Pupa and Drumpf

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction and does not symbolize or encourage the forming of any plan similar to actions carried out by any characters present in the story. That being said, wouldn’t it be great if the solution were that simple?

Pupa was a fairly average 19 year old citizen of Atro City. Her parents were well off and she never went without. Pupa enjoyed barbecues, spending time with her friends, and going to the shooting range. Pupa was an excellent shooter. Pupa got her first gun when she was only 6, a pink 22 rifle. Shooting was still a rush for her. It made her feel powerful. But Pupa had no reason to need something to empower her. She was wealthy, attractive, and white. The world around her seemed to bow to her every wish. Her mother and father provided everything she could ever want or need.

Pupa felt rather untouchable until the day of the bombing. The walls of her classroom rattled as the explosion tore apart the other side of her school. Media sensationalized the event, making instant celebrities out of the younger children responsible for the bomb. The children were from Atro City’s sister city, Auda City. Pupa had spent some time there in the summers when she was younger. Their summer camp had a waterside. And, of course, Pupa’s parents wanted her to have whatever she wanted.

Everyone looked for someone to blame. Was it violence on TV or bad parenting? Was it bullying or their music? Groups of people took to the streets in protests that began peaceful enough, demanding the government do something to prevent something like this from happening again. Meanwhile, Pupa’s parents fought regularly. This was unlike them, but Pupa knew they were just scared. Everyone was just scared.

After months of chaos, Drumpf began gaining popularity. He told the people of Atro City that the true threats were outside, that we should not fear those like us, but should fear those different from us. The people of Atro City liked this because they were no longer the accused. The villains laid outside the walls of the city. Walls? There were no walls. but Drumpf could build them. And a dome over the city so no villain could climb over. They could take all of the outsiders and push them out. Anything different was to be feared. This gave Atro City’s people solace as they were not different. They were like Drumpf.

For the first time in Pupa’s life, she felt different. Although the bomb threatened her life in a very real way, Pupa did not see how banning all outsiders added up to a rational response. And surely not all citizens of Auda City posed a threat. Media constantly streamed speeches given by Drumpf. Pupa watched in awe as citizens of Atro City took their cue from Drumpf, resorting to violence, not only against citizens of Auda City, but anyone different. Citizens of Auda City protested, citing the peaceful history between Auda City and Atro City. Rioting began in the streets of Atro Cty. Fires consumed entire neighborhoods. Drumpf obtained a near godly status in the eyes of his followers. Rumors that he needed not sleep or eat filled the media. Drumpf even bragged that he only slept four hours each night, that that was all he needed. Pupa’s parents yelled in the room nearby as she grabbed her pack off the kitchen counter.

Drumpf began forming a militia. If the governing entity wouldn’t do anything about the threat of Auda City, they would. Screaming angrily over a crowd of citizens of Atro City, Drumpf insisted they gather their weapons and… Drumpf fell back on the stage. The crowd stared at Pupa atop the building across the street as she slowly lowered her rifle to the ground. “She’s got a gun!”, one man shouted, and the crowd dispersed with an urgency. Pupa sat with her back against the wall with lined the edge of this building and snacked on a sleeve of crackers as angry followers of Drumpf banged against the door she had reinforced with several benches.

The next morning, Drumpf appeared live on TV. Pupa watched the TV in the bar across the alley from her post atop the building. He apologized to the citizens of Atro city and the citizens of Auda City, explaining he was just overworked and felt much better after his 12 hours of sleep. Drumpf explained there was no reason to be afraid and that he could see how the acts of two misguided children did not merit a war. Pupa loaded her tranquilizer gun into her pack and began disassembling the blockade of benches.

Is hell real? If so, Who ends up in hell?


Phil Force, Survivor of Brain Cancer and Author of Letters From Limbo

This is a tricky question. It is really hard to provide an absolute answer without offending someone. Many of us spend our whole lives trying to please a higher power in the aim of gaining His/Her/It’s favor and winning a spot in Heaven while simultaneously avoiding Hell. Others see ideas of Heaven and Hell as a sort of behavior modification. If one is threatened with the punishment of Hell or bribed with the reward of Heaven, he or she may be more likely to engage in behaviors valued by society. The same sort of behavior modification efforts may be found in the cultural practice of Santa Clause. Children are taught that good behavior leads to rewards of presents and that bad behavior leads to punishment, a kind of taunting in the form of a gift of coal. Like the Santa Clause story, there is no lack of consequence for either path, good or evil. There is either reward or punishment via lack of reward.

Some believe those who commit evil are sent to Hell. Others say, the only way to avoid Hell is to accept Jesus into your heart. Let’s tackle the second one first. Would a just god send people to an eternity of suffering simply for believing something other than teachings of Christianity? Would this mean that all who do not believe Jesus died for their sins are evil? This seems rather irrational.

Now let’s look at the first. Who among us has not behaved in a selfish way at one point or another? Who among us has not engaged in behavior someone else would deem “wrong”? Even though we may view our own actions as morally wrong in hind-sight, I believe we all have to feel justified in our actions our we wouldn’t engage in them. Even if we know we will regret said actions, we feel justified at the time we act. Society may impose rules of morality, which would seem to complicate and simultaneously simplify our views of right and wrong, but our true measure of morality comes from within. Would a just god send you to Hell for acting according to your own measure of right and wrong?

Whether Hell is a real place or not, efforts to win God’s grace would seem to, at times, work to benefit us, as a species. Other times, we fight over who is right, killing and dying for our beliefs. The question may not be “Is hell real?”, but rather, do you like living in a world where people believe it is?

The Choice

There is this sort of trick I use to pull myself out of any sadness. If I am feeling sad and want the sadness to cease, I just stop being sad. I know this may seem like pseudo-psychology. But it is one of truest things in my life. When I decide I want to be happy and then act on the desire, I become happy. The fact that I can choose to be happy gives me a sense of control, the understanding that the world around me cannot victimize me, because I am in control of how I react to it. When choosing to be happy, I feel this connection with everyone and everything. It’s like this network of love, of energy, and of God. It’s electric and simultaneously peaceful. Skeptics to such claims point to the fact that the pleasure centers of our brains determine emotional state as a result of the chemical present. But perspective can alter emotional states and perspectives are malleable. Serotonin and Dopamine light up the receptors in our brains when we have an experience we relate to happiness. And our experiences are based on our perspectives.

Just as my ability to choose happiness can inspire me to be happy, the sceptic may feel trapped by his or her inability to escape sadness. These are both self-fulfilling. It may be hard to believe happiness is a choice when one has struggled with sadness most of his or her life. Sadness has always acted like quicksand. The more we struggled, the more we sank into it. On the other side of it, if we claim responsibility, not guilt, but responsibility, for our emotional states and take control, we can feel however we want to feel.