Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!...Thoughts and Ruminations...

It has been a long, long time since I was a "practicing" I guess for most people that would make me a CINO in current acronym parlance (Christian in name only).  I am not sure if that is factual, but perceptually I cannot disagree with that moniker.  I was raised in a fundamentalist Christian home, but the idealism of what was taught clashed with the apparent hypocrisy of how people actually lived their lives resulted in disillusionment. The resulting search and study of most of the known religions of the world for "the Truth"  revealed scads of pretenders to that throne, not all of them religious.  But there was one constant theme: do what we say and your life will be better, either here or in the hereafter.  And Islam was downright threatening with it's instruction to convert or kill non-believers; there was no element of invitation or choice there.

This "obedience" thing was and is a non-starter for me.  My mother named me for the eighth disciple of Jesus...Thomas...often known as "Doubting Thomas."  I have no idea what moved my mother to that choice, but I have no question that it was accurate...and I have been both blessed and cursed with that attitude most of my life.  Now I just embrace it as a characteristic like having blue eyes or black hair...neither good nor bad, but a fact.

But, returning to the point, this obedience thing usually involves money, and doing as I am told.  It also involves not questioning either the ultimate destination of that money or the purpose behind the least not beyond getting generalities, like "helping the poor or deserving" or "to insure your being blessed by God" or the infamous "we know better than you" which occurs most often in political ideologies and is uttered by those in or vying for public office.

So I have turned my back on all organizations, both religious and secular, because when man gets involved in any group activity it inevitably becomes most concerned with controlling others for the benefit of the leadership, ultimately abandoning all but lip service to it's original reason for creation.

What does this have to do with Easter?  Well, it gets back to the instincts within us that exist without indoctrination, training or learning; it involves that "gut" feeling that we all experience when coming across something or someone for the very first time.  When that happens, I always get one of two feelings: either a "wow, that is great", or a "Whoa...I don't like that much."  Of course, we then spend  hours...or days, weeks or years...trying to get our brains to agree, or trying to convince our gut that it was wrong.  But the end result most of the time is that if we follow our gut, we turn out OK.  To me, that is God (or whatever higher power of any kind that you are comfortable with) trying to guide us.

And this morning, my gut turned my attention to the part of the scripture that dealt with God knocking on the door and waiting to be invited in.  And the part of offering...but not ordering... needing to be invited, resonated within me.  It was not obedience to commands as much as it was an offer to reveal choices from which I would have to select that was was that I   was also free to not "answer" the door.

That "aha moment" was, for me, the granting of the ultimate personal freedom simultaneously with the offer of knowledge and guidance beyond the scope of personal experience. No strings attached. No contract. No hypocrisy...well, except for my own.

I learned a lot of things during my search for the "truth" and I have been blessed with much because of it...but in terms of what I thought I was specifically looking for, I did waste a lot of effort and time.  For me only (I am sharing, not proselytizing) the answer was within me, and the only requirement was that I stop and both "listen" and "feel" instead of being so "busy".

One final note on organizations. People should band together to accomplish certain things...but their "organizations" should disband once the initial need is achieved.  If a secondary "need" is seen, form a new not continue the old one.  Keeping "standing" anything...committees, governments, religions...leads to power struggles and loss of individual freedoms that have little or nothing to do with the original purpose.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Slavery...are we slaves?

Slavery is a simple concept...I thought.  The definitions are rather clear and seem easy to understand.  Merriam-Webster says that a slave is one held in servitude as the chattel of another or that is completely subservient to a dominating influence.  All that seems clear enough.

Can one be a slave if not owned by another?  And, can you be a slave if you are not aware that you are one,i.e., either born or have become accustomed to being controlled by others or another?  That is, is self-awareness of the condition a requisite for the classification.  Apparently not, from the definitions...but more on that a bit later.   Also...if you voluntarily give power over yourself to another, but then decide you wish to rescind it and find that you cannot, does that result in a condition of slavery.

These questions came about because of an article I read recently that suggested that living in America had become an existance subject to a "plantation mentality."  The idea that we looked on the government much as slaves in the south had looked on their plantation farmer owners.  Seemed ludicrous on it's face, but....

It is undeniable that slavery has existed in the world since recorded history began.  Every one of the societies throughout the ages has employed the concept of slavery:  the Romans, the Greeks, the Aztecs, the Muslims...all of them.  But our history books suggest that WE are different. "Really?"...and, if so, "Why"?

In ancient times, slavery often had nothing to do with "ownership."  True, the Romans and Greeks did transfer title, but neither the Aztecs nor African tribes have any formal title for their just was a result of losing a battle or war.  Losers became the slaves and winners became the owners or "masters."  America codified ownership, with formal documentation...until they were emancipated. But...why did America and most of the western world do away with slavery. Did it really disappear? Or did it just morph into another form under a different name?

After all, how could a system that has existed for so many years suddenly become anathema to the human race?  If it were a gradual thing, one could argue that it was a developing "something": perhaps moral awareness, perhaps a religious revelation, but whatever it was, it would logically be something that mankind came to over an extended period...but this apparent  elimination of slavery has come upon us suddenly in less than a century, eliminating a pattern of behavior that has been consistent and constant for ages.  Why now...and how?

I do not think it has disappeared at all.  I think that it exists all around us and that in fact, we may all be not only complicit in its preservation but be slaves ourselves.

Remember the second side of the Merriam-Webster definition...",,,completely subservient to a dominating influence."?  Let us try out some comparisons of the usual vision of slavery side-by-side with living in America today:

What happens when you disobey the orders of your slave master?  Punishment of various degrees, depending on how severe and how many previous transgressions, right?
What happens when you disobey the orders of the government?  Not much different, I would suggest.

You may argue that you get a jury trial.  Sometimes...but not as often as you think.  Most transgressions against government are punished by taking your "stuff," usually in the form of money but sometimes they just take you property...especially if they want it and you think you own it.  How, indeed, is it different?

You say "...but my elected officials made the decisions, and I agreed by electing them."  Oh, really?  Was that your intention...or is that just a mantra that the government throws back at you to explain that it is really either your fault or that you agreed to allow this control and this "taking" of your stuff or your freedom?  Isn't the "election" thing something that you have been indoctrinated into believing actually protects your freedoms"  I mean, how many of your freedoms have disappeared in your lifetime without your specific approval?  Remember that unfortunate "property rights" thing that has been taken?  How about wiretaps without a judicial warrant?  How about the right to have the implements necessary to defend yourself?  Think about it.  How has that "our elections protect our freedoms" mantra been working...other than to lower your blood pressure?

Some people that lived centuries ago made an agreement to be governed by others.  We were born into it and raised to see it as a good thing...something to cherish and not to question. Did we choose it?  Did YOU choose it?  If we are really created with unalienable rights from God, why does the government have such absolute control over our lives?  Why does not every generation have to pass again, ab initio, and approve, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights?  Why are we encouraged to suffer indignities that our founding fathers saw fit to revolt against?  Sort of a loss of logic here, it seems.

Is there some fear on the part of those in power that some or all of the provisions might be seen by the majority of "citizens" as objectionable and the results as being enslaving?  You think?

Slavery is alive an well throughout the world.  In fact it is more extensive than ever before in human history.  And it is a natural existence, as proven by the history of the has always been and it will always be, albeit defined differently for the exigencies of the moment.  Today, most of the "Slave Masters" have simply morphed into "Elected Officials" and "Government Representatives."  They have refined themselves into a multi-headed hydra that cannot be clearly identified, and thus not ever truly defeated or removed, so the slavery continues.

Those who are poor cannot chose to remove the power that feeds them, while those who's earned wealth is taken by the government are too few to be able to fight the taking.  It is the perfect form of slavery where, for the sake of narcissistic ego, the enslaved cannot even countenance the idea that they are, indeed, slaves in fact if not in name.  And so it is.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ideology: The Yellow Brick nowhere

ALL proponents of government in any form are voluntarily deluding themselves. Each suggests that their ideology "serves the people' best. Nonsense. Once formed, government serves itself only. At a superficial level, there is no doubt in my mind that Conservative governing principles serve the individual best, but only at an unacceptable price.

Individual Freedom alone is responsible for individual success. Absent a personal benefit, of what purpose is taking what one person earns to care for another that has NOT earned enough? It is one thing to chose to do that, but another to be MADE to do anyone.

When you take from "doers" to give to "non-doers" you begin the process of destroying incentive for anyone to do anything...because it is inherently unfair and unjust. Leftists, by whatever name they use to fly under the radar today, believe that some should contribute to those who do not produce. They cowardly wish to accomplish their idea of good deeds with other people's money. Those on the Right chose to act to protect individual rights (so they say) but they charge their own form of vigorish to protect that. In both cases, government serves it's own end: the accumulation and preservation of power over others.

The Founding Fathers recognized this in the Preamble. And it is becoming time to take those words to heart again and recognize that our own government has become exactly what the English Government was at the time of our first Revolution.

Stop fighting over what form of governmental plantation you want to preserve, and recognize that we need to re-establish the concept of individual personal freedom and self-reliance that government, by it's very nature, steals and destroys.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sacrifice and Greed

I read comments from Politicians about the "need for common sacrifice" to get through our economic challenge.  There would be no problem with a request for common sacrifice if it were 1) equally shared by all, and 2) followed an elimination of the causes that led to the need for sacrifice. However, that is not true here. It is the government itself that has caused our problems, and it has not corrected it's policies or actions. Our "representatives" (boy, is that a joke. Certainly it is a one word oxymoron) are still serving their own, instead of the country's, well-being. And the sacrifice is defined by this President as continuing to spend money we DO NOT HAVE.

Everything we do as a country today is done on BORROWED funds. Is Libya important enough to us that we should borrow the money from China to do what we are doing? Because that is exactly what we are doing. Is the Department of Education doing enough for you, your country and your children that you are breaking your kids' piggybanks to get the money to fund them? Because, figuratively and perhaps realistically, that is what you are doing when you allow our government to continue to spend more and more money on departments and programs that have not accomplished demonstrable success for years and always whine that they just need MORE money...yet never produce results.

Greed? The Government, Politicians, and public sector unions set the standard. If they could hold themselves to the same level of behavior as the much-denigrated "rich" there would be an improvement.

As I was growing up, my father told me one day that when deciding on whether to try to do something, or invest in something, most people ask the wrong question: they ask "what can I make?" He told me that the question is fine, but it has to be prefaced with two other questions first: 1) "What can I lose?", and 2) "Can I afford to lose it?" Only, said he, if you can define the answer to the first question and say "yes" to the second, should you even bother to ask the last question.

Why does it appear that these simple rules are never followed by our Politicians and our government...on ANYTHING? And why do we not demand that they do so? Do we all have a Death Wish? I am starting to think so. After all, we do not have any money. We borrow it all. We do not have the money to pay all that we owe today if our creditors were to ask for their money.

Is Libya important enough to us that we borrow the money for the no-fly zone from China? Really? Because that is what we are doing. How about the same question with regard to our membership in the U.N.? Foreign Aid? Payments to the Afghan and Pakistani governments? Troops in Europe? The President's trip to South America (really, hasn't he ever heard of tele-conferencing?)?

It would be questionable enough if we actually HAD the money...but we DON'T.

I can't do this sort of thing as an individual or as a business without having concrete answers to these questions FIRST. Why does the government get a free ride?