Assumptions and Exclusions

Some thoughts on the national conversation…

Buckle up, this is going to get bumpy and long…

Recently, I had a friend post a comment on one of my social media posts. My comment, on the title picture of this article, questioned to validity of the national conversation with regards to being gay being a ‘choice’ or a genetic pre-disposition. My own point of view is; what does it matter? We are a free Country! The entire conversation is a pointless red herring designed to keep us from discussing things that truly matter.

In response that that, my friend posted the following comment:

“This country was founded on biblical principles…correct? Aren’t our laws/morals built upon biblical principles? If the bible is left out, then we have no morality anywhere. If I want something, then I should be allowed to steal it because I so choose to without any consequence. It gives the murderer the right to murder because he chooses to do so and it gives the pedophile the right to do whatever he chooses…”

My response to that is important, I think, because it is the basis of all that my own personal philosophy regarding the national dialogue revolves around. There are inherent reasons why we aren’t listening to each other, and a lot of that has to do with misdirection by our servants (read ‘Political representatives’) as well as our own personal assumptions about the Nation, and the world in general.

If you have the patience and the attention span, my response follows (the names have been eliminated to protect the faithful). I apologize for the long windedness, I usually try to keep it short, but this is a deep subject with many ins and outs. Please bear with me.

I said:

“As you know, I host open discussions and all points of view are valued. Your own opinions matter to me; as a long-time friend particularly so, even though we have different life philosophies. J

I’m going to have to disagree with you slightly here. I don’t disagree that this country was founded on Judeo-Christian, or Biblical principles. There those who would disagree, just to be difficult, but it’s inarguable. The Bible has served and serves as the basis of Christianity and an invaluable source for morality, and it served as such in the country, the world, since before we were founded as a country.

But I bridle a little at your statement “If the Bible is left out, then we have no morality anywhere.” That is an exclusionary statement that (without meaning to, I’m sure) passes a harsh moral judgement on a large group of individuals. Not everyone uses the Bible as their baseline for morality, even though they might use Biblical principles, or at least hearken back to them.

The apoplectic fear that we are going to devolve immediately into a screaming bunch of Harpies intent on murder because it fits a twisted moral relativism is a groundless one. All the same it is perpetuated and hyperbolized for the purpose of frightening people into keeping or adopting a particular religious course, which is a completely natural human tendency. I don’t judge the strategy, it simply re-enforces many things that I have observed in my studies of people.

Your statement regarding ‘if the Bible is left out we have no morality anywhere’ defines the most studied and advanced individuals in Buddhism, Taoism, Shinto, Confucianism, et al, as people void of spirituality, only full of themselves and not knowing or having any advanced idea of enlightenment or spirituality.

Here’s the thing, the Golden Rule, while an inherent ingredient in the Bible, does not originate with the Bible. It is, in fact, used as a basic rule in many world religions and morality systems. So when you say that ‘Without the Bible, there is no Morality anywhere’, what you are saying is “Look, I know you have your cute little religion or belief system and all, but it’s basically crap. Without believing as I believe, you are a doomed, wretched soul with no morality, no hope and no real say in the day to day happenings here in the mortal world.”

When you say something like that, you are saying that anyone who does not adhere to the strict path that you walk, is devoid of any chance, ability, or hope to possess any level of spirituality whatsoever.

I resent that. I can tell you that my own choice has resulted in a quite evolved sense of spirituality, more so than many people who profess to read and internalize ‘The Word’ because they go to church every Sunday. My spirituality is evolved enough to realize that my path is for me, and that there are countless other spiritual journeys others must make that will not resemble mine in the least. I don’t exclude people because they don’t walk my path with me.

Now, I don’t presume to know the mind of God, but I’m pretty sure that God would find my attitude to be a much more ‘spiritually evolved’ than one that excludes and dooms his other precious children to the deepest pits of the worst imaginable creation because they don’t live or worship in the same house.

There are three major religions in the world, but there are also many, many others. The adherents of those belief systems have as much faith that what they believe is the truth as much as you do; so when you talk down to them like that, they automatically rebel, they get pissed at you and they no longer listen to anything you have to say. You get branded as a ‘zealot’ with a closed mind who presumes to know the mind of God and presumes to pass judgement on your fellow humans.

After that, any chance at any kind of constructive dialogue goes out the window forever, along with any hope of maybe changing any minds. No dialogue, no exchange of ideas. It’s that simple.

I know you, and I’m pretty darn sure that’s not what you mean to say. But the truth is that perception is everything. The issue is that not everyone uses the Bible as the baseline for their faith, their moral system, or as their base of logic; and the overwhelming majority of Christians think or assume that those people do, or that they should, use that Bible and only the Bible as the arbiter of their morality. And if they don’t they are un-savable heathens without the intelligence to realize the ‘Truth’ like you. You are saying that they are too stupid to get it.

But there are other, just as viable, just as closely held, just as structured morality systems out there. It’s pretty judgmental and narrow minded to dismiss belief systems that go back thousands of years just out of hand.

This is a basic reason that Christians find themselves on the firing line in today’s national dialogue as one of the only groups it still seems okay to ridicule- and that’s wrong! It’s as wrong as doing it to any group, and I spend an inordinate amount of my time defending good Christians of humble faith as wrongfully persecuted. But they don’t help their own cause with these unspoken yet easily (even if wrongfully) perceivable attitudes and assumptions. And the ironic thing is that most would never consciously project these things I’m speaking of here!

In the end, with reference to this picture, the argument over if being gay is a choice or genetic is a silly one. It doesn’t matter, because aside from religious beliefs, this country was founded on religious Freedom. The right to believe and practice your morality system as you see fit, the way you believe is right for you and yours. It was not founded or perpetuated to be a Christian colony existing only to further the teachings of the Bible, but as a land where all could come and live as they see fit regardless of race, religion, or creed; in harmony with others.

There were other morality systems and teachings that went into the founding of this country other than the Bible that were just as important, just as viable as Biblical principles. The philosophies of Sir Edmund Coke, John Locke, Patrick Henry, Edmund Burke et al, and the principles of Natural Law were just as inherent to the foundation of the United States as anything else.

Don’t be frightened that people will ‘abandon’ the Bible and therefore become directionless and amoral- the Bible has already been abandoned by many in that course. Be glad that the principles of the Bible still persist when adherence to the Word has been abandoned. Be thankful that God sees fit to lay these basic truths, these basic principles down where any old person can pick them up and use them in their lives. That only serves to re-enforce the principles laid down in the Bible, it only serves to solidify the foundation, the rock you have built your house on.”

Sitting on the Edge

Just some random thinking from today…

Somewhere along the line we went from a vivacious culture of active, individualist go-getters who believed heavily in self-reliance, self-sacrifice, and clear priorities, to a dependent, muddied-view culture of reality TV, It’s-not-my-job, let-someone-else-carry-the-load couch sitters who want someone else to pay the way.

The damage is cumulative, and the more people that sign on to that paradigm, the more likely the rest are to shrug their shoulders and join their friends on the couch.

What a small-government, liberty minded minority is advocating is hard, it’s the hard way. It requires effort, responsibility, and critical thought. Our national system does not teach that anymore. In fact, our current crop of public servants, who fancy themselves as leaders and as authority, discourage the entire mindset. They do it because it foments an attitude of reliance upon them, empowering them with more control over the lives of the citizens of this nation.

We are sick. A malignant cancer presenting itself as the shining solution ravages our national body and mind and the only final result is an unrecoverable flat line. Its insipid tendrils creep out from D.C. and they infect individuals first, and then groups, and then entire populations.

What is the cure? And are we (as a whole) willing to undergo the necessary procedure? How can that happen when a majority won’t even recognize that we are sick and dying?

These are the things I think about as my feet dangle over the bottomless canyon of despair.

Know Your Place

Where do you stand?

When speaking of children, it’s easy to get into debates with regard to how to raise them; what’s appropriate and what isn’t what is too harsh or what might be too coddling.

The following is a list of things that might seem perfectly normal depending on personal philosophy.

  • When they misbehave, you scold them.
  • When they challenge authority, you punish them.
  • When they don’t want to share, you make them share or maybe take their stuff away.
  • When they are aggressive, you shut them down, maybe even medicate them.
  • When they say what you judge to be inappropriate, you reprimand them and perhaps punish them.
  • When they play games that hurt no one but that you judge to be ‘inappropriate’ or wrong, you prohibit them from playing in that manner, or make it difficult for them to do so.
  • When they call another person names, you lecture them.
  • When they get into a fight, you punish them by restricting them.
  • When they are offensive, you censure them.
  • When they don’t want to contribute their fair share, you take their things away.
  • When they daydream, you force them to focus with drugs or therapy.
  • When they express their opinion unasked, you shush them.

One could argue that everything on that list is more or less common place when it comes the discussion regarding the teaching, control, and raising of children, right?

But look at that list again. Go ahead, I’ll wait…

What if I wasn’t talking about parents and children? What if I were talking about your relationship with the government? Does that change your perspective on that list?

Welcome to how your government sees you.

Once you see that in context, it’s very easy to add to that list, isn’t it? You could add that when you exercise basic human rights the government doesn’t like, the government does its level best to ridicule you and shame you.

You could add that when you refuse to follow government defined ‘norms’, you are shunned and your judgment is called into question.

You could also say that when you ask uncomfortable questions, you are defined as a radical and your character is impugned… the list is practically endless.

Everything has been turned upside down. The government is not our parents. The government has chosen to ignore that they are not the authority, they are simply the chosen representatives of the authority wielded by the true government, We The People; the citizens of this once-great country. The men and women who serve in government are not the authority; they are servants of the collective authority of We The People.

And they have forgotten that one, very important point.

What’s more profoundly important and disturbing is that We The People have forgotten that as well. We have. And that is a horrible thing. What once made us great, something that we have every right to be proud of; is that as Americans, we once had our hands on the yoke of our own destiny; from the individual all the way up to the entire nation; but that is gone.

We have been reduced to a divided group of bickering hens that would rather lie on the couch, eating chips out of a bag, while we watch the latest reality show or sports event. Most people would prefer to do that, than to actually stand and take a hand in steering our own course. We long ago shrugged a lazy shrug and handed our destiny over to power hungry, greedy lawyers who have more interest in their own enrichment, than they have a sense of duty to their country and their fellow man.

We have set about destroying ourselves from within; something that we were amply warned would be the case. And like so many other things we have put our hands to, we did a bang-up job of it.

But it might not be too late. There might still be time to set our course right, if enough people care. If enough people are willing to get up off of the couch and bust out of their comfort zone. If enough people have the will, and the heart, and the tenacity to take a chance on losing it all in an effort to regain what we once were, what it was once our destiny to be. We could get it all back.

It’s all lost anyway, if we don’t wake up.

The question is; will that happen? Are you willing to fight? To dedicate what the youngest and the ‘least’ among us signed up for when they volunteered to defend this country and its people from all enemies, foreign and domestic? Do you have the cajones?

Or will you gladly let others shoulder that burden while you lazily drink your craft beer you’re so proud of; and you work your way through that bag of chips as you tiredly root for the meaningless outcome of your favorite sports event?

Do you Know Your Place?

Everything Will Be Fine

Say you live in a really poor neighborhood. You are one of the very few, maybe one of three people in the neighborhood that have a good, full time job in the area where you live. You have a car and money for groceries, fuel oil and clothes. But everyone around you, all of your neighbors, don’t all have great jobs or any jobs at all. They don’t have cars and barely enough money for groceries; and that is if they can actually get to the grocery store.

You help where you can, but you aren’t rich; comfortable, but not rich. You give your neighbors a ride to work or a ride to the grocery store when you can, maybe you even give out some flour or bread or sugar to your closest, needier friends. But food and fuel is expensive, your time is limited and you need to ask them for a couple for dollars for gas in order to be able to still live the way that you do.

Some of your neighbors start to grumble and complain that it isn’t fair that you have a car and they don’t, that you have money for groceries & fuel oil and they don’t. They start to say to you that they shouldn’t have to pay for fuel for you to take them to the grocery store and what’s more, it’s unfair that you have money for more groceries than they do. They dial up the other neighbors on their cell phones and you can see them outside talking to each other as they smoke their cigarettes.

A bunch of them get together and contact the government with their complaints. In the interest of fairness, the government steps in and directs you to make your vehicle available to your neighbors at their discretion. And you must maintain and keep fuel in the vehicle at your own expense. And they don’t stop there.

The government also directs you to make your pantry open to your neighbors. It’s only fair, they tell you, since you all live in the same neighborhood and everyone will benefit. You also must allow your neighbors to siphon fuel oil from your oil tank as they need to. If you don’t do all of this, you will be fined and possibly jailed.

You resist, but your neighbors and the government both insist that you must hate children and be inherently racist because you refuse to take steps and be opening to benefiting your neighbors. Also, as badly off as your neighborhood is, there are others that are even worse off. The government directs that you must make your property and house available to people from other neighborhoods to stay if they choose to try moving to your neighborhood because you have more than all of those others do.

The government assures you everything will be fine, that they will watch over everything and regulate things so that it’s all as fair as possible. But you know that other neighborhoods they have taken over are now in ruins, corruption is rampant and the rules mean nothing; people who break them regularly are hardly ever dealt with and when they are, it’s usually a slap on the wrist.

For all intents and purposes, everything you have worked for is gone. You have no option to move away because if you do, the government will punish you and besides, there isn’t any place to go where the same thing has not or is not occurring. You are ruined, and so begins your slow descent into poverty and hopelessness.

Without the resources you worked so hard for, that you earned, you will quickly arrive at a point where you have no hope of being of any help or of coming up with any new or innovative ways to help that won’t immediately be stolen by your government in the name of regulation. When you come up with alternate solutions or alternate approaches, you are slapped down and restricted from implementing anything or it is caught in bureaucratic red tape.

And now your government has complete control over everything you do.

Welcome to Net Neutrality.