Category Archives: philosophy

Conservative Values versus a myriad of extremists

A government professor of mine once stated that all governments were a balance between three different values: Equality, Order, and Liberty. No one value can be pursued without cost to the other two. The ideal society would actually be the one that keeps these three points in balance. However, as we look around modern parties and political movements, the logic of balance seems nowhere to be found.

Four Cardinal Virtues

Individual have the 4 cardinal virtues: Temperance, Moderation, Justice, Fortitude…but these are the basis for the three political virtues: liberty, equality, order. They all have to work together or not at all.

Liberals, socialists and progressives seek equality at the cost of order and liberty finally reaching their ideal society, a Communistic state where everyone is equal but in the end utterly worthless as equality requires none be higher than others, thus all talent, all incentives, and all goals have been destroyed leaving society to collapse before the equally unimpressive slaves that it has created. In a state where all are equal there can be no order because power cannot be vested (even through law) in another thus nothing can keep law and civil society together thus at best everything is merely slave to the whim of the herd (law by the same methods created reality TV)…and there can be no liberty, as liberty leads to exceptionalism, and no one can be better than anyone else

The growing fascist movements of Greece, the tyranny of Vladimir Putin, and the vile wretchedness of Islamofascism value order above all else. But for there to be complete order there can be no liberty because if people can choose for themselves, they will sometimes choose wrong and this inevitably leads to some level of chaos, some crime, some disorder. And in the ordered state there can be no equality, as equality requires that all are subject to rules, and for the ordered state to work no one can watch the watchers because they are the final authority, otherwise there is no way to control and maintain order.

Libertarians and anarchists view liberty as the end all be all of all politics. But where there is perfect freedom there can be no equality, even before the law, because there can be no law if there is nothing but license to do whatever you want. And there can be no order in the fully liberated state as the law who would hold back those who do not recognize the rights of others cannot exist.

And finally populists don’t particularly view any of these as all that important. Yes populists want equality when someone is doing better than them, which is why businesses and businessmen are evil and need to be reined in…but they strangely don’t care about equality when they’re doing better, which is why even Ron Paul brought back millions in pork to his district. They care about liberty, for themselves…but for anyone else, eh, it’s not that important. And order is important, so long as it’s in my general vicinity, enforced by me, and I don’t care if it’s not in my line of sight. (And please understand why I have been hitting the populists posing as conservatives a lot lately, your average Democratic voter has always been a populist. Their activists and politicians maybe progressives, but the voters are populists who just care about their entitlements and what will be given to them).

Meanwhile there is the real conservative viewpoint. That these three virtues of a society must be held in careful balance. That the extreme of any one of these because a dystopian nightmare (Liberty, Order, Equality…Lord of the Flies, 1984, Harrison Bergeron…or for the less well read, Mad Max, Hunger Games, Divergent…or if you prefer history, Somalia, Nazi Germany, Revolutionary France). That a society without these three to guide them is just as bad as one where only one is followed (I’d give an example but modern politics seems to be it and the last few years of Rome seem to be the only places dumb enough to try such an abhorrent idea in practice). Only the society that balances these forces is a prosperous one.

So what is the guiding star of conservatism that makes it so different from these other ideologies? Well, not to sound like a dozen other blogs on this site but the answer is once again, Aristotle.

Aristotle, for all his flawed understanding of politics (give the man a break, there wasn’t much reliable history to work with in the 4th century B.C. and you can’t expect him to have prescience of what was to come) understood that in politics, as with ethics, it is not a question of ends or means, but a question of ends and means. Those who value equality or order only value an end of making everyone equal or making everything peaceful. Those who value liberty only value the means of liberty not the result of what such anarchy brings. Only balancing both ends and means work.

And Aristotle saw the correct end to focus on. The end to all human life is Happiness. And society, family, education must all be structured to ensure Happiness for the greatest number of people. Now because Happiness requires freedom of choice and personal growth, not everyone will reach happiness no matter what a government/family/society does, but it requires liberty and the ability to exercise free will. But because Happiness requires some ability to plan and control your own life, it requires order to some degree. And because the point is to provide Happiness (or the opportunity to pursue Happiness) for the most people as all are equally human and equally deserving at birth of achieving Happiness. None of these on their own can lead to Happiness, and all must work together.

And this is why other belief systems don’t work; they’re not aimed at Happiness.

For instance look at misnamed “social conservatives” (Progressives for Jesus might be a better way to put it). They keep saying that the point of marriage is to have children. As if having children is an end in itself.   And they keep bringing this up as a reason why they opposed gay marriage. Now there are good reasons to get rid of marriage as a legal concept (and replace it with legal civil unions and let religion handle marriage without government interference) but it is not just the Progressive mentality here to have the government take control of everything. It is the missed sense of what the end of things are. They view the family as a means to creating another family. The family, society, everything in the view has no purpose but to serve itself. You have to have marriage to create children. You have to raise children so they lead lives where they get married. They get married to have children…over and over again. There is no point to the individual life (unless you want to get into some bizarre servitude to God, which views God as a master and the individual the slave…but no serious reading of any sane religion even comes close to that.) This is why social conservatives tend to be not only bad at politics but their own religion. Social conservatives should go back and read their Aquinas who makes it clear that “the principal end of matrimony, namely the good of the offspring” and that “the secondary end of matrimony, which is the mutual services which married persons render one another in household matters.” Notice how in the second point it is the betterment of each other (i.e. the individual’s happiness) that is the point of marriage. Just as every social institution is supposed to place the Happiness of the individual as a goal. Parents should be concerned with teaching their children the knowledge, ethics, and character that will allow them to be happy adults. Schools and other societal organizations should be focused on encouraging people to be the best they can be with the goal being individual Happiness. Social conservatives’ problem, like all progressives, is they think society is the end goal, it is not; the good of individual is the goal.

Then you have Libertarians who don’t even consider ends and just, like good Kantian idiots, look at means. And liberty is the only mean they care about. Oh they may say that freedom leads to individual Happiness, but they ignore that just because the exercise of free will is necessary it is not sufficient. (Just as Milton Friedman said that “History suggests only that capitalism is a necessary condition for political freedom. Clearly it is not a sufficient condition.”) Let’s take a look at what sometimes appears to be the only thing that libertarians think about: The War on Drugs. Okay, I will concede that the War on Drugs has been handled idiotically. I will concede that if a person should be able to use drugs in the privacy of their own home if they’re not hurting anyone. I concede that the power to prosecute the War on Drugs has led to massive costs and an intolerable level of corruption in the name of the War on Drugs. But in all this the libertarians fail to admit some very simple things. They act like the people who take drugs are all just innocent little lambs who are the victims of an unjust police power. prison violent

nonviolent

Oh, look it would appear that as incarceration went up crime went down…shocker.

Let me set the record straight: They’re criminals (whether they get caught and convicted or not, they’re criminals). They have the mentality that the rules of society, their long term well-being, and how their actions may hurt others are of absolutely no concern to them so long as they get a moment of pleasure. At best that is vilely hedonistic, at worst it has a bit of a sociopath in it. Libertarians like to pretend that you have otherwise innocent drug users in one group, and in another you have real criminals. And that the fact that we have a massive prison population proves that this War on Drugs needs to end. The problem is that you don’t have two different groups; you have a Venn diagram where criminals and drug users are often one in the same. Libertarians like to point to the increasing prison population, but they always conveniently forget that as prison populations go up violent and non-violent crime go down. They ignore that often drugs are used to put dangerous criminals away when other more serious charges don’t have as much admissible evidence. So there are benefits to the War on Drugs. But not willing to admit that drops in the murder, rape, theft rates is a good thing, libertarians only care about the liberty to do drugs.   They don’t advocate that we should focus more on the cartels, the gang distributors, and legalize personal home use (all things which would still probably round up the worst real criminals while not hurt the people who can actually handle personal use)…no they have to argue that we should just legalize all drugs. No concern for order, just liberty…and no Happiness for anyone.

The other difference between libertarians, Progressive for Jesus**, and real conservatives. Unlike Libertarians, conservatives understand that laws do need to be structured not just to protect rights but to encourage habits that will typically lead to a healthy society and Happiness in individuals (for instance unless we switch to a flat tax having tax credit for charity; the fact that we can’t just get rid of civil union side of marriage, and that we do need a safety net of some kind***; providing minimum standards for education to make sure all students receive a basic minimum of education) but unlike the Progressive for Jesus we must do so in a way that limits (or at least poses as few limits as possible) to the good that liberty provides (deciding what counts as a marriage and what doesn’t, when gay marriage provides the same benefits; spending money and resources checking on what people do in private that hurts no one; dictating what to include content wise in education; etc.).

Being consistently conservative is difficult. It requires balancing numerous issues of the needs of individuals, the long term good of society, Liberty, Order, Equality. And it’s a constantly shifting point because what creates that balance in one era may be totally unbalanced in another. Proper government needs to be directed toward the Happiness of individuals. It needs to balance our needs for liberty, order, and equality. When it does not do these things it creates bad laws. And it is so easy to get lost in caring only about your own want (populists) or one of the political virtues at the expense of the others. Right now we need a lot more liberty, but we cannot forget that it is the balance and the good of society and the individual that is our true goal—not just liberty for the sake of liberty.

Of course none of this is really new…the people who real conservatives look toward as a guide post made it quite clear that liberty, or order (tranquility, defense), or equality (justice, general welfare) were all equal political virtues that had to be held in balance of each other…

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Did we forget we're conservatives and we want to limit the power of the federal government?

*Now I know that I have heard some people have claimed that the FBI is merely shading the numbers—that they’re not counting things the same way to make things look better than they are. I’ve heard that claim from LOTS of people. But you know what I find interesting, I can’t find that claim on any think tank. None. Liberal. Conservative. Libertarian. Nobody. You would think that conservatives would have hit Clinton or Obama for skewing the data, or liberals would have hit Bush. But nobody seems to questions the FBI’s stats…nor is there any jump that you would see if you changed the criteria, it’s a slow progression. So either everybody and I mean everybody, is on a massive conspiracy to slowly skew the crime numbers, or crime really has been dropping.

**You thought I wasn’t serious, but I am. I am using that from now on.

***Libertarians, before you yell at me that we need to get rid of welfare entirely, please remember that Friedman and Hayek both said we need a safety net because having people in real poverty (the kind you see in the third world) creates people who seriously have the choice of steal or die, at which point it becomes a need for them to steal and as we all know from the example of Jean Valjean, utterly unjust to punish them.

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Is Capitalism Humane?

The great Milton Friedman on the ethics of capitalism.

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A Tyranny by any other name would be just as terrible…Why Communism, Fascism and Socialism are really the same thing.

“You can’t call Obama a socialist!”
“You can’t call Obama a communist!”
“You can’t call Obama a fascist!”
“You don’t know what words mean!”
“Obama’s a moderate!”

I’ve heard all of these. All of these statements are incorrect. Why are they are incorrect? Because they like to play fast and loose with the meaning of words. They like to ignore that often in political philosophy there are ideal systems and there are pragmatic realities. That there are actual actions and there is PR. There is where the society is headed and where it is now. And liberals will always use the definition you’re not actually using in context.

For instance if you say that France is socialist, they’ll point out that some industries haven’t been nationalized thus it is not a socialist nation it’s a mixed economy. You’re looking at the fact that France is headed in that direction and the pragmatic reality, they’re looking at is where it is now. If you complain that Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a Communist, they’ll point out that she hasn’t endorsed this or that policy from Soviet Russia. You’re looking at where they’re heading and what their ideals are, they only look at the words spoken so far and not making logical connections as to motives. You point out there is no difference between complete Socialism and complete Communism in reality; they’ll start talking about ideals and the utopia to come.

So let’s clear some things up.

There is the Communist Utopia, that place where government dissolves and everybody lives together in a global commune and sings “Kumbaya” and does their best and the shmoo run wild providing all our needs. This place never existed and never will exist on a national or international level. It can work with small groups of people who willingly join, but like pure democracy, it tends to fall apart when the group gets bigger than a couple dozen. This is what liberals claim they mean by socialism, but they forget that this pipe dream requires full and complete ideal Socialism first, even in their own arguments. They just think that the tyrannical government can somehow also be perfectly benevolent and will magically give up power when it has accomplished its goals (in a way no tyrant ever gave up power). And of course this is all silly anyway because history has shown without exception that the system ideal Communism really likes is anarchy, which only ever leads to post-apocalyptic wastelands.

Then there is practical Communism. Soviet Russia, Maoist China, North Korea, Cuba. This has near complete control over all aspects of the economy. They have numerous laws in both social and economic sectors. They are enforced with viciousness by police who basically answer to no one. The governments are controlled by a small cabal of people who have control of everything and while there may be the pretense of elections, the outcome is always the same. Slave labor and murder of citizens is how the populace is kept in its place. And all the time this is called socialism (because this is ideal socialism, although like in ideal communism, there is this foolish belief that it will be a perfect utopia where everyone is happy).

Strangely enough, this is almost identical to another form of government known commonly by a different name, but which saw itself as socialism. Specifically I’m thinking of the National Socialist German Worker’s Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei), of course known more commonly by the abbreviation, Nazi. But what exactly is the difference? Control of the economy? Check. Control of social order? Check. Slave labor? Check. Death camps. Check. Power of an unelected elite, no rule of law, state sponsored atheism*, no protection of natural rights.

That about sums it up.  But I'm always open to being proven wrong...How in any practical way is communism different from fascism or from what socialist say they want?

That about sums it up. But I’m always open to being proven wrong…How in any practical way is communism different from fascism or from what socialist say they want?

Check, check, check, and check. You know what the difference is between Fascism and Communism? It’s not in the type of government you have, it’s in the propaganda. Communism promises you a utopia where everyone is equal because they have done away with class, and every terrible act is justified to accomplish this greater good. Fascism is completely different in every way. Fascism promises you a utopia where everyone is equal because they have done away with everyone from a different heritage, and every terrible act is justified to accomplish this greater good.

There’s also a type of fascism that replaces race with religion, but most religions don’t work well with this because most religions argue that the human soul is divine, hence it works against fascist/communist principles that glorify only the whole and degrade the individual. In fact I can think of only one traditional religion that denies the divinity of the human soul and requires you to submit absolutely to the will of God.

Now I guess you could have something really bad which uses the racism of fascism and the class warfare of communism, and the religious overtones of Islamofascism, in one…oh wait, we do have that, it’s called North Korea. Otherwise known as the worst place on Earth.

There isn’t any practical difference between Communism in practice, Socialism in theory, and Fascism. They have the same means, the same methods, the same procedures. And they all have the same result. Suffering. Mountains and mountains of suffering. So, yes, calling someone by all three names is correct because all of them boil down to the lack of liberty in the name of the greater good.

‘But, but, but,’ I can hear the leftist whine now, ‘fascism is ultra-right not ultra-left.’ Okay, one, join the 21st century, the single axis right-left thing has been replaced by two and three axis plots of political leanings…and on those communism and fascism are pretty close to each other. The only reason some original idiot put fascism on the right was because they equated the love of country of the right wing America and Britain (which was based on the ideals of the nation) with the love of nation seen in fascism (which was based on things like race and ethnicity, you know the exact opposite of ideals). So let’s chalk up another moment in idiocy for political scientists.

‘But, but, but,’ they whiners will continue…and then they’ll bring up what we typically call socialism, the mixed-economy, and they’ll say that works. And the problem here is that the mixed-economy model covers a whole wide range of economic systems. Let’s start as the most free, the mixed-economy that leans towards capitalism (America in more recent history). Typically this tends to work and create prosperity. Then you moved to a truly mixed economy that are truly using a bit of capitalism and a bit of socialism (Israel, Poland, Mexico, France) depending on a lot of factors such as resources, culture, infrastructure, terrorism and crime issues, etc., this can work decently or not, but it tends not to create truly thriving and flourishing economies. Then you have your socialist leaning mixed economies like Greece (yeah they’re doing well) or India and China (where the media likes to focus on some people doing well, but somehow the socialism is still providing not much prosperity to the masses). But since all of these are called mixed-economies, idiots like to point to the successes of the capitalist leaning ones or the ones that benefit also from strong cultural issues, and use that as a justification for the socialist policies. However, this is silly, because when you line up countries by how economically free they are versus the prosperity there is, has always been, and will always be a strong relationship between economic liberty and prosperity. In fact there is a strong relationship to a lot of things we like (standard of living, life expectancy, low corruption) that comes with more economic freedom.

Yes maybe one country listed as a 67 by the Heritage scale of economic freedom isn’t doing as well as one rated as 57, and maybe one country did better one year even though its numbers dropped a little in that year, but as I said there are a lot of other factors that effect this or that individual nation but overall, every country does better the more economic liberty it has. So when socialists try to tell you about the joys of the mixed economy, point out that actually those benefits are what comes from capitalism not the socialist aspects of the mixed economy.

Now I could get into the fact that only capitalism within a Classically Liberal republic (or as close as we have gotten to it) has been shown to offer real protection of rights and real prosperity, but you’ve seen me do that before…or that cronyism, which is really a form of the socialist mixed economy, creates a lot of problem that capitalism gets blamed for, even though it has nothing to do with capitalism, but those are a bit off topic from my original point.

So back to my first quotes.

“You can’t call Obama a socialist!”
“You can’t call Obama a communist!”
“You can’t call Obama a fascist!”
“You don’t know what words mean!”
“Obama’s a moderate!”

Yes, I do know what those words mean. Now it would take a whole other blog to PROVE that Obama’s attacks on the free market and natural rights qualified him for those appellations, but I trust your common sense to make the prima facie case on your own, because I think it’s fair to say that every action he has taken over the last 5 years has moved us away from the benefits of capitalism and more and more toward the economic nightmares of socialism/communism/fascism. The only real question is, is it intentional or just gross idiocy?

Types of Government

*Yes, the Nazis just like every form of Communism embrace, encourages, and enforces state run atheism.

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Capitalism: The ONLY hope of Mankind

Capitalism is the only system that has been shown to raise people out of poverty. It is the only system that benefits the rich, the middle class, and the poor. It is the only system that can bring a nation out of destitution. It is the only system that works long term. It is the only system compatible with human nature. It is the only system of economics that is ethical. It is the only system of economics that is sustainable because only capitalism creates and encourages the innovation and imagination needs to deal with the constant slew of problems that life brings.

You can either be in favor of Capitalism or you can be an idiot who knows nothing about economics, history, psychology, philosophy, ethics, human nature, politics, reason, logic or facts.











Let me say again…You can either be in favor of Capitalism or you can be an idiot who knows nothing about economics, history, psychology, philosophy, ethics, human nature, politics, reason, logic or facts. That is all.

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The Importance of Religious Pluralism in the Journey of the Soul

Not sure why, but I’m seeing an upsurge in the frequency of people becoming more hostile about their religion being right and everyone else being wrong (and even for the people who aren’t making a big deal out of it, there is a certain ‘my religion is better than your religion’ arrogance in lots of groups, and it just feels like its getting worse).  And I’m not just talking about the psycho-fringe here (or I’m really underestimating the size of said “fringe”).  I always find this a puzzling concept.  Sure there are a few really insane beliefs out there–mostly the ones that dictate ‘my way or else I’ll kill you!’–but for the most part, most religions all have the same core values and differ only in forms, names, and rituals.  And quibbling over these relatively minor issues is pointless. First off most of these people who want to scream for their own religion and no others seem politically motivated (I’ve seen all sides engage in this religious idiocy) given that it only alienates people away from your political causes.  Further, reason doesn’t hold this up?   I mean, do you seriously believe that God, a being of supposed infinite love, compassion, understanding and wisdom, cares about what ritual you use to get closer to him, rather than if you actually get closer to him or not?

And it’s not just implicit in reason, recent scientific research into reincarnation and near-death experience also demonstrate this. Scientific studies have shown that reincarnation is a fact and that you change from religion to religion based on your life—if that’s the case it can’t be that God loves one religion and hates all others.  Similar studies have also shown that during near death experiences everybody goes to heaven, doesn’t matter what their religion is…it’s almost as if God doesn’t give a shit what name you call him by.

potala palace lhasa

The Potala Palace, Lhasa, Tibet…it seemed like a place both remote and spiritual enough to serve as the starting place for the soul.

So does this mean that all religions are worthless?  That there is just God and his children and it doesn’t matter what you believe…not exactly.   Now, with that knowledge of near death experiences and reincarnation studies, it seems to be that the majority of religions are correct, that life is a series of rebirths, a progression of lessons and stages of learning all leading to Enlightenment…but that still doesn’t invalidate the idea that you should follow the religion you feel called to. If the soul is on a journey toward Enlightenment, let’s think of it as a journey.   For the sake of metaphor let’s say all souls start out standing in the Potala Palace in Lhasa.  High in the Himalayas, disconnected from the rest of the world.  And you know you have to get somewhere (Enlightenment) you have had it roughly described to you, but you don’t quite know where you are going or exactly how to get there.

How you get there would be comparable to the mode of transportation you take.  Some ways like Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, New Age belief and modern Paganism might be equivalent to walking, taking a bike, a boat, a car or a plane*, other religions maybe more like trying a unicycle with a flat tire, spinning in a circle believing you will magically teleport, digging through the center of the earth using a rusty spoon or launching yourself into orbit using high explosives and hoping you land in the right place. ** While in the minority there are religions that are all but useless in all cases…however most religions are more dependent on where you are in your journey. In this example if one religion is equivalent to riding in a car and you’ve hit the Pacific Ocean, it may have gotten you to this point but you need a different mode of transportation (a different belief system) to advance on the next stage of your journey.

Devil’s Bridge, Sedona, Arizona

Now for the sake of argument in this travel metaphor let’s say that Enlightenment exists at the Devil’s Bridge in Northern Arizona (chosen for the fact that it is beautiful, and the irony was just too good to pass up).

Now to get from our stating place in Tibet and ending place in Arizona there is no way a single mode of transportation is going to cut it the whole way.  You are at best going to have to walk part of the way, either take a boat or plane part of the way, and probably have to travel in some other forms of transportation for part of the journey.

The Journey of the Soul Metaphor

If only the journey of the soul was this short a distance.

Let’s add to the fact that you’re not always sure where you’re headed.  Granted as long as you’re moving you may be getting closer, or at least have a better chance to learn where the right place is as opposed to the stupidity of staying still, but that still doesn’t always mean you’re moving in the right direction (as some religions that could be used to progress can be misused to put you further away from God…Westboro come to mind).

You could use this metaphor for a lot of things, and show it flawed in numerous other ways.  I just want to show that even on a journey you may use different modes of transportation, as different religions may serve different souls on their journey to Enlightenment.

And my overall point here is that reason tells you God is too perfect a being to care what name you call him by or what rituals you go through to honor him, it’s silly to think that one religion is the right one and all others are false.  Yes there are some blindingly stupid beliefs out there, and there may be beliefs that are wrong for you in your life (take a car when you’re on the ocean) but just because your religious beliefs work for you don’t assume they would work for everyone. The most you can do is ask if you find that your beliefs are leading you to God (if they are, bully for you) and if someone else’s beliefs could never in any way, shape, or form lead a person to God (a religion that calls for stoning people in the 21st century for instance) and oppose those vile beliefs will all your heart and soul.

So even if you aren’t decrying that your religion is better than all others, it might also be best to not always believe that (I know some will think I’m only critiquing Christians here, but really this my religion is better than your religion arrogance can be found in almost every religion)…your beliefs may be exactly what you personally need in your journey right now, but don’t believe that your beliefs will work for everyone at every time.

sedona rainbow

you can never have too many random pictures of Sedona

*Try not to match those up, the religions are in more or less chronological order and the modes of transportation are more or less random.

** I may or may not have had Scientology, Atheism, Keynesianism (it denies basic reality so much and requires so much be taken on faith it’s pretty much a cult) come to mind here…oh and I can’t think what religion I had in mind when I mentioned strapping high explosives to yourself…certainly not a religion of peace.  Not everyone following those beliefs is stuck at a stand still, it’s just highly, highly unlikely they’re going to be making a major push forward in that life.  And this is the balance to an acceptance of other beliefs, admitting that there are some really dumb beliefs out there.

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Hope, the American Way, and the “Man of Steel” Trailer


So there appears to be some brouhaha over the newest trailer for Man of Steel.  I have seen complaints about this on no less than 3 different political web sites, which seems a bit much for a trailer, but since they want to make a federal case over it, it should be pointed out that their case is baseless.   Namely the problem seems to be with the following lines:

Lois Lane: What’s the “S” stand for?

Superman: It’s not an “S.”  On my world it means “hope.”

Lois Lane: Here it’s an “S.”  How about Super…ManofSteelsymbol

Now the first complaint is that this is changing the story, where it has always stood for Superman.  This is a silly claim, especially for a comic book movie, which is based on comic books that have been restarted so many times with so many variations D.C. comics actually had to come up with a storyline about multiple universes just to keep all the versions straight (still didn’t help).   When you’re translating a story from one medium to another it’s pure insanity to think everything can remain the same.  Further, yes you might be justifiably angry at those changes…but only if those changes make the story worse.  The new Star Trek stripped all the good out of the original series and created a cheap sci-fi film that would never have gone anywhere without banking on the greatness of the original…so there bitching about the changes is justified.  Conversely, Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy took the Batman story from a more simplistic action/detective comic and created one of the deepest most meaningful films ever made.  Those changes made the story better, and so whining about purity of the original story is just bunk.  Rewriting stories is a part of literature dating back to when Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides rewrote the works of Homer for stage, nobody in their right mind claims they ruined the stories.  Now it may be that whatever changes Nolan and Snyder have made to the Superman myth in this film may make it better or worse, we’ll have to see, but change is not necessarily good or bad on its own.

The other reason this is silly (and keep in mind I’ve never read a Superman comic in my life, and even I could find this out easily) is that in terms of the meaning of the “S” they haven’t really changed anything.  In the original film starring Christopher Reeve, the symbol stood for the House of El, the Kryptonian family that Superman is a part of. But what about the “Hope” thing?  Apparently some on the Right are having knee-jerk reactions to the word and thinking that this is intended to be a reference to Obama.  It’s not.  This actually is taken directly from the 2004 comic Superman: Birthright written by Mark Waid (Obama had only come onto the national scene at the 2004 Democratic convention in July, the comic came out in September which means it was probably written well before July).  I will shortly come back to why using Waid’s work as a basis for this movie is a very, very good thing.

Finally there are of course the constant complaints still going on about the line from the last movie “Find out if he still stands for Truth, Justice, all that stuff” and how the writers shoved away the phrase “the American Way” and the worry that this will still continue in this film (this of course ignores that the line came from Perry White, the most cynical character in the Superman universe who probably would find the phrase silly).

ManofSteelAfter this trailer I especially find this fear also fairly unwarranted.

Why?

Well what is the American Way?

Contrary to what many believe, it has nothing to do with land, or resources, or economic success, or military prowess, or scientific achievement. America is America because of our ideals.  The ideals of liberty, of meritocracy, that anyone can achieve by their own will.  Or as I have stated before:

We’re the nation that fought to create a republic where the haves and have-nots gave equal measure.  We’re the nation that fought our own citizens to free slaves.  We’re the nation that pioneered capitalism and law that gave liberty and opportunity and progress to more people than any other country in history.  We’re the place where “tired, the poor, the huddled masses” come to be energetic, successful and stand on their own feet.  We’re the country that conquers whole nations so that others may be free then tries to rebuild them and then leaves without tribute or power.  If you don’t think we’re the “shining city on the hill” you don’t know history, philosophy or human nature.  We’re not perfect, we’re not always right, but we are consistently the nation that calls for the best in humanity to put down the worst.

The American way isn’t a habit, or a land, or a race, or even the citizens of this particular country, it is an ideal that believes the best in humanity can always rise above the worst in humanity, that the individual left to their own devices will rise to the pinnacle of achievement and not sink to the depth of depravity.

And just in this trailer alone, we see that way, that ideal.

We see it in Jor-El’s statement

What if a child dreamed of becoming something other than what society had intended?  What if a child aspired to something greater?

Are you going to tell me a line about how a single individual can rise above the shackles of whatever society throws on them, and achieve because of their own will and merit isn’t at the very heart of America?

Or perhaps Jonathan Kent’s:

I have to believe that you were sent here for a reason.  And even if it takes the rest of your life, you owe it to yourself to find out what that reason is.

The belief that life has a purpose.  It has been seen in philosophy since Aristotle, but it has never been realized until America.  And this quest to find meaning is a personal one, “you owe it to yourself,” not one laden down with obligations to family, or clan, or religion, or state, or culture, or history or whatever other un-American claptrap other nations have followed.

Or perhaps we should go to first trailer, with another line from Jor-El

You will give the people an ideal to strive towards.  They will race behind you.  They will stumble.  They will fall.  But in time they will join you in the sun—In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.

Shining city on the hill anyone?  The beacon of hope and light that America is supposed to be.

Oh I said “beacon of hope” which brings us back to the symbol and them taking that point from Mark Waid.  This is important that they are drawing form Waid’s version. Why?  I would direct you to an essay written by Waid in the book Superheroes and Philosophy entitled “The Real Truth About Superman and the Rest of Us, Too.” (It’s an excellent essay which you may want to read.)

The essay covers the thought process Waid went through when the head of D.C. asked him a simple question: “Why does Superman do what he does?  Why doesn’t absolute power absolutely corrupt in his case?”  He quickly found the stock answer of, because he’s Superman, to be unsatisfying to the employer who was hiring him to revitalize the franchise.

What follows is an argument that references two of my favorite philosophical beliefs.

The first is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  Waid starts from the premise that even though an alien, he has the same needs in the same order as any human.  Physical needs then Safety needs then Emotional Needs then Maslow's Hierarchy of NeedsAchievement needs then finally the need for Self Actualization.  (You’ll find that the American beliefs in liberty and capitalism parallel this order of needs quite well).  Now for Superman, the first two, physical and safety need, aren’t an issue at all.  So that leaves emotional, achievement and self actualization needs.  Now he might gain some emotional connections by just being mild mannered Clark Kent, but certainly not achievement or self actualization.  Which then comes to a question of how much does he need to achieve…and this is where Waid turns to another idea, a quote in fact (which I’m hoping against hope will make it into the movie):

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” [Italics on the last part added]

 

It is the realization that Superman is who he is because to do anything less would not lead to his Happiness, and that a central theme of the story has always been that we should all strive to the edge our abilities, as Kal-El does, not just to help others achieve their goals (You will help them accomplish wonders) but to also achieve our own Happiness (you owe it to yourself).

So this is why I’m happy they are pulling from Waid, with the concept of Superman being a symbol of hope, the city on the Hill, because it places the whole story in a very strong and correct footing of spiritual values and Aristotelian virtue based ethics.

Now while Waid, or Marianne Williamson who first wrote this in her book A Return to Love: Reflections on A Course in Miracles, don’t make the connection, it is only through the American Way of personal liberty and personal achievement that we achieve the heights of shining our brightest.  So I feel the need to again point out, that the American Way is being championed in this movie already, whether they say the words or not.

Now, no one has seen this film yet, so it could either suck or make the Dark Knight Rises look like an F film student’s half-hearted attempt…or anything in between. I am merely pointing out that the complaints based only on this trailer are completely unfounded.  This movie appears to appeal to the best in this story, the core ideals that have let it rise above whatever flaws have plagued the various incarnations over the years.

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Books for New Agers: Life Before Life—Children’s Memories of Previous Lives

Reincarnation

So I just finished reading Life Before Life—Children’s Memories of Previous Lives by Jim B. Tucker, M.D.  Yes it’s a book about reincarnation.  But unlike a lot of books about reincarnation that will look at one case of past life regression…or another case of someone having spontaneous memories and working through each case this is a summary of a collection of cases. 2,500 cases covering decades worth of research.  All of them involving children under the age of six, you know before you could theoretically prompt a child to say things.   These cases are being reviewed by the University of Virginia, Division of Personality studies.*

Let’s review some of the main points.

All the children are under the age of six.

All children recall having been someone in a previous life.

About two-thirds of the cases have been “solved”, that is they have identified a specific individual that the child has memories of being.

About a fifth of cases the child has a birth mark or structural defect where the person they claim to have been received a major wound (e.g., a child is born with a birth mark where a shunt had been in their previous life or a child who had memories of being a cop who had died when a bullet destroyed his aorta, being born with a bad aorta that had to replaced).  225 of these solved cases that involve birthmarks and other physical markers are covered apparently in great detail in a 2,000+ page, 2 volume study entitled  “Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects”.

There’s a lot of specific evidence I’m not going over because I actually think you should read the book.  But trust me there is evidence.lifeafterlife

Particular cases are reviewed, their flaws and strengths are laid out and the author goes through other possibilities of explanation which are reviewed.  Tucker spends a great deal of time on the only other remotely possible answer for these children knowing what they could not, that being fraud on the part of the parents.  But given that numerous cases for the U.S. where subjects don’t believe in reincarnation, it seems odd that they would try to fake a case of reincarnation.  Further even fraud leaves too many unanswered questions…reincarnation does not.
The book is an excellent summary of the scientific findings of this group at the University of Virginia** and so while much of the scientific and statistical evidence isn’t presented, it does lay out a sound scientific case for reincarnation.  It deals with the challenges skeptics would bring up and addresses them, then tears them down.

I would highly recommend anyone interested in reincarnation, or looking for scientific proof to back up their faith, read this book.

Some of the more interesting highlights from the book include:

Apparently you are more likely to remember a past life if that life ended only a year or two before your rebirth, there are relatively few memories of distant past lives among these children.

Gender Identify Disorder may, at least in many cases, be related to a soul switching from one gender to another between the two lives and the confusion from change.

The after life, at times, may be as chaotic as this life.

Not everyone remembers heaven, but some do, and you are less likely to remember it if your death in your previous life was particularly violent or sudden.

If you meditate you are more likely to remember heaven in your next incarnation.

There are cases of children remembering their last incarnation being a fetus that was aborted or miscarried.

All that said this book raises some questions that I have and if anyone has any information on this I would love to know.  After reading this book it appears that cases where children are remembering their past lives are becoming more common, or at least it appears that way to me.  I’ll admit that it may simply be that this is only being studied recently, whereas in the past it was not.  However there are cases in the past of people remembering their past lives, Gen. George S. Patton for instance, but these seem to be very rare in the past, where the 2,500 cases collected by the University of Virginia (and you know if they can find 2,500 there have to be ten times that many they didn’t find) don’t make it common, but it certainly does not seem to be uncommon. This makes me wonder if the memories are becoming more and more common.  Since, quite frankly, none of the children in this book  come off as enlightened beings (nor any of their previous incarnations) these memories do not seem to be caused by the individual soul’s level of spiritual enlightenment, my question is does this maybe indicate a greater awakening in the collective soul of humanity?  Certainly this is not going to be answered anytime soon, but it’s something to think about.

Also, the birthmark and other biological signs described in the book are suggested to be related not to karma but more to the mind’s ability to affect the body (the book references the ability to make a hypnotized person believe they are being burned to the point that their skin blisters or the fact that signs of the stigmata are now believed to be caused by psychological not miraculous factors).  Now if the mind, and specifically it’s attachment to certain memorable events (usually what killed you would have a more powerful impact on you, or at least you would think), and we also take into account the issue of some souls not being able to fully adjust to their new gender in the form of Gender Identity Disorder…I have to ask in lesser cases could a soul attached to their previous gender affect the DNA of their new body, thus being the spiritual cause of the genetic factor in homosexuality?  And I bring this up because I have also seen this suggested in the book The Messengers and the issues of Gender Identity Disorder reminded me of it.

*The book was published in 2005.  And deals primarily with 1,100 cases that had been entered into a computer system for statistical analysis.  I can only assume that both the computer database and the total number of cases has increased since the book was published.

** For my conservative readers, it is funded by private endowment, not by tax-payers (although I assume the same researchers are paid by tax payer funds for any teaching they do at the University) so don’t even begin to question if money should be paid for this.

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Filed under Books, Books for New Agers, Faith, God, Karma, New Age, philosophy, Purpose of Life, Reincarnation, Religion, Spirituality

Drop the meaningless phrase “Judeo-Christian Values” and other ways for Conservatives to win

Okay so several times I have asked what the phrase “Judeo-Christian Values” means and how it is different from the values of other beliefs and religions.  I haven’t received many good answers.  Yes there are certainly differences between them in the nature of God or in the rituals and the structure of the community…but in terms of values there is little difference…everyone regards the soul as divine in some way* and proper understanding of any of these religions lends one to a virtue based ethics in line with the Classical Realism of Aristotle and Plato.  In fact, when you look at most religions there are some pretty strong parallels in all the virtues—some may be more detailed than others in some areas and less in others, but they seem to focus on the same general virtues.

virtue

Granted there is not a point for point comparison between the virtues that I am showing here, and there are shades of difference and meaning, often caused more by culture and period of time they were written in, but in terms of broad swaths, every religion believes in the same general set of virtues. Also this chart could be much more inclusive of a variety of religions and still hold true…but I think you get the point.

So the term Judeo-Christian values, which supposedly would mean the virtues and ethics this group holds to be good and right and true is just the same as the virtues of every other religion, then it’s not that meaningful a phrase.  Yes there are differences between Judeo-Christian beliefs and other religions, but none of these differences have anything to do with the political context of how the phrase “Judeo-Christian values” is used.

The phrase is meant to draw a contrast between spiritual/religious values and those of the secular, progressive, fascist, fanatical sections of society that actually don’t share either a belief in virtue based ethics or have some very radically different values.

So why is this an important point to bring up?

Well because it makes a pretty clear distinction between those who follow Judeo-Christianity and everyone else.  Including people of lots of different faiths who were not intended to be alienated.  Is this relevant?

Well first off I think it’s a fair statement that the term Judeo-Christian values is primarily used by conservatives.  Second I would assume we want to win.  We lost the last election by 3.9% points.  A 3% shift of the vote would have given Romney the popular and Electoral College vote and about 6 Senate seats (i.e., complete Republican control).  So it then becomes a question, is there 3% of the electorate who is religious and spiritual, not already voting Republican, that is not in the Judeo-Christian bracket?

Let’s look at the polls.

Trends in Religion PewPew does a major poll every year looking at the trends in religion in America.  It’s a sample of 17,000 people so it’s fairly accurate as polls go.

So of the “other” religion we have 6% of the nation and of the “nothing in particular” group we have 13.9% of the population.  Together they make 19.9% of the population.  Common sense alone says that if you have 20% of the country, two-thirds of whom are voting against your party, then maybe if you stopped alienating them with an us vs. them term (or at least picked a new term) you could pick up a few…maybe?

So let’s look at the 19.9% a little more closely.  Okay so we can discount about 1% of the “other” group as they are the “religion of peace” and their fairly fascist beliefs are moderately antithetical to conservative principles and the values/ethics being promoted.  So we’re down to 18.9% up for grabs.

Now the let’s look at how the remaining 5% of the “Other” and the 13.9% of “nothing in particular.”  Now a flaw of this report is that they lump the ““nothing in particular” in with Atheists and Agnostics under the heading of Unaffiliated (but for Trend in Religion by party Pewthe purpose of this let’s just assume the numbers are about the same throughout all the unaffiliated, it doesn’t make a terribly large difference anyway).  From the data we can see that only about 57% of the Other group and 69% of the unaffiliated are voting for Democrats (trust me the math works).  So give or take (you know there are some independents we’re not taking into account) that’s about 12%.  12% that probably share the values of the Christian voters who lean toward voting Republican, but for some reason aren’t voting Republican.  Do you think that term “Judeo-Christianity” might have something, even a small part, to do with it?

Isn’t this just a call for political correctness?  No.  The idiocy of political correctness is saying you have to watch everything you say because it might hurt someone’s feelings.   And it is for all levels of life, from the public and political to the personal.  I am not saying you have to adjust your personal language or beliefs.  This is merely a political reality.  We as conservatives have certain values and policies we know will work and better the lives of everyone.  Politics is as much about emotion and perception as it is about facts and plans, probably more so. Political Correctness has nothing to do with practical ends, which is why it has to be enforced by the left so viciously else reason would drive most people to that end anyway; what I am talking about is something very different than being PC, I’m talking about selling an idea with very real consequences.  A term like “Judeo-Christian values” is loaded from the get go, it creates an us vs. them mentality, at a time when we need more of the people in the “them” category to vote for us.  If we switched to using the term “spiritual value” or “God centered” more often, it would mean the exact same thing in terms of everything relevant to politics and ethics, and it wouldn’t emotionally alienate those we are trying to win over.  You can still use “Judeo-Christian” if you really feel strongly about it, but do it knowing you’re hurting the chance to actually see your goals accomplished.

Is this stupid?  Yeah.  It’s silly and ridiculous to think we should have to be this nitpicky about our language and terms to win people to our side.  But, the last time I checked we already had reason, logic, facts, truth, plans, and vision on our side.  Didn’t notice that doing us any good.  Oh, wait this is politics. Stupid thing like word choice do matter.  Is it stupid?  Yeah, but it’s something you have to do.

New Age beliefsBut should we end our discussion of this group of “nothing in particular” with just this term?  Well that might work towards making in-roads with maybe 1% of those 12%, in-roads that would allow the rest of our arguments to make a difference, and that 1% we get to follow reason would be a third of the way we need to go, but it’s still not enough.

Let’s take a look at some of the actual beliefs of this group.  Namely that 25% of them believe in reincarnation (If you assume that all the atheists and agnostics do not believe in reincarnation then it’s actually about 35% of the “nothing in particular” group…or about 4% of the general public.)  Further while there is nothing in this year’s report, previous year’s reports showed that a belief in reincarnation was more popular with women, minorities, the young, Democrats, liberals, moderates, independents, and Christians who attend church less often (i.e., the people we need to win over).

So it is safe to assume that most of those in that 4% are not voting Republican.

But they should.

A belief in reincarnation by its very nature lends to long term thinking—the policies I put in place today won’t just affect my children and grandchildren, they’ll affect me over and over and over again.  Thus anyone who believes in reincarnation has to believe in plans that aren’t as concerned with momentary problems, but with building long term systems that self-perpetuate and offer prosperity to the most people for the longest time with most chance of growth…that would be the capitalism and republicanism officered by real conservative belief.  This is an argument I’ve made before, extensively in Republicans & Reincarnation, and one that we should all make to anyone who holds this article of faith in reincarnation.  If you actually approach them on their own terms, and showed that the logical consequence of their beliefs is conservatism, we could get another 1% of that group…which means of the 49% left we only have to convince another 1% and given the abysmal failure of a second Obama term, that should be easy.

You don’t have to agree with people on faith. But you’re not going to convince them on politics if your stance is mine is the only religion worth following by using terms like “Judeo-Christian value.”  Say “spiritual values” instead, it means the same thing, it still separates you from the secular liberal base you are trying to show a contrast with, and it may pick up a few votes. And if you’re arguing with someone who doesn’t agree with your religion or your politics, you’ll never convince them to give up a faith because of reason, it just doesn’t work (even if you do show contradictions and put them on the path to agreeing with you spiritually, it will initially only dig in their heels more on every other topic against you)…but if you approach them on their terms spiritually and show them how their beliefs do dictate a conservative point of view, then you at least get something.

*The only two exceptions to this are followers of the religion of peace (Sufis excluded) and atheists.

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A sincere and honest question…Judeo-Christian Values? What are they?

The term “Judeo-Christian Values” is bandied about a lot in public discourse.   Yes it dropped off a little after Rick “I want to use the government to institute a theocracy” Santorum dropped out* last year but it seems to be making a comeback.

So I have to ask, again, what are Judeo-Christian values?  How are they important to politics?  And how do they differ from other religions?

Now maybe it’s just as a non-Christian I’m not getting something that you understand as someone who practices this religion.

Now it’s not that I don’t understand the obvious differences between Christianity or Judaism and other religions.  But I don’t see how the differences I do know about have any effect on government. The truth and virtue of capitalism and democratic-Republics are just as true whether you believe in the Trinity/Yaweh, or Braham and Shiva.  The saving power of grace in most of Christianity has little to do with politics, as far as I can see it.  And just because one tribe of people has a very particular contract with God, it doesn’t negate the importance of the rule of law for everyone else.   The differences I can think of don’t have any effect on politics.  And I see the hand of Providence in the creation of this nation, but the hand of Providence can be seen in event that aren’t specifically Judeo-Christian in nature, so that doesn’t necessarily give precedence to only that belief system.  What am I missing?

And the values that do have an effect on politics—the value of the human soul, which leads to the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness; the condemnation of violence, hatred, envy, hypocrisy; the praising of personal charity, honesty, compassion, hard work and a connection with something greater than yourself—are not the specific territory of Judeo-Christianity.  You find them Hinduism, in Zoroasterism, in Taoism, in Buddhism, in ancient Pagan beliefs, in Baha’i and Sikh beliefs, and in modern day New Age beliefs.  The values, which then become the backbone of our legal systems are in all religions. So why just Judeo-Christianity?  I understand that each of these belief systems place a different ordering on the priority of these virtues and values, but there are so many variations just within the scheme of Judeo-Christianity itself to make that an issue.
Heck even when Paul Ryan refers to Judeo-Christianity he does something very interesting:

A lot of the basis for this government is in this picture...not a lot of these people are from the Judeo-Christian background.

A lot of the basis for this government is in this picture…not a lot of these people are from the Judeo-Christian background.

It’s a dangerous path, it’s a path that grows government, restricts freedom and liberty, and compromises those values, those Judeo-Christian, Western-civilization values that made us such a great and exceptional nation in the first place.

He pairs Judeo-Christianity with Western-civilization, with the idea that is unique to the west of the democratic-Republic (a pagan creation by the pagan populations of Athens and Rome) that demands:

Our rights come from nature and God, not government.

(And while these ideas first thrived under predominantly Christian nations of the West, Ryan seems to be acknowledging the pagan Athenian/Roman importance by pairing the two.)

“The Bible is a book. It’s a good book, but it is not the only book. ” …at least in terms of government.

And it seems a little sweeping since while all the Founding Fathers would admit that the Bible contained what they saw as the best expression of ethics they could find, Adams, Jefferson and Franklin denied the divinity of Christ, and Freemason Washington’s beliefs on religion are probably a little more complex than just saying “Judeo-Christian values.”

Now I get that using this phrase may be to separate themselves it’s not the Religion of Peace (which very clearly endorses theocratic fascism) or atheism (both of which deny the divinity of human life)…oh sure atheists say they value human life under their philosophy of secular humanism, but atheism denies any metaphysical reason for human life to have value…so basically it’s them telling me I should just take it on “faith” that human life has value…which rings a little hollow.   But as I pointed out before the phrase also separates you from a lot of religions that do share these ethical values.

So which values am I missing that has an effect on our political structures, rules, and laws that separate Judeo-Christianity from the values of most the other religions on Earth?  I’m not denying the importance of the relationship  a person has with God, or that spiritual beliefs were important in the founding of this nation and is continuance today.  I just want to know if there is a value you think exists in the Judeo-Christian tradition that is necessary for the continuance of this nation that is specific only to the the Judeo-Christian tradition.

And I ask all of this, not because I just want to insult people, but because I have a second argument about this term and how it may be hurting us politically, but I first need to know if there is something about this term that I don’t understand coming from an outsider’s perspective.

*And don’t you dare to try and defend that man as a conservative.  If you look at his record he never met a tax, a regulation, or bribe he didn’t like.

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BiWeekly Meditation–Looking for the Win-Win Solution

“[Adam] Smith noted that in all transactions, both parties come out better for it.”–Republicans And Reincarnation 

Weekly Meditation: The Sixth Chakra.


Okay, first let me say that I’m switching to bi weekly mediations.  I’ve been doing this for two year and (taking the few weeks I skipped) that’s about 100 meditations, (That’s a lot of meditations) if you need something to focus on to center your mind, it’s not like they have a shelf life and go bad after two weeks.  So rather than keep coming up with stuff every week, I’m going to switch to doing these every other week.

And I think that works out best for everyone, it allows me to take more time to plan these, and you more time to get something out of every meditations.

It’s a win-win.  Which happens to be the theme of this meditation.

As many of my more loyal readers know, I am a huge fan of capitalism.  And besides the fact that it’s the only system that works and is sustainable, there are all the ethical reasons I support capitalism.  One of them is that capitalism is the only system that allows for a win-win scenario. Every honest transaction in capitalism benefits both the seller and the buyer–you both get something you want and you both make your lives better for it.  It’s why this system is the only one that creates prosperity, creates wealth, creates ideas and innovation, and creates a better society.  It’s a system where no one has to lose.  Every other system there HAS TO BE a loser, with liberty and true capitalism the only losers are the ones who don’t engage in the system of free exchange and try to be the most virtuous person they can.  It is the system that models the growth of our souls to enlightenment, everyone can get there, but it is only by choice, work and will power they will.*

But one of the reasons I think so many people are opposed to it is because they are stuck in a win-lose mind set.  They think that every situation has to have a winner and a loser.  If you’re doing better I’m doing worse.  In reality this isn’t so.  With the exception of the artificial nature of sports, life doesn’t have to be about winners and losers.  If one company does well it doesn’t mean its competition must fail, it only means that its competition must adapt, possibly by improving their product, possibly by going in a new direction…and the consumer benefits from both (Microsoft AND Apple seem to be doing well, as well as they myriad of companies that benefit because they do well and the chain of thought goes on and on). Just because you get a promotion doesn’t mean I lost, I now have further opportunities to shine, and I don’t have to feel pressured by the comparison (or a thousand other ways to look at it…a lot of situations come down to how we choose to interpret them and react to them.  If you look at most situations as opportunities, you will seldom find a loss).

But let’s be honest, since there are people with the win-lose attitude instead of the win-win attitude, it does spill into our lives whether we want it or not.  So we have to show people that there are win-win solutions where we can find them.  We have to look for them, we have to propose them to those around us, and we have to convince people.  But the first part of this is that we have to look for them.  So I would recommend either in the evening to spend ten to twenty minutes reviewing all the situations you had during the day that devolved into win-lose situations (or the morning to look back on the previous day).  Look for the ways that they could have been win-win solutions for all involved.  Run it through your mind for to see if there were multiple ways it could have been a win-win.  And do this not with guilt or self-recrimination.  You’re looking at this to get you mind in the habit of looking for win-win opportunities, not to chide yourself for not seeing them at the time they occurred.  The only way you’re going to be being to see them as they occur is if your review previous encounters and see what other possibilities were open that you did not see at the time. And, like so many of these meditations, isn’t something you’re not going to pick up immediately.  It’s a skill that needs to be nurtured, refined, and practiced before you get really good at it.

Now, I do need to point out that just because you can see the win-win solution it does not mean you can convince others.  I remember a time I tried to help someone with a project at work and they incredibly behind on.  This person at first attacked me because they saw my attempt to help them get through the project faster as an insult and responded rather angrily with comments like “I said I’ll get it done and I’ll get it done” (even though they were past the deadline) and then told me “if you want to do this all, fine, I would rather be doing something else.”  This person saw only the win-lose, either they did all the work, or I did all the work, only one person gets free time (yes this had bled into working on the weekend).  It became clear that the win-win of if we both do this we’d both get out of here quickly wasn’t open to this person.  So I shut down my computer, went home, and finished the project later that night when the portion I was waiting on was finished.  If it’s going to be win-lose, I have no intention of being the loser.  And it is at this point that you need to understand if someone makes it clear that there is only a win-lose situation, you should not act like a martyr and think that you should be the one to lose.  Like the Constitution, spiritual enlightenment, is not a suicide pact.  If it’s going to be win-lose, and you’re tried to make an attempt to show any win-win opportunities you can think of, if it is the other person choosing the losing philosophy don’t let yourself be harmed by it.

 

So for the next two weeks look for the win-win opportunities and see you can reduce the stress and increase the moments of peace (and maybe even enlightenment) in your life.

*Okay there might be divine grace in there too, but that has no parallel in any economic system…unless we want to get into voluntary charity, which again is a liberty/capitalism thing.

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Philosophy Basics for Atheists (i.e. morons)



So I just read this truly stupid comment on tumblr in reference to my blog that historically any country that legally enforces atheism is far more violent and genocidal than nations that enforce other religions.*

“OK, atheism is not a religion and it’s certainly not a moral code. Atheism is just the non-belief in a god. That’s all it is. Now stop throwing straw men about and use that brain of yours you so proudly claim to have in your blog description.”**

This is a statement typical of the absolute idiocy of atheism. At least Christian nutjobs will admit that it’s faith and not reason that is behind their stupid ideas…but Atheists have not only the idiocy to mistake their faith for reason, but also the arrogance to then believe what they mistake for reason makes them better than anyone else.

So just to be clear I see two explicit lies here and on implicit lie.

  1. Atheism is not a religion: Lie.
  2. That the faith based metaphysical beliefs of not believing in a God have no effect on a moral code: Lie.
  3. Thus atheism does not come with a moral code: Lie.

So let’s go over these.

First, I’ve dealt with this dozens of times, but let’s go over it again: to not believe in God is an act of faith.

You have no proof that God doesn’t exist. Further it is logically impossible, let me repeat LOGICALLY IMPOSSIBLE, to prove a negative.  Thus to believe in something that cannot be proven in any way, shape, or form, is an act of faith.  It is believing in something you can’t know, and can’t prove, ever.  That’s faith.  That’s about as close to the definition of faith and religion as you can get.

And if you have a belief system based on an article of faith, that’s a religious belief.  It may not be an organized belief, it may be the very antithesis of the colloquial meaning of spiritual, but it is a religion.  Webster’s defines religion as: “7. a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith” and any atheist who wants to argue with me on that is insane, your belief in no God supplies the “cause, principle, or system of beliefs” the fact that you have no proof provides the “faith” and the fact that you’re arguing about it provides the “ardor.”  And it comes with its own sets of dogmatic beliefs.  There is the big bang, there is evolution. The fact that those theories still have some big holes in them, does not matter…nothing must deviate from the dogma.  Anyone who points out that the jump from random chemical to self replicating cells is a statistical impossibility and requires more than just the theory of evolution to make sense must be shouted down and burned at the stake.

But here let me pull another objection to my statement that atheism is a religion from the internet:

“Atheism isn’t a religion, and there are no atheists that I’ve ever heard of that have claimed themselves to be a “religion” of anything.  You’ve heard the arguments about atheism not being a religion before no doubt; you’ve just chosen to ignore them.”

Oh, so because atheists themselves don’t claim they’re a religion then they’re not.  You know, I’ve never heard any Nazis claim that they’re the personification of evil, and I’ve even heard arguments from Nazis that they’re right and good and true…I guess they must not be evil because they said so.  After all they said so.  Just because you argue you’re not something doesn’t make it true. O.J. tried to argue that he’s not a killer…reality said something different.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t think you’re a religion, you have a belief based on an article of faith that is utterly impossible to prove.  It only adds to the fact that this person is an idiot, that he thinks that dismissing the pointless claims that atheism isn’t a religion is stupid, yet the fact that there is evidence that God exists (not entirely conclusive evidence I’ll grant you, but evidence) and he just chooses to ignore that isn’t a problem for this moron at all.

“But you don’t have any proof that God does exist either” the standard line goes.   You’re right, except for the logical impossibility of an infinite regression series in causality***, the fact the big bang statistically should have produced as much matter and anti-mater making a psychical universe all but impossible, the fact that random chemicals can’t just turn into self replicating cells, the fact that evolved chimps can’t just magically become sentient, the fact that near death experiences show that memories are formed when there is no electrical charge in the brain, and a thousand other pieces of evidence that suggest that there is a soul and a God…yes, I have no evidence. And while each piece of evidence I could bring up could be explained away on its own, the totality of it suggests quite strongly that there is a God.

“But you don’t have iron clad arguments” the argument goes.  True, but I’m not claiming that I’m not relying on faith to fill in the places reason can’t provide an answer, you are.

atheists are idiots

When you lose the reason for causality the whole story just sounds stupid.

But then the idiot Atheists like to bring up the truly idiotic thought experiment called “Russell’s Teapot.”  It’s a silly thought experiment that says there might be a teapot orbiting the sun, but since no one has provided any proof then we must assume that it doesn’t exist until someone provides proof.  And thus the burden of proof is on people who believe in God to prove that he exists.  (This again ignores all the evidence that does exist, it’s very convenient that Atheist always equate lack of absolute proof with lack of any proof).  First of all whether there is or isn’t a teapot has no effect on my life which is one of the reason why it is totally incomparable to God.  There might be a massive asteroid hurtling toward earth that could destroy the whole place, since this will have an effect on our lives, we have telescopes looking for it even though it may not exist.  Just because you come up with a charming example that uses a teapot doesn’t just mean you get to decide who has the burden of proof.  If you want to be purely based in reason you take no stance and be an agnostic.  If you want to believe there is no God and hold that as a belief, then you have no burden of proof other than your own feelings. But if you want me to believe you don’t say that you don’t have to prove your beliefs—if you’re going to publically make a statement of fact (that there is no God) you better back it up.  You cannot say reason is on your side but someone has to prove you wrong and you don’t have to prove your case.

And finally Atheists I now see are trying something really stupid.  Now they’re calling themselves agnostic atheists.  In this bizarre argument, there are agnostic atheists and gnostic atheists, agnostic theists, and gnostic theists. The gnostics in both groups (in a bizarre perversion of the English meaning of the word Gnostic) believe deeply, whereas the agnostics aren’t sure and try to portray themselves as being purely reasonable. This of course is preposterous as every idiot I have heard describe themselves “agnostic atheist” (and thus should not feel the need to argue about a belief they do not hold strongly) will attack you like a rabid Doberman if you even so much as question the logical basis of atheism.  It’s like socialists describing themselves as “progressives” or “moderate” or “centrists” or anything else, doesn’t change the fact that you’re batshit crazy. Think of this being a gnostic theist would mean you believe you can prove God doesn’t exist (logically impossible) or a being an agnostic theist would mean you believe in something you believe you can’t know, even through faith (which would be just dumb).  So I doubt you’ll find anyone dumb enough to be in those two categories. So really you have atheists and theists…and you have people who don’t have a real opinion agnostics, which this stupid 4 part chart doesn’t account for. You may try to make yourself sound more logical, but you’re an atheist, end of story.

Further this distinction ignores that it doesn’t matter how strongly you believe in your atheism, it matters which side you picked.

And this brings up to the second lie, the implicit one, that being an atheist doesn’t affect the rest of your philosophical beliefs. Actually it does.  Choices have consequences.  Philosophy is not a buffet where you can pick and chose beliefs as the writer of lies above would have you believe.

So first some quick background (this will be a refresher course if you already read Republicans and Reincarnation).

 

There are four**** main branches of philosophy: Metaphysic, epistemology, ethics and politics.

Metaphysics: the philosophy about the nature of the universe, what is true, what exists, teleology, and of course religion.

Epistemology: the philosophy of how we know or if we can know.  It’s a really annoying field of lots of hair splitting and hypotheticals.  But this deals with the acceptability of reason and faith in finding truth.

Ethics: How individuals should act and what is the purpose of their actions.

Politics: The ethics of groups and how the individual relates to the group and vice versa.

The lie above would have you believe that these four branches are separated.  That my beliefs about God (i.e. metaphysics) has nothing to do with my beliefs about epistemology, ethics, or politics.

Wrong. Oh so wrong.

Metaphysics affects your beliefs about epistemology. If there is not God there is not Truth beyond the laws of nature, there is no ethical Truth, there is not political Truth, no moral Truth…no truth at all outside of the laws of physics…and even then epistemologically you’re on shaky ground finding a philosophical basis for getting past skepticism because without God all that brain of yours is a sack of meat and electrical signals, there is no philosophical ground to trust it actually knows what it’s doing.

And your Metaphysical and Epistemological beliefs directly create your ethics.  What is true and what you can know is what creates value and what has value is what we direct our life toward.  The values of life if there is a soul and God are radically different from the values without them.

And obviously this change in ethics forms the basis for radically divergent forms of government.

And this then all comes to the third lie, that Atheism is not a moral code.

Atheism holds there is no God. Thus there is no soul.  Thus there cannot be free will.  You cannot rationally hold that there is free will if there is no soul, because free will to be free must be free of the laws of physics.  Choice doesn’t exist, if all your actions are determined only by chemical reactions in your brain. If there is no soul then your brain is simply a collection of chemicals running certain chemical reactions based on stimuli from the outside environment.  Without a soul your brain is nothing but an extremely complex computer running a program.   It may break, it may not work properly, but there is not choice in the matter, there are only reactions determined by the laws of physics.

And if there is no soul and there is no free will the question of value becomes extremely difficult.  Why are you a collection of chemical reactions more valuable than a tree, or a rock, or chemical reaction in a high school chemistry lab?  All are just collections of chemicals operating without choice by the mindless sequence of physical reactions of the their base elements.  Now, atheist Ayn Rand tried make the argument that since we are self-aware and beings of reason we are ends in ourselves…but even her argument depends on free will and an intrinsic value of the human life (both dependent on the soul) and if she ever applied her logic that contradistinctions cannot exist to her own beliefs she would have seen this.

Without the soul and free will human life cannot have value in and of itself.  And any atheist who would like to claim that human life has value in and of itself, I would like to know how you can possibly claim one set of chemical reactions can have more value than another.  And to believe that life has no value is a moral code with very definite moral implications. Ah, but maybe it’s because we’re really complex systems of chemical reactions (why complexity should be valued more than simplicity is a moral judgment without philosophical basis in a Godless universe…also the universe prefers the simplicity of complete chaos and entropy…complexity can only occur in order and lack of chaos, very against the nature of the universe)…but let’s say for the moment it’s because of complexity.  That immediately requires you admit that something more complex would be of more value of human life…let’s call this more complex thing, oh I don’t know, the Herrenvolk…do I even have to explain where that moral code leads?

Not to say all atheists are immoral or act as if human life has no value, most act as if human life has value…but that’s kind of odd for people who rail about how their reason is superior to everyone else’s but somehow are acting on a belief they have no reasonable or logical cause to believe in.  I guess they take that human life has value as an act of faith.

You can’t logically say we should all treat each other with respect and dignity if you no metaphysical reason why humans are so special.

And politically this gets really screwed up, because if there is no intrinsic value to human life, then there are no natural rights, then at best the most you can come up with is a utilitarian system that aims for whatever goal or end you decide (because without the value of the soul, the individual ceases to be the ultimate value and thus value can be whatever you want it to be).  And under utilitarianism anything is permissible (as history has shown time and time again), any atrocity is acceptable so long as it accomplishes whatever your final goal and final solution is.

Now Atheists will like to tell you that this is wrong.  That they do believe in the value of the individual, but they can’t exactly give you a philosophical reason for it.  That they don’t believe in the evils of Unitarianism in practice (Nazism, socialism, communism) but oddly enough all of these governments in history have done everything they can to outlaw, to abolish and to prevent any religion other than atheism.  Why?  Because religion gives value to the individual, and thus rights and reason and free will and value and a soul. Something other than the State to believe in and follow.

To say that atheism does not come with a moral code is to say that ideas do not have consequences.  It is to say that they believe in reason but refuse to follow ideas to their logical conclusions.  You cannot have it both ways. Either you embrace reason and thus metaphysical points affects ethics and morality, or you don’t believe in reason.

And history has shown that the logical conclusion of atheism on any grand scale is never something we would call ethical.

Yes there are some truly psychotic and idiotic beliefs and morals in various religions, but the flaws in certain religions does not negate the massive flaws at the very heart of atheism:  Calling it faith, believes that choices do not have consequences, and believes that a belief that destroys the value of human life is not someone’s perverted moral code.

But please tell me where my logic is wrong…other than just whining that “Atheism isn’t a religion, atheism isn’t a religion.”

*Just in case some idiot doesn’t bother to read the article and want to make an argument without doing even the slightest bit of research, like, I don’t, clicking on the link, I do point out that enforcing any belief leads to bloodshed and that secular pluralistic governments are best…but as few atheists actually want a pluralistic society as shown by their vicious push to have everything but their beliefs banned by law, it’s not really a valid point.

**Before you ask I’m not linking to the fucking idiot who said this, they don’t deserve a higher hit count.

***The argument by cause is actually a very strong argument, as it logically requires something infinite, outside of time and space, with volition, and intelligence.  It is logically impossible for there not to be something like this, and as Aquinas would say, this we call God.  The problem with the argument by cause is it doesn’t tell you much about God, and that is why it is a weak argument–the other arguments are required to tell you anything about God.

****Five really, but aesthetics has little to do with this discussion.

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Reflections on the Election: Why I was wrong, Why Obama Won, and what the GOP needs to do. Part III

It’s been a month since the election…and as you can tell from the limited number of posts, I’m still kind of depressed Obama won, America Lostabout this (and overworked at work, but that’s another story).  I’m still shell-shocked that people could be that stupid—even I, who believe the masses are idiots, can’t fully comprehend that people are so fucking stupid as to vote in a tyrant not once but twice.  It baffles the mind.  If you care about only what you can get you should have voted for the guy who would guarantee a higher chance at raises and better jobs: Romney.  If you cared about other people you should have cared about the guy who would have done the most to improve the middle class: Mitt.  If you care about character it would be the guy who personally does charity whenever he can: Willard Mitt Romney. Intelligence, that would be the guy who got his J.D. and MBA in the same 4 years: The Governor.  Experience, class, vision, leadership, surrounding himself with qualified people.  On every criteria you can come up with it’s a no brainer, but, but, but…

People are really fucking short sighted, envious and dumb.

But are we just powerless to do anything? Are we at the mercy of party leadership to pull us out of this tailspin the country has voted itself in (dear god that’s a depressing thought)?  Luckily no.  Unfortunately I’m not promising anything easy either.

So what can we as individuals do?

Well first I would like to turn back to the exit polls.  Now looking at ethnicity or gender or even age is pointless because there is nothing we can do to change that.   People are what they are.  (Yes, age changes, but it’s not like we have any actual control over it).

2012 exit polls education

Now education can change (complete shocker that Obama the no intelligence/no high school bracket and the no real world experience/postgraduate bracket) but unless you’re a parent most of us can’t really affect people’s education.  If you are a parent, I might suggest that you state you’re not paying for any kind of college education unless they get a degree in the Math/Science area and thus have marketable skills (if they want to get a dual major and have a liberal art as well, well you can negotiate) but parents do not pay for Sociology degrees they are worthless and breed dumb liberals.

2012 exit polls single

Next we turn to gender and marriage status.  A lot of to do was made about women in this election, but as you see it wasn’t really women so much as single women.  And I have seen conservative writers talk about how the single women pose a threat to liberty as they seem to look to the government for the security nets…but it if you look at the data single men are also pretty dumb. The conclusion I’m drawing here isn’t that women are liberal, it’s that single people on the whole are liberal and need to be stopped.  (Yes, I as a bachelor, may not want to throw stones in a glass house, but I’m not as dumb as my fellow singles who voted for Barry…but if you are or know any single, intelligent, conservative, spiritually open women in the Phoenix area…well…my email address is posted…).  Now does this mean we should all go out and get married without standards or relationships, that marriage is an end unto itself. No.  One of the reasons we have a high divorce rate is that people don’t take the time to plan and make sure they’re making a right choice.  So really unless you want to start playing matchmaker which some of us are more qualified than others (this would certainly not be a skill of mine).

2012 exit polls religion

And then we see that Obama did well with the non-religious crowd* and Romney did well with the religious crowd.  Let me put these last two points in context. It doesn’t have as much to do with faith or companionship.  For a lot of people it is an issue of safety.  If you have a spouse, if you have an active church community you have someone you know you can fall back on if things go bad, if you don’t have these things, then the psychology of most people is to seek something you can fall back on: the government.  Now I would rather people evolve and see themselves as their fallback (or at least maybe God) but if we’re going to get there we first have to have an economic system that allows people to take care of themselves (i.e. we need to get rid of liberals and progressives at every level).

So what does this have to do with religion?  Well it means that if you’re a member of a church you need to encourage, push for, and if necessary demand, that your church be more active in the community—charity, public works and improvement projects, fundraisers not for the church but those honestly in need. This should have nothing to do with demonization or dogma.  Only about helping the community and strengthening the bonds of community.

If you’re not in a church, say a New Ager, it couldn’t hurt to find a non-pushy church out there and see if they would like help with those charity projects.

If you’re in a church that does do these kinds of charity projects then see if you can invite people you know to help, don’t proselytize, don’t make it about belief, only about helping others.  (Also may I suggest making your charity functions known to the local middle and high schools—students, especially college bound students, are more and more looking for community service on their resumes—and let them know their parents are invited as well).

This has nothing to do with dogma, it has to with a core tenet in every religion I can think of, charity, community, compassion.

Show people that government isn’t the only source that they can fall back on.  Look at it this way, the way people talk about others often shows how they themselves think.  I call it the “I am the world” fallacy, and I’m guilty of it myself sometimes, we all are.  We tend to make assumptions about the way people act based on our own habits and thoughts.  Conservatives naturally tend to think that the government isn’t needed because we ourselves are more generous and just assume everybody does the right thing.  Liberals assume others are avaricious, cruel, irrationally selfish, and miserly not because they’re saints and know everyone else is stingy, but because they themselves are not compassionate at their heart—they fear they will have no one to fall back on because in their heart of heart they know they won’t help other either.  (Liberals give to charity less than conservatives and they volunteer a hell of a lot less than conservatives, see Who Really Cares by Arthur C. Brooks).

But if we get people who might not usually attend church to come to charity events we can show them that people do care for people and that we don’t need government to care for us…and maybe we can even show them there is personal joy in compassion and charity.  Trust me, a person who does charity out of the joy it brings them never votes liberal, liberals give out of guilt not joy.

So get your church (or any other group that has the resources) involved in the community (if you’re not doing at least 3 events a month, it’s not enough), invite people to come just for the charity aspect, and watch their belief that the government is the only one looking out for them disappear (also with more human contact and larger social circles we might fix that single problem listed above).

Also this process will help destroy that one thing that Obama did well in “He cares about people like me.”

2012 exit polls key points

Charity and a strong community teach us that we are capable of caring for people who aren’t like ourselves.

But that can’t be all we have to do.  Liberals have done a great job with controlling the media.  News, movies, TV shows, you name it there are liberal messages.  But we cannot give in on this.

So there are a few things we can do.  The first is that we can try to pull their funding.  Here at the Conservative New Ager we’re going after that Goebbels style propaganda wing MSNBC.  We encourage people to write to their advertisers and pull their ads.  It works.  If a company just gets a hundred letters asking them to make sure the shows they are advertising on are only reporting the truth, they will either pull the ads or they will use the power their money buys them to get results.  We have already heard from P&G and UPS.

The next thing is that we need to expose people to the truth.  I would recommend everyone use all the social media they have to expose their friends to the truth.  Now you don’t have to repost a thousand articles every day, but don’t be afraid to share something for fear of losing a friend.  For everyone you lose you’ll likely help push a two or three that much closer to the truth.  (And if you’re like me you don’t have many liberal friends left anyway, it’s the middle we’re trying to win, not the ones beyond hope).

Also if you get a real newspaper (there aren’t many left: The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times…if it uses AP articles don’t bother) take it to work and leave it in the break room every day.  It can only help expose people to the truth.

But on that note we need to share the media that is conservative we need to focus on the stuff that isn’t the news and isn’t explicitly political.  Liberals have tried to infect every book, every movie, every show with liberal messages and just habituate people into thinking in liberal terms.  The problem is that most good literature is more conservative in its themes.  Self sufficiency, rational thought, ethical behavior, connection to God.  These subtle themes are in literature everywhere, even when it’s written by artists who are liberal themselves.  George Orwell was a socialist, but 1984 and Animal Farm are scathing critiques of the very state Orwell would likely have supported.   Given time, the truth will out, as a conservative writer once put it. What conservatives make the mistake of doing is trying to give people Atlas Shrugged and Ann Coulter and Thomas Sowell.  It doesn’t matter that we enjoy those, those books only preach to the choir.  If someone isn’t open to those ideas, if they’ve been indoctrinated to think conservatives are evil, Rand was psychotic, Coulter is vicious and Sowell is an Uncle Tom, it doesn’t matter if the facts are there, their emotional reaction to those works will prevent them from seeing the facts.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t share books and TV shows with friends, family, acquaintances. I’m sure we know lots of people who are not conservative but if they were introduced to those ideas the logic and reason of it would come out.  That is why I am putting together a list of books, movies and TV shows that depict the conservative themes and that we agree with, without being explicitly conservative.   The Individual, reason, ethical behavior, long term thinking, the truth.  These are things that bring people close to conservatism.  I would take a look at this list (and keep coming back as I hope to keep adding to it).  Lend these works out to people who you think might be open to them.  Give them as gifts for any holiday and any excuse you can.  And then discuss them with the person after they’ve read or watched it (never give out something you’re not familiar with already!  You don’t want to get caught where they make some silly liberal interpretation and don’t have a comeback for it).  It seems silly but ideas have power, and once they’re in a person’s mind they spread not just to affecting the other ideas of that mind but in the way they behave to others and the way they influence the ideas of others.  And if they get more conservative in their thoughts introduce them to the more explicitly conservative works…but don’t start with those, they’ll just shut people down.

Finally it’s the old stand-bys.  Write a blog or letters to editors.  Donate to organizations that promote your beliefs (right now I would focus on Heritage and Freedomwork because they do not seem overly obsessed with the social issues which are dragging this party down and giving the left too many easy targets), volunteer for campaigns, get involved.  We have four years where we can do next to nothing to save the economy or well being of our allies across the sea.  Nothing.  We have this idiot tyrant in charge and he will wreck the place as much as he can through a combination of stupidity and malice.  Focusing too much on that will be somewhat fruitless for us as individuals—but as individuals we do have the power to influence those around us and help bring them to our side.

*Also Obama did exceedingly well with people who aren’t not affiliated with any religion but are spiritual  you know, the kind of people the Republicans and Reincarnation was written specifically for.  If you know some of these people, could it hurt to give them a copy?

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How a New Ager Views History

 

How a New Age looks back on history…

So in the last week I’ve been asked by several conservatives why I am still fairly hopeful for the future (the long term, not the short term—short term sucks) in light of the fact that both here in America and basically everywhere overseas we’ve been guaranteed at minimum four years of going to Hell in a hand basket.

 

Now my optimism is an extension of my faith.  I see mankind as moving toward Enlightenment, not just of some, but eventually of everyone.  And while Hinduism and Buddhism have many statements about everyone eventually reaching Enlightenment, I always like to go to prose of A Course in Miracles:

“You are as certain of arriving home as is the pathway of the sun laid down

before it rises, after it has set, and in the half-lit hours in between. Indeed,

your pathway is more certain still. For it can not be possible to change the

course of those whom God has called to Him.”

I have faith that humanity is moving toward complete Enlightenment.  It is not a question of if, it is at most a question of when.* It will happen.  Every soul will reach complete Enlightenment and return to being one with God.

 

Now it’s easy to say this as a statement of faith, but even the faithful need something to justify a belief in…and more importantly need to at least see that in the long run there is nothing to contradict this viewpoint.

 

 

So let’s look at this.  As I pointed out in Republicans and Reincarnation, whether you want to use the system of chakras or a myriad of other versions in other cultures, there seem to be seven stages in the evolution of the soul back to Enlightenment. More or less each stage corresponds to the energy and issues often associated with each Chakra.

 

 

Now we could go over each stage and each chakra, and I know you love when I make these blogs like ten pages long, but the fact of the matter is that, right now, I would say only the smallest portion of humanity are above the issues of the third chakra.

 

The first chakra, the root chakra, is associated with our physical existence.  Do we have enough to survive?  Are we safe in this instant?  Do we live in fear for our existence?  Do I live?

 

The second chakra deals with safety and security.  Not just surviving in the instant as the first chakra looks to, but to long term safety and comfort.  Not just do I have what I need but do I have what I want?  Do I win?

 

The third Chakra deals with self control and self awareness.  Not just having things but doing things?  Not just comfort but achievement.  Do I strive?

 

(The first three chakras are remarkably similar to the first three levels of Maslow’s hierarchy.)

 

 

Now since at some level each soul is connected to each other even if one soul is extremely advanced they are affected by those around them.  This is why stories of ascended masters and saints often describe them having a positive effect on people just by their presence and conversely why it is best to avoid being in proximity of those who are very negative.  And since we are all connected society as a whole acts like much in the way of an average of the collective evolution of all its souls. And as all souls are reincarnated and evolve so does society.* So, the question then becomes, if I’m right, and the world is experiencing a continuous growth in spiritual evolution is there any evidence of it?

The answer is yes.

 

If the average of people were working out problems with level one then society would be about survival, it would be about power, it would be about having more and more, not quality or comfort, but more in a numerical value where the chief worry is famine or invasion.  You would see constant conquest, constant struggle, and constant fear about not having enough.  Sure there might be the occasional enlightened person or at least some not consumed by a desire for protection and safety, but they’re the exception (and groups of them are especially the exception.  To a person or a society at this level, the universe is chaotic, uncaring maybe even vengeful—there is no way to reason with others, with God, with life, there is only power and ability to survive (in practice, it’s a little Hobbesian).   This pretty much describes all history until around 1400 CE.  The rulers always had to have more, the common people never really complained so long as they were promised safety (ignore whether that promise was actually kept).  At your highest moments most people were looking for no more than bread and circuses.

 

For a society where the average level of the second level you would find people not so much concerned with just safety but now with comfort (and at its worst decadence).  You won’t see as much a desire for power but for rules and order.  You would see an outlook that saw the universe not as chaotic, but ordered…still often uncaring, but not capriciously so.  And again we see this in history.  Starting just before the turn of the common era you see society from Europe to China more concerned with rules, with what we would match the requirement of any general definition of civilization.  And from this point until around 1400 you see the battle conflict between the predominant themes of level 1 and 2 defining the time, power vs. rules. And from 1400 from the Renaissance/Scientific Revolution in the West, Ottoman control in the Middle East and the Qing Dynasty in the East.  Not that the world is suddenly a bastion of humanity and good will toward each other, but the focus seems to have made a massive switch from a universe defined by brute force to one defined by rules (often very evil rules, but rules nonetheless).

 

And with level three we see people and society move from a concern not just with things but with the individual, with personal accomplishment and personal achievement—of a search within one’s self for what they want.  And while there have been strains here and there of this dating back even to the ancient world, this strain started to appear en mass in the 1700’s. (I know I’m going over this in very general detail and often ignoring those moments where this group or that makes a major step forward or back…and if anyone wants I’ll go into more detail, I will, but for now the very broad swaths seem to make the most sense).

 

And now we are beginning to see the whole world tilt from an average of level two to level 3.  (Yes the unfortunate side effect of level 3 is a me, me, me attitude…but it’s slightly better than resigning yourself to fate.)

 

Now also with this you’ll see that when you switch from one level to another there seems to be a purge of the old ideology through what is unfortunately a very effective way for people to learn, suffering.  (Aeschylus stated in Agamemnon that “Only through suffering do we learn.” This is not the only way people learn, but sadly, so often, many people only learn when they hit rock bottom and have to confront their beliefs without any illusions.) In that transition between level one and two you have the world wide pandemic.  A great karmic blowout that cleared out the majority of the issues from the old way of thinking and ushered into the new.  And if you apply this basic line of thought you see it is true also in smaller societies as you see this growth in smaller more concentrated areas.  And I think we’re in for an economic equivalent of this purge now as we move from an average of level 2 to level 3.  Now, given the fact that there does seem to be some increase in speed between levels one and two, I hope this karmic purge doesn’t take the century it did in the 1300’s, hopefully we’re right in the middle of it with only 4 years or so left.

 

Oh sure you can probably say I’ve engaged in this fallacy or that, superimposing my beliefs and interpretations onto what are otherwise unrelated events or issues.  But like I said, this is primarily about an issue of faith. I am merely showing that my faith isn’t completely without justification and doesn’t contradict what we know to be fact (unlike, say, ignoring all the evidence that shows your creation myth might be a little off from what really happened), you may not believe it, but at least it isn’t completely baseless.
So why I am optimistic?  Because I believe, not entirely without reason, that this is the storm before the calm and what lays on the other side is well worth the inconvenience in between.

 

*Technically time itself is an illusion, so I’m not sure if it’s really a question of when either.

**Yes even I have said that reincarnation does not necessarily go in a straight line through time, but most souls at the level one and two levels are more comfortable still perceiving time as linear and thus their souls reincarnate in this linear fashion.  And yes, since some people have pointed this out, souls reincarnating out of linear order in time does do some fascinating things to the laws of causality…I will defer to a much better writer to describe it: “People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually, from a non-linear non-subjective viewpoint, it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly timey wimey… stuff.”

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Why we fight, or, I will not shrug

“Mr. Rearden,” said Francisco, his voice solemnly calm, “if you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders-what would you tell him to do?”
“I . . . don’t know. What . . . could he do? What would you tell him?”

To keep doing what he knew in his heart to be right, no matter the cost, no matter the struggle.

So in amongst all the stupid idiots claiming that Romney didn’t win because he wasn’t conservative enough (yes, because his economics were more conservative than Reagan’s, his foreign policy was as conservative as Reagan’s and like Reagan he seemed to have a certain libertarian streak for social issues at the federal level…no, not conservative at all) and all the bickering over “demographics are destiny” (possibly the stupidest line I’ve ever heard), I heard a very bleak assessment by Dennis Miler:

I like a country where people bust their tuckus, and I think this country’s gone a long way towards becoming more of a European model. And I would say, once again, read the book, Amity Shlaes’ book, The Forgotten Man. If you are out there now making $45,000 a year, busting your hump, being away from your family because it’s in your hard drive to do the ‘right thing’– the ‘right thing’ changed in this country yesterday. You can get close to that from the government. And I’m telling you, when Nancy Pelosi said ‘kids take some time off, read a book, learn an instrument’ well listen it’s not always about kids, sometimes it’s about these hard working guys out there who I feel sorry for. And I would tell them, get in the hand out line, don’t get in the hand down line anymore—it doesn’t make sense.

I understand where Miller is coming from…all too well. That’s what is so disheartening about this election is that 62 million people voted to ensure that the 300 million in this nation will continue to suffer, continue to struggle, continue to lose what they have made and continue to work for what must seem to no avail. And damn them and their shortsighted grasping evil ways. They voted in a tyrant that will hurt the people of this nation and the world. And it just hurts to see that there is nothing we can do about it right now.

But Miller is wrong; the right thing did not change on Election Day.

The right thing before the election and after is to do what is right. And it will never be right to take something that has been stolen from another person. It will never be right not do everything in your power to make your life, your family’s life and the world around you better through whatever means you have.

I understand what Miller is saying, and I understand why he feels that way. But I cannot give up. It is just not in my nature. I was pretty depressed on Tuesday night and I even briefly took a longer than usual look at all those emails I get with offers to teach overseas (they were still not tempting enough). But what got me through were two things. The first was my faith in the universe that everything happens for a reason and that eventually everything will work out as it should—even if there are periods of extreme pain and suffering.

The second were two quotes.

The first was from one of my preferred British politicians, Tony Blair:

That’s what we’re fighting for. And it’s a battle worth fighting.
And I know it’s hard on America, and in some small corner of this vast country, out in Nevada or Idaho or these places I’ve never been to, but always wanted to go…
I know out there there’s a guy getting on with his life, perfectly happily, minding his own business, saying to you, the political leaders of this country, “Why me? And why us? And why America?”
And the only answer is, “Because destiny put you in this place in history, in this moment in time, and the task is yours to do.”

The quote may have originally been about the war in Iraq, but the sentiment is still true. There is right and there is wrong. There are policies that promote liberty and there are those that promote tyranny. It doesn’t matter if you want the fight or not, if the fight is there and you recognize right from wrong then “destiny put you in this place in history, in this moment in time, and the task is yours to do.”

But what if I just let some else do it?

And that’s where the second quote comes in, from one of the greatest movies ever made: Casablanca.

When asked why we fight, the character of Victor Laszlo gives the perfect answer.

Rick: Don’t you sometimes wonder if it’s worth all this? I mean what you’re fighting for.
Victor Laszlo: You might as well question why we breathe. If we stop breathing, we’ll die. If we stop fighting our enemies, the world will die.

There is right and there is wrong. Good and evil. And every step Obama has made has been in the absolute wrong direction, and I have no faith he’s going to change course. (If he did, hell I’d support him—but I’m not so stupid as to think for one second he will). And thus whatever limited power I have through this blog, through my interactions with others; I have to use to push against this man and the ideology he represents.

Capitalism.  Liberty.  The Individual.  What is Right, and Good, and True, and Just.  America.  These are things worth fighting for, regardless of whether we win or not.  The fight holds its own virtue and is never in vain, for even if we don’t win this battle, or the next, or the next we provide the groundwork for the next person to pick up where we left off.

I’m not terribly convinced I’m going to win this fight in the short run. A miracle could always happen, but only a fool bets on them. But we do what is right because it is right, not because we are assured of winning. Yes there are times to make tactical retreats (which I think everyone forgets Atlas Shrugged was supposed to be, but Rand in her ever inefficient way hammered the let them have what they want point and forgot to hammer harder the point of we need to do this to have a chance to actually win in the long run) but that does not mean give up. So despite the taunting of some trolls, and despite Miller’s depressed statement. I will still be my workaholic self, because to be anything less would not be true to myself and for me would be unethical. And I will continue to use this blog and any other means I can find to advocate for what I believe to be true. Now I’m also going to divert a lot of the energy I’ve put into the blog for the last year into other projects I have neglected…
…but I will not shrug. And I hope I am not the only one.

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Why I’m A Conservative and A New Ager

[I had a request to turn a comment I made on a previous blog into a blog of it’s own…so if this seems repetitive…that’s why…]

Recently a commenter left the following post:

I was really hoping to find a softer side of Conservatism here. I can’t seem to find that wherever I look. I also can’t understand how you can call yourself a New Ager and harbor so much anger? Completely hypocritical, as is most of the right… New Age = Love

It’s not hypocritical at all, and I’m sorry you feel that way.

New Age belief does not encourage or require that I turn off my brain or reason…and reason has a way of getting outraged when confronted with policies and actions that hurt others–you see it in the actions of Christ whipping the money changers, of Krishna telling Arjuna to slaughter his unjust relatives, in Lao Tzu talking about war needing to be conducted with the aim of peace, and in the actions and words of numerous other saints and enlightened beings in religions all over the world.

Yes New Age belief does believe in unqualified love of the soul…but not of the actions of the ego which hurts that soul. Those actions and the ideas that create them must be challenged both in ones own soul, one’s mind, and outside in the physical worlds. I cannot love the soul, and support the left which hinders the growth of the soul. And I cannot say obsequious appearance of concern for someone in the transitory moment is love, even thought the left tries to say it is. Love is caring for the true nature of the person, which is the soul and the soul’s journey to enlightenment.

May I ask you what you would consider “the softer side of Conservatism?” because is seems like all that term means is “a conservative who is willing to give in on any and every point, sacrifice any value, and capitulate on any policy just so liberals like you can be happy.”

If you’re repeating the liberal line about social conservatism, you’ll find none of that here. Social conservatism is simply liberal desire to control others by another name. As for my unwavering defense of capitalism and liberty, which parallel the New Age belief in free will, my support of charity over welfare, which parallel’s the New Age belief in spiritual growth…any moving from these points (other than in terms of practical compromise) to appear “softer” is to give into the manifestations of the ego in the physical world. I can’t be true to my beliefs in the New Age and not support them, defend them, and advocate for them. Yes I’m a little overzealous, (if you’re a New Ager you know it’s a habit of Indigoes to be passionate in the extreme)…but is there anything wrong in zeal for what is right and true?

Love is not opposed to reason, love and reason go hand in hand

But I would like to challenge your comment of “Completely hypocritical, as is most of the right…”
New Age belief believes in the free will. To support the leftist belief in government over the individual, entitlement over personal charity, control over choice…that would be hypocritical to support.
New Age belief believes that life is spiritual journey of learning. To support the left’s call for over-regulation that seeks to keep people from making mistakes takes away the ability to learn…that would be hypocritical of me to support.
New Age believes that every soul must make it to enlightenment on its own…thus the left’s call to force equality holds back individuals, and thus retards the day when all will make it to enlightenment…that would be hypocritical of me to support.
New Age belief believes in the quality of life, not the quantity…the left’s concern with income redistribution and entitlements of physical things places the focus on life on the wrong thing…that would be hypocritical of me to support.

In fact on every central tenet of New Age belief I can think of, New Age belief matched up with conservative economics and conservative foreign policy.

Almost every point of the left in economic and foreign policy is opposed the principles of New Age belief. And every belief of the left on social policy takes the correct idea to an illogical extreme. (I disagree with the social conservatism…but if you actually read a bit of my blog you would see that there are more than enough articles opposing that).

Is the right perfect. Nope. But it supports the individual. It supports choice and freedom and liberty. It supports my ability to grown and learn and develop. These are the bedrock principles of New Age belief as I understand them.

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