Sven Lungvist, called exterminate all the brutes, about the invention of racism to justify taking over land in Africa and the Americas, and so on, we can still see that wherever there is more racial division, there is more sexism. Wherever there is one kind of caste system, there is another, we can exactly predict the amount of violence in a society by the amount of violence in a family, which comes up in order to control women as a means of reproduction. The more hierarchy there is in the family, the more likely people are to believe in other hierarchies based on race and class. So it is a profoundly deeply political process. And we’re still experiencing the demonization of any sexual expression that doesn’t end in conception, and doesn’t take place inside patriarchal marriage. The good news is, we’re communal creatures. And what’s both good and bad about being human is what is that we’re adaptable? We survive. Because we’re infinitely adaptable, we come to feel that what we’ve experienced as normal is normal. And we’re vulnerable, because we’re infinitely adaptable. But I’m proud to be with you here. Because this is a room that celebrates the invisible in our spirits, and the visible in the world. This is a room that understands that what is valuable is the now is us that we are linked and not ranked, and that we are striving to be in a circle again. And that religion is literally the deepest form of politics in the sense of power structure. And only when we see beyond that, and look at the reality of each other, do we understand that there are more differences between two individual women than there are between men and women is groups, that there are more differences between two white people actually beige, or between two African American or Latin American or Asian American people, then there are between those so called racial groups. Indeed, race itself is a fiction, a minor adaptation to climate, as we all started from the same place.”
Doug Berger 28:08
And I thought that was an excellent take. That’s pretty much humanism. That’s what we talk about all the time. You know, these labels and, and created, created hierarchies and, and trying to support women and, and their rights, their rights to reproductive freedom. And I thought that really made sense. So it was really good. She was given the humaneness of the Year Award, just just for her, her body of work. She should have received one probably before 2012. The other woman that I want to mention about that has a Toledo connection is Madalyn Murray O’Hair. Now, some of you may not remember her name or might not even know her name. Madalyn Murray O’Hair was a plaintiff in the case of Murray V Curlett 1963. That challenged Bible reading and prayer recitation of Maryland Public Schools. It was decided along with another case at the time, and basically what it did is it prohibited religion in public schools. Abington School District v. Schempp. And and the court voted eight to one in Schempp’s favor saying that mandatory public Bible readings by students were unconstitutional. prayer in schools other than Bible readings had been ruled as unconstitutional year before in Engel v. Vitale and so Madalyn Murray O’Hair won that that case her court case about Bible reading in schools. She then eventually settled in Austin, Texas and founded American Atheists.
Doug Berger 29:56
Now, you’re like thinking Well, Doug, how has that connected to Toledo and to humanism. Well, growing up, she grew up. She spent her teenage years in Rossford, Ohio, which is across the river from Toledo across the Maumee. It’s where they have a glass plant. Owens glass Libby Owens Ford glass Auto Glass plant is in Rossford. rostered is between Toledo and Perrysburg. So it’s right there right on the right on the river. And she graduated from Rossford High School. So she lived long enough in Rossford to graduate from their high school. I know it’s a tenuous connection, but that’s it. How she is connected to humanism is a bit of a hearsay when I lived in Columbus and was part of the humanist group in Columbus, Ohio, one of the people that was a friend of our group that came to some meetings, attended our banquets was Frank Zindler, and Frank Zindler, has written some books about atheism. He knew Madalyn Murray O’Hair. Personally, he worked for American Atheist for time. He was the editor of the magazine, the member magazine, and I had a chance to talk to him. And we got to mention, sadly, Madalyn Murray O’Hair was murdered in 1995. I believe it was by a disgruntled former employee who happened to have a long rap sheet. Very, very tragic, very tragic end to her. But he personally knew her. And so we got we were at some event or some meeting, we were talking about Madelyn. And he told me something interesting. He was telling me that, that she was asked to be on the board of the American Humanist Association, back in the late 60s, early 70s. I believe this should have been when they were headquartered in Yellow Springs, Ohio. And, and so she agreed. And she didn’t last very long. She only lasted a few meetings. And the reason why that she quit, was because there was too many men on the board. And they did not like women. They did not appreciate women being on the board. And they gave her a hard time maybe not harassing or anything. But, you know, when you get a group of men together, and they’re joking around and stuff, that’s what happens. And so she ended up quitting. And that kind of caused a rift between American Atheists and humanists groups. She wrote some pretty nasty diatribes against humanism. She was jealous because humanists stole her thunder from what she had planned for atheism. She, she was very forward thinking, in that she believed that atheism was a philosophy of life. It wasn’t just separation of church and state, it just wasn’t, there is no God. She believed that, that you could apply atheism to, to everything in, in the world. It was a way of life, much like humanism is humanism is a secular way of life. It’s not necessarily atheistic, because we, you could be a believer and be a humanist. But but so she was kind of upset about that. And, and there was some bad, bad blood, and it showed up on on the American Atheist website years ago. And I had talked to one of their state directors when they had state directors, oh, that the other thing too was that they had American Atheist chapters in different cities. And for whatever mercurial reason, she decided there was going to be no more chapters, so she closed them all up. And part of that benefit was that some of these atheist went to humanist groups. That’s how our group in Columbus, Humanist Community of Central Ohio, we got an influx of people when they shut down the Columbus chapter of American Atheists.
Doug Berger 34:20
And so you’re like thinking Well, Doug house and advance humanism. It’s just that, that she had, she had the foresight, she had the vision of atheism being more than just no God. And that’s one of the reasons why I became a humanist. You know, I was an atheist, but I wanted to deal and address the problems in the world of social justice issues. And just saying there is no god that doesn’t help you address that. You have to, you have to get involved in the community. You have to stand up you have to be an activist. Like she was she was an activist all through her life. there if you go on YouTube look up Phil Donahue. He was a talk show host back in the 70s. And he interviewed hers several times and, and yeah, she could be spicy. She could be spicy in her beliefs and, and, and that’s why she got the publicity that she did because they knew that she was going to be entertaining. You know she, William F. Buckley interviewed her and they had a Tete a Tete. And that’s interesting to watch on video too on YouTube. But But yeah, so Madalyn Murray O’Hair was from you know, grew up in Rossford graduated from Rossford High. And so that’s how she’s connected to Toledo.
Voice Over 35:47
Thank you for listening. For information about the topics in this episode, please visit the episode page at glasscityhumanist.show. Glass City Humanist is an outreach of the secular humanists of Western Lake Erie and is supported in part by a grant by the American Humanist Association. The AHA can be reached at americanhumanist.org SHoWLE can be reached at humanistswle.org. Glass City Humanist is hosted, written and produced by Douglas Berger, and he is solely responsible for the content our theme music is Glass City Jam composed using the ampify studio See you next time.
Transcript is created by machine and is approximate.
©2022 Glass City Humanist and is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
[Transcript also available for offline reading HERE]
Written, produced, and edited by Douglas Berger and he is entirely responsible for the content. Incidental voice overs by Shawn Meagley
The GCH theme is “Glass City Jam” composed using Ampify Studio
This episode by Glass City Humanist is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.