Category Archives: Purpose of Life

The Core Values of True Conservative Belief

“We ought not to listen to those who exhort us, because we are human, to think of human things.…We ought rather to take on immortality as much as possible, and do all that we can to live in accordance with the highest element within us; for even if its bulk is small, in its power and value it far exceeds everything.” — Aristotle

Knowledge of Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do. – St. Thomas Aquinas, Two Precepts of Charity.

So I have been looking for the core of conservative belief lately.  What is conservative, what isn’t.

Why is this even an important question?  Well because the conservative movement is overly obsessed with the idea of what a true conservative is (it doesn’t help when your main opposition is a bunch of blind followers in the Democrat party who will kneel before anyone who promises them more shit, and libertarians* who will promise them pot).  Paeloconservatives.  Neoconservatives.  Fiscal conservatives.  Social Conservatives.  Compassionate Conservatives.  (Hint I consider only two of these terms not be contradictions).  It’s a wide range.

And there is no big help when looking to intellectuals.  Sure there is Russell Kirk’s famous list of highly dense academic speak, I even used it in Republicans and Reincarnation, but over the course of his career he kept changing the last few points, making it more and more isolationist, and it’s so complicated as to be useless.

The Wizard's Rules Sword of Truth

Meanwhile, while I love Goodkind’s eleven wizard’s rules, and think them an excellent companion to Aristotelian philosophy, they’re not all that specific.

Then of course you could name certain policies…but that doesn’t work because what is conservative today isn’t conservative tomorrow.  Facts of reality change, priorities get shifted…for instance every conservative needs to be a fiscal conservative, however one can still be a conservative and willing to make a deal to that would raise deficit spending when a more important goal is present, say, toppling an evil empire.  And real conservatives, love the nature of America to take pieces of every culture and incorporate them into the melting pot of this nation…but right now reality and sanity dictate we need to concentrate on border control and being a little more picky about who gets in.

So the problem I’ve had for nearly a year is to find something that is accessible, adaptable, and always accurate in describing the core beliefs of conservatism.  And I just realized it was so bluntly obvious that I didn’t see it (but then again I haven’t seen anyone else talk about it all this time either)..I’ve even stated it, it’s just always been implied.

What are the core values of conservatism that remain the core values at any time any place any situation? The thing that binds Aristotle to Cicero to Aquinas to Locke to Burke to Smith to Adams to Goldwater to Reagan?

The Four Cardinal Virtues and the Three Theological Virtues.

Four Cardinal Virtues
Temperance, Prudence, Fortitude, Justice

Prudence

Temperance

Fortitude

Justice

Faith
Hope

Love

The first four come from Aristotle, the last three from Paul (although I would argue they are implicit in Aristotle if you read all of his works) and they are the basis for the most perfect system of ethics ever created.

Think about it.   Liberals only care about results, damn what rights or means you have to violate to create your Utopia (and that’s even before you consider they lack the follow through to do anything); the crazier members of the Libertarian party only care about means and an absolutist idea of right, to hell if you need some minor infringement to make a society properly function or to secure the vast majority of your rights.  Only the virtue based ethics of Aristotle deal in the reality of needing to consider ends and means.  And this refusal to look at only ends or means is one of the first reasons why the virtue ethics are inherently conservative—conservatives by nature see the whole.

Now let’s look at the virtues themselves.

Yes, Aristotle listed a lot of other virtues,

Sense of Shame

Pride

Wit

Proper Ambition

Truthfulness

Righteous Indignation

Generosity

Friendliness

Magnificence

Good Temper

But all of these are natural extensions of the other seven.  So let’s go over them and show why they are at the heart of conservatism.

In the order which most highlights the political aspects.

Cardinal Virtues
Justice.  Conservatives believe in the concept of Justice, that people should be rewarded and/or punished by what they deserve.  Merit.  Earning.  The basis of meritocracy of free market capitalism.  This is of course opposed to the liberal obsession with fair. It’s not fair.  Things should be fair.  Life’s not fair.  And of course whereas Justice requires the equality of opportunity and equality before the law, liberals want the equality of fairness where everyone has equal results.

Prudence.  While a highly complex concept that the word prudence doesn’t quite convey the complexity for the classical concept, it might be best defined as the knowledge of what should be valued.  With Prudence comes the understanding that the only truly valuable thing is Happiness (again I’m using the classical definition of a life lived well) and to value all the subordinate good that are required for Happiness.  This includes liberty, because Happiness cannot be achieved without free will, actual achievement.  Liberalism values material things and sees no higher point to life other than living, social conservatives only value society and some perverted view of God and not the individual or their happiness

Temperance.  Often mistaken for moderation, Temperance is taking the knowledge of what to value from Prudence, and deciding how much you should value it, at what time, in what place and in what manner.  In very simple terms this is the pragmatism of what works so clearly Keynesian economic and the libertarian desire to wipe everything out in one fell swoop without letting society adjust are right out.

Fortitude.  Again often misunderstood to just be courage, it is more tied into the previous three virtues as the will to do what you know to be right.  This throws out RINOs who stand for nothing, and worst of all the politically apathetic who seem to feel that there is no value in anything and nothing worth fighting for.

For purposes here, I am going to take Faith and Hope together because this is the primary difference between paleo and neoconservatives.  Paleoconservatives with their isolationist ways at their core are only looking out for themselves (clearly also lacking in that last virtue) but this is also because they do not have any faith in humanity or hope in the inevitability that republicanism and capitalism will spread to everyone.

Love, the last of the theological virtues and what must be required for all stable society. It is the belief that other humans have value and worth, and must be respected and helped when possible. This is actually the basis for capitalism, democratic-republics, friendship and all progress.  The belief that human beings are worth it (it’s a belief you don’t find in many political beliefs).

I have no doubt that I will come back to this theme over and over…but it has become clear to me that one or all of these virtues is missing in every political philosophy other than true conservatism.

(This will be the first post in an ongoing series on these virtues.)

*Not that all libertarians are this bad, but you have to admit there is a disturbing high number of single issue voters in your party…and their single issue is one that is really dumb. Of course Republicans have social conservatives who are just as stupid.

**I’m just going to gloss over these for now, don’t worry I’ll eventually have numerous blogs dedicated to this now that I’ve figured this out.

 

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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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Bi Weekly Meditation: Thou art God

 

 

So, for some reason (I think fear) I’m seeing a rise in the religiously zealous (and I meant that in the most insulting form of zealotry).  I am seeing far more people claim such preposterous things such as “True humility is inspired by a knowledge that we are less than God, and will always remain so.”  Yeah some psycho wack-job felt the need to tell me that.  First off this is just stupid because true humility comes from acknowledging not only your strengths and potential but that of everyone around you, it recognizes that you are not necessarily better than others, but that you are worthy of pride, hence the phrase “Don’t be so humble, you’re not that great.”  To just say that you are inferior isn’t humility, it’s self-loathing.

 

Second of all is this idiotic concept that we are less than God.  Why would a perfect being create anything that wasn’t perfect?  Why would a being of love create something only to worship it?  Why would an all knowing being create something that could only sin and make mistakes?  Unlike some people, I don’t believe God is stupid or psychotic, nor does he bear any of the personality disorders we see in people.  God would have no reason to create something inferior to himself. Just because we’re caught in the bad dream that is this world, doesn’t mean that in reality we are inferior to our creator.  If we were, God would be the worst parent in existence because it would mean he intentionally wanted his children to be inferior to him.  A true/good parent only loves and wishes the best for their children and only want to be loved and respected back from their children.  Only a sick person would want worship from anyone.

Creation of Adam

To believe you are inferior to God means you believe he couldn’t or wouldn’t create something perfect…which kind of violates the very concept of God.

“You have not only been fully created, but have also been created perfect.” –A Course in Miracles, Text, Chapter 2, I:1:3

 

You, your soul, are a creation of God, it is perfect, and it is divine. There are only three belief systems that fully deny this divinity. Atheism, Islam (except for the Sufi’s), and close-minded Christianity which doesn’t know how to properly read their own book.  (And remind me of all the problems those belief systems cause?)

 

Don’t believe me?

 

Let’s look at some of the texts throughout the world.

 

“An eternal part of Myself [God], manifesting as a living soul in the world of being”  Bhagavad Gita 15:7

“It is God, and God alone, who has encased Himself as the soul in the many human beings He has created.”—Paramahansa Yogananda, God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita

Lesson 35 from the Workbook for Student of A Course in Miracles

My mind is part of God’s.  I am very holy.

 

Even the Buddhists who are agnostic as to the nature of the soul and God, and believe that every living thing has a soul, still recognize the special place the human soul has in creation as the most perfect opportunity to reach enlightenment.

 

Imagine a wide ocean with a golden yoke adrift upon it. In the depths of ocean swims a single blind turtle, who surfaces for air once every hundred years. How rare would it be for the turtle to surface with its head through the hole in the yoke? The Buddha said that attaining a precious human rebirth is rarer than that.—The Dalai Lama The Way to Freedom 

 

And of course the central line in the Bible that shows this point:

 

“God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him” Gen 1:27 (New American Bible)

 

Did you think this was in reference to your physical appearance?  That God is a biped that looks like a highly evolved chimp?  No it’s in reference to your soul, that the soul of a human being is something divine and perfect.  (Even more so for Christians for whom Christ, who is the image of God, (2 Corinthians 4:4) thus connecting the image of God which has already been connected to all humans, but to Christ, and what made Christ special).

 

I could go on, but I’m sure you get the point.  Every sane religion is based on the idea that the human soul is divine, every religious belief that is at the heart of suffering and misery denies this basic truth.

 

We are made in the image of God, we are a part of God, and we are divine.  We just have forgotten that.

 

Why do I bring this all up as this week’s mediation?

 

Because it is falling for this lie of the ego that we are inferior, that we are not good enough, that nothing we can do will ever be good enough, that more than anything keeps people held back.  It is a belief that engenders self-loathing, because if you are imperfect what possible reason could there be for God in his perfection to love you, and if God can’t, who can?   It is a belief that engenders fear, because if you are not divine then you have no control over your life and your free will amounts to nothing. It is a belief that engenders hatred, defeat, hopelessness and everything that is not God.  And if you think that I’m taking these little ideas to an illogical extreme, remember that your ego wants you to take them to an illogical extreme because when you realize you are God and not your ego, you ego will cease to be and you will at once be one with God.  And your ego will fight violently to protect the illusion of its existence.

 

I bring it up, as I have brought it up in various other forms, because the belief that you can with God’s help and the help of beings who are already enlightened (the true meaning of “No one can come to the Father except through me” isn’t a call that everyone should be a Christian, it’s statement that only through enlightenment—Christ-consciousness as some would call it—does one become one with God again) once again regain the self-knowledge of your divinity and return you to your place of perfection as the Son of God.

 

So for this week every chance you have, remind yourself that you are the Son of God.  You are perfect.  You are divine.

 

Or you can pull from this list of mantras from A Course in Miracles:

God is in everything I see because God is in my mind

My mind is a part of God’s.  I am very holy

My holiness blesses the world.

My holiness is my salvation.

God is my Source.  I cannot see apart from Him.

I am the light of the world.

Love created me like itself.

I am entitled to miracles.

I am as God created me.

I am one Self, united with my Creator.

Our Deepest Fear

Yes, theoretically this could give rise to arrogance and pompousness…but you know what, I’m not seeing that as being the biggest problem in the world right now. Let’s deal with the problem at hand.

 

But if you really feel yourself drifting to the arrogance repeat this one from the Course:

 

Forgiveness is the function of the light of the world.  Let me not forget my function.

 

That should bring you back to balance.

 

Who are you?  What do you believe in?

Every symbol on here is a belief in the divinity of the soul.  It is silly to think they’re all wrong.

 

 

 

Do you grok?

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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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The Weekly Meditation: Setting Goals For the New Year

So the new year is upon us.  I don’t know about you but 2012 is not going down as the best year in my life…and I wish it will go down as the worst year of my life (but I feel certain tyrants will put the next four in the running).

That aside, let’s look to the new year.

About now is when people start thinking about making New Year’s Resolutions.  This is usually a mistake that turns into a miserable failure.  Usually, I think, for two reasons. The first is that people make these grand resolutions and then when they don’t get done in the first couple of week people just give up. The second problem, I think because people tend to focus on only one aspect, thinking that improving one thing about themselves is all they need to worry about, when in reality were a multifaceted beings, and each part is connected to all other parts.  To just work on one small thing without adjusting all the parts to work in harmony will often fail.

 

So I’m going to propose for this week is in three parts the first is to meditate on areas of your life where you can improve for each of the seven chakras (to save space I’m not going to go over what each is unless someone asks).  If seven goals seems like too much, I might look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (which is deeply connected to the chakras) and look for 5 things you can improve on–look for 5 ways you can meet the 5 different categories of needs*.  The goal should be looking for multiple ways to make yourself a better person, a person you want to be, a person who is closer to God–way that in terms of habits, your physical nature, your emotions, your thoughts and beliefs are all better.

 

Chakra

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

 

After you have your goals in mind, goals that look to you as a whole person, I would recommend taking time to break that goal into 4-10 steps.

Write these goals and these steps out…post them in your house, they’re going to be your friends for the whole year. Bare minimum that’s 20 intermediate goals.  You will see progress on that no matter what if you put even a modicum of effort into this, which means there will be less chance of giving up due to not seeing results.

Finally, if this part doesn’t take all week at the end of the week (and probably at least once a week for the whole year) you should sit and envision yourself at the end of the having met every goal.  See the person who you have become and believe that it will be a fact.  Even if you don’t believe in the Law of Attraction and that thought creates reality, the psychological fact is that this will help reinforce your habits and desire to meet your goal.

Now matter what this will help you in your path of self improvement, which is what life is supposed to be about because that’s what leads to Happiness.

 

 

 

 

* Yes I know it’s a hierarchy and one should meet certain needs before others…but the fact of the matter even if we’re meeting needs most of us probably have a flaw or two in how we’re meeting them and can improve (we’re only human after all)…and by improving the foundation it makes meeting other needs easier.  Also by look to needs we haven’t met we can help provide ourselves the needed motivation to get past problems that involve us meeting our current needs.

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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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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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Weekly Meditation: Spirit, Body, & Mind

Sorry about not having a meditation this last week. Work has been a little more chaotic than usual and here’s a basic rule of keeping your energy levels at a healthy level: learn when to say no. This is one of those things I am horrible about, I’m an obsessive compulsive workaholic…but I actually learned to say no to writing a mediation when I was too tired to say what I wanted to in any semi-articulate fashion.

So over the last few weeks we have covered how to recover and grow energy in your soul and how to make sure your body is in harmony with the physical world. Today I’m going to go over the last part of keeping your mind up. This is important because if your don’t keep your body and mind up then your soul is stuck in a body (controlling it through your brain) when both don’t work in harmony (think of putting a NASCAR driver in a Yugo with the break lines cut…it doesn’t matter how focused your soul is if everything it has to work with isn’t working).

Balance between mind, body, and soul is hard…but it’s something we should strive for.

So how to keep your mind working in tune with your soul? It might be my bias as an English teacher, but I recommend reading.

Like the last few weeks this isn’t really a just this week kind of meditation, it’s more of a continuous habit.

There are three kinds of reading and I recommend them all*.

The first is for entertainment. We usually have this down if we’re reading, but if you’re weird like me you sometimes have to remember to put down the philosophic tomes and actually read something for fun.

The second is philosophy. This is reading heavier nonfiction books (not just for information but to question and think). (Various logic games, puzzle and riddles can also work out this logic side of the mind).

The third and final way is through art. At a spiritual level, life is about seeing patterns in the world around us and deducing the lessons that life is trying to teach us through these repeated events. Often we don’t see the patterns. We don’t see that being confronted over and over again with an overbearing boss is really a call to stand up. We don’t see that loss is really life handing us opportunity. Or that painful situations are actually places to learn. Life is trying to teach us the lessons we need to reach enlightenment, sometimes with all the subtly of an Ayn Rand speech, and yet we still miss those lessons. That is where art comes in. The stripping away of levels in art to find the deeper meanings, and the more obscured themes is the best training I know of for learning to see the patterns within life itself. (Aside of course from meditation and reflection, but as to an external action reading of art does this better than anything I’m aware of…please let me know if you know of a something better). Poetry, literature, drama at their highest levels they teach us to think in our most spiritual ways.

Now I would recommend taking time each week for a little of all of these. A mystery novel, some Thomas Sowell, and maybe a little Tennyson (the combinations are endless). Granted it would be nice to have works that balance all three parts but aside from Shakespeare (and even he doesn’t always perfectly balance, not to mention you have to know a lot about the times and the language to get everything you want out of it) I know of few works that balance even two of these points well…let alone all three.

And if you take time to work on all three aspect each week, in conjunction with paying attention to being in harmony with the physical world and your soul, I believe you will find greater balance in your life and get more out of all these other meditations.

*Actually 4, when you count reading for information, but honestly you’re reading a blog about politics and religion, I think you may have staying informed roughly down.

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Weekly Meditation: Justifiably Believe in Yourself

“Don’t believe the things

you tell yourself so late at night

You are your own worst enemy,

You’ll never win the fight.”—Ingrid Michaelson, “Parachute”

“You cannot believe in God until you believe in yourself.” –Swami Vivekananda

“The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen.”–Frank Lloyd Wright

“If ye have faith…nothing shall be impossible unto you.” (Matthew 17:20)

“For this individual soul is incapable of being cut; and insoluble, and can be neither burned nor dried. This soul is eternal, constant, omnipresent, unchangeable, immovable and everlasting.”—Bhagavad-Gita Chapter II verse 24

For those of you read this blog a lot you know that I have a particularly annoying troll.   He doesn’t seem to know very much, but is constantly offended by the fact that I am very confident in my beliefs.

His logic seems to be based on a single quote from a truly hackish pseudo-philosopher he follows religiously:

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always certain of themselves and wiser people so full of doubts.”—Bertrand Russell

My little troll even goes as far to quote on a study that won an Ig Noble award that wasted research time to find out the obvious point that people who are inept at their jobs are often convinced they do a great job, to prove his point.

Oh my silly little troll…

But Russell is an idiot, for numerous reasons, but in this case for not acknowledging that history is filled with people who were very intelligent who were certain of their beliefs and who ignored the doubts of others and themselves and who went on to achieve greatness and often improve the world.  I would say that a general rule of common sense is that if you can easily list off 50-100 counter examples without even thinking to a statement it probably shouldn’t be regarded as gospel truth.  And just because you find a study that says the inept are often over confident, it does not follow that everyone who is confident is inept (but you would have to know something about logic to know that).

The fact of the matter is not that the problem of the modern world is that the ignorant are overconfident, it’s that they’re not self reflective.  The problem is not only are the intelligent full of doubt but that doubt in and of itself has become a virtue.  Why?  Well this is the weekly meditation blog so I’m going to give you a spiritual answer:  The Ego.

That mis-created part of yourself that keeps you from knowing that you are part of God, that you are perfect, that you are not powerless and able to control your own life.

And as always the ego plays two separate games, offers you two options that are equally foolish.  To those who do not want to be self reflective it rewards them by telling them they’re right for not being self reflective—it makes you over confident and uses that overconfidence to keep you from improving.  Or if you choose self reflection it brings doubt to everything, it tries to make it appear as if anything you do, anything you say, anything you believe in must be wrong…and if you’re so terrible at knowing anything so must everyone else be incapable of knowing anything (it is this side that my silly little troll seems to live in constantly).

And while my troll seems utterly incapable of learning in this lifetime, I would not begin to think everyone is so far gone into listening to the lies of their ego.

You are put on this planet to accomplish,  learn, and the lack of self-reflection and doubts hinder your assignment and improvement.

So how do we counter this?

The first is through self reflection.  Complacency and habitual ignorance are not places to be. You must question everything you believe.  Ask why you believe it.  Ask if you have proof and if that proof justifies what you believe.

The second is not giving into doubt.  That kind of constant questioning can lead to frustration and hopelessness.  Don’t give into it.  Know that you are capable of finding the answer; that your mind and soul are in the end infinitely knowledgeable.  And you have to believe that the answer you find is the right one, be open to new evidence or a new way of looking at things, but you must proceed every day not giving into the paralysis of doubt…for in that way madness lies.  Sometimes, obviously you’ll have to make choices on insufficient evidence with insufficient time to decide, but you have to go on the best information you have at the time and trust that you made the best choice you could at the time.

Honest self-reflection and questioning of your beliefs are not the same as doubt.  Doubt is the belief that you cannot know.  Self-reflection is merely admitting that while you can know, you’re human and may be wrong…but you should never assume you’re wrong unless you have not taken time to think about what you believe and have not had evidence to the contrary considered.

Now really this is more a life-long habit to adopt, repeat, and refine.  It’s going to take more time than a week’s mantra…but a meditation on it is a good start.

So for this week I suggest two meditations.

The first one in the morning is a mantra:

I will reflect on my beliefs and my choices before I act.  I will not doubt my decisions.  I will reflect again when I have a chance and see if I made errors or mistakes, and I will not make them again.

The second is at the end of the day to reflect on your thoughts and decisions again.  To reflect on their outcomes and where you were right and where you were wrong.  Congratulate yourself for where you were right and make a note not to repeat the same mistake where you’re wrong.

This will at least help build a habit that will be a bulwark against the ego’s doubts.

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Weekly Meditation: Live for yourself

A few weeks ago I saw the following on twitter:

And I realized that this was the perfect quote for a meditation.

We often worry too much about others.  I know society has made us think such a thought is anathema, but it isn’t.  Rational interest is not some evil, it is the middle ground we should all seek.  It is place between the two evils of hedonism (the denial of the rights, needs, and concern of others) and altruism (the denial of the rights, needs, and concern of self).  Rather it is the middle ground of rational self interest that say you should “love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

So this week you should consider yourself first.  Do what you want and don’t worry about if it annoys others.  Now don’t go out of your way to piss people off (that would still be letting them dictate your life, although with a slight amount of more pettiness*), just act like you would if they weren’t there.  Now if someone says that what you are doing is annoying them, then the polite thing is to reach a compromise…but your wants, your needs, your desires should be respected.  Do what you want to do.

The goal of life is to reach Happiness and Enlightenment and no one should harm you in your pursuit of those goal.  Those two goals should be your first concern (although you make sure you’re not harming anyone else on that trip).

Remember you’re a child of God, you have the right to do whatever you want as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else.

*Now if you do what you want, like say, write blogs about what you believe politically, and get enjoyment out of watching people who disagree with you get infuriated, bully for you.  But it should first and foremost be because you enjoy the writing and expression of ideas…not just solely to piss people off…unless you to make a larger argument and win people to your side is to show how foolishly your opposition reacts, but again your first purpose is to win the argument not to piss them off as an end itself.

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The Conservative New Ager and The Snark Who Hunts Back Review The Dark Knight Rises: A Tale of Heroes, Politics and Death

This last week we (The Snark Who Hunts Back and The Conservative New Ager) went to go see The Dark Knight Rises together for the second time (the first being a trilogy marathon on opening night). We delayed writing a blog then because it became obvious there was so much we would have to see it again to fully appreciate the depth…and even on a second viewing we realized there is more than a single blog here.

But let’s get the overture out of the way. The final piece of this spectacular trilogy, like almost all of director Christopher Nolan’s recent work is thematically based off a work of literature…A Tale of Two Cities, in the case of The Dark Knight Rises. And while it might be hard to find the undercurrents of Othello in The Dark Knight, Faust in The Prestige, or Zorro in Batman Begins (which for symmetry should be renamed The Dark Knight Begins).

But it’s not just literary, it’s political…or at least it appears to be. The Dark Knight seemed pretty obviously a defense of the War on Terror, and The Dark Knight Rises seems a pretty striking assault on the morals of leftist economics. Now Nolan claims that his works aren’t political (a common defense by those who want to survive in a hostile political environment) and Occupy Wall Street thugs think they’re really smart in pointing out that the movie was written before OWS so it can’t be about them (this poor argument ignores that their rhetoric of evil has been spouted by the left quite vehemently in the last few years and also they clearly are so ignorant of the history of their own ideas that they don’t know their filth was spouted by demagogues in ancient Athens, and shown to be stupid then…so just because Nolan didn’t know about OWS doesn’t mean he wasn’t responding to the evil)…and even if Nolan is telling the truth that he didn’t intend it to a political statement (which I doubt) it works too well as one not to make some comments about the philosophy of the work.

Now ignoring the message of the trilogy taken as a whole (that’s another blog for another time) we think there are three main philosophical statements to this film: The nature of heroism, the politics of progressivism, envy and “social justice”, and the fear of death.

The Nature of the Hero

“A hero can be anyone. Even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat over a little boy’s shoulder to let him know the world hadn’t ended.”

One of the more unbelievable complaints I’ve heard about The Dark Knight Rises was that it made it look like the common man can’t do anything for themselves, that they need the rich to save them. Never mind the fact that, by the end, Bruce Wayne barely had a cent to his name or that his money certainly didn’t help him climb out of the pit. We would just want to know if the person who made the complaint was even watching the same movie that we saw with our friends.

Not long after Bruce Wayne loses all his money, due to Bane’s attack on the stock exchange, he has a conversation with John Blake, a police officer who knows Wayne’s identity as Batman. Wayne tells Blake that the whole point of Batman was that he could be anyone, Batman was meant to be an inspiration to the people of Gotham, something that is repeated in both of the previous movies.

In Batman Begins Bruce Wayne tell Alfred:

“People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy. And I can’t do that as Bruce Wayne. As a man I’m just flesh and blood, I can be ignored, destroyed. But a symbol….as a symbol I can be incorruptible, everlasting…..”

In The Dark Knight, the Joker asks the fake Batman, Brian what batman means to him. Brian answers “He’s a symbol … that we don’t have to be afraid of scum like you”. And the whole point of Batman, as we see come to fruition at the beginning of The Dark Knight Rises, was not to create a legion of caped crusaders, but an army of men like Harvey Dent (before his psychotic break) and Jim Gordon—a group of people willing to stand up for what is right.

But we digress. The point is what made the average person a hero in The Dark Knight Rises.

At no point did John Blake, Commissioner Gordon, or the other members of the resistance, sit down and go ‘well, I’m just a common person, I’m just going to wait for the government or Batman to come save us’ (except for the character of Foley, who was rightly called out for being a coward). They worked tirelessly to find a way out on their own, they realized they were on their own the moment Bane took over the city and began to look for ways to free the city’s police force from the sewers.

When Batman did come back, in an a miraculous 11th hour miracle, they didn’t wait for him to clean up the mess. The police banded together and marched on Bane’s army, many of them dying in the fighting to save their city.

Selina Kyle, despite telling Batman that she was leaving the city as soon as she destroyed the debris blocking the tunnel, turned around and risked her life to fight for the city and to save Batman’s life.

Lucius Fox risked death and drowning , trying to find a way to stop the nuclear bomb from detonating.

Even Ra’s al Ghul (don’t you hate it when you agree with the words, if not the actions, of a villain?) says, during Bruce’s training, “The training is nothing! The will is everything! The will to act.”

The heroes who kept Gotham alive while Batman fought his way out of the pit

Every one of these people, training or no, had the will to act. They were all willing to give everything for their city, for their freedom. What could possibly be more heroic than that?

Fancy toys, nice cars, and a cool suit will only get you so far if you don’t have the will to do what is necessary, even when what is necessary may end your life.

Heroism isn’t about money, toys, or good looks; it’s a state of mind and living life, not with no fear of death, but with a willingness to die to defend others and defend your beliefs.

You may not be a superhero, but anyone can be a hero. That’s what The Dark Knight Rises shows us about heroism.

Politics, Socialism and evils of envy

“Repression is the only lasting philosophy. The dark deference of fear and slavery, my friend, will keep the dogs obedient to the whip, as long as this roof shuts out the sky.'”—A Tale of Two Cities*

You would have to have been pretty dense not to get that this movie was thematically inspired by A Tale of Two Cities. Even Dickens, for all of his sickeningly naïve progressive rhetoric, had an inkling of the evil of the French Revolution. A quick review of history if it’s been too long since that high school history class. Louis XVI in response to economic woes and civil unrest had given the public everything they wanted: an assembly, power of due process of law, and abdicated much of the absolute power of the monarchy. And while many where happy with these changes, the ignorant rabble who were open to the rhetoric of the most extreme thought it wasn’t enough. They stormed the Bastille, arrested Louis and his wife (who if you actually study history was not the vapid slut a layman’s understand of history tries to depict her as), and placed power in the hands of radicals like Robespierre and Marat. The Terror, Madam Guillotine, rivers of blood, atrocities on a scale that wouldn’t be seen again in France until the Nazi’s allowed the French to revel in their anti-Semitism. (A similar pattern would be seen when the Russians replaced the Tsar with a democratic government…but soon got rid of that in favor of a psychotically evil government).

She learned to hate her “ideal” world quickly enough.

This history lesson is important because this is the same pattern Nolan shows in Gotham. For all of it’s corruption in the first two films, Gotham at the beginning of The Dark Knight Rises was a city that had everything it wanted: Clean streets, an efficient police force (a city of 12 million with only 3,000 uniformed officers means an obscenely low crime rate), a healthy economy (the city could afford multiple simultaneous construction projects by Dagget, that means an incredibly good tax base, ergo strong economy…and football stadiums aren’t packed to the brim with every last seat filled during hard times), a mayor who has survived for over 8 years in office (usually a sign of prosperity) Even Selina Kyle’s words of decrying inequality ring hollow, he “old town” (suggestive of the gutter) apartment is hardly a shabby SRO or the slum heap of “the narrows” from the first film—and while in Batman Begins criminals could carry on with their nefarious dealings out in the open, or hide them in the vast slums, this is a Gotham where there are so few places to hide your activities you literally have skulk in the sewers (everywhere else is too bright and too well off to hide such activities)…Like the French they had everything they had asked for. And, like France, it took only a little fear and few mad men to stir the lowest rungs of society and bring about anarchy.
There are of course differences between A Tale of Two Cities and the Revolution it describes and the events of The Dark Knight Rises. The Bastille was stormed not to free prisoners (there were hardly any left in the Bastille by the time of the Revolution) but to gain weapons to take over the city. And even if you buy the myth of the Storming of the Bastille, the prisoners released from the Bastille were primarily political prisoners…not hardened thugs of organized crime. The fact that the Dent Law in The Dark Knight Rises was passed because there was a martyr to push through the law, does not change the fact that it, like all three-strikes laws and mandatory sentencing laws, are a particular point of hatred for the progressive who think it’s unfair that people who do evil and horrific things should, heaven forbid, be locked up where they can’t do any harm. But be it the Bastille and the release of a mere seven political prisoners or the opening of Blackgate Prison and letting a host of violent criminals go free, the result was ironically the same: The Terror.

The terror: a system where justice and trials are a mockery and the innocent are held as guilty for crimes they never committed…and where there is only one punishment: death. The terror, a system that provides so much that it makes everyone so equal that they are all starving and tearing at each other for daily sustenance (or like the Soviet Union or Gotham you could have food imported from the capitalistic society because you can’t produce any on your own). The terror: the utopia every half brained progressive idealist praises, only to lead to their own downfall.

In the real French Revolution the villain was Robespierre who used high rhetoric to justify rank thugery as a progressive march to fraternity and equality. In A Tale of Two Cities the villain was Madame De Farge, a woman so hell bent on avenging her family’s murders that she will see the whole world burn to get her pound of flesh. Nolan gives us both villains in the form of Bane and Talia al Ghul. Which of course leads us into the villainy of their perverse understanding of economics.

Let me spout the politics of envy and class warfare knowing it will only lead to your eventual destruction!

Before we get into showing how Nolan destroys the ideals of progressivism by showing what it brings, let’s dismiss one semi-intelligent objection: Bane and Talia don’t believe in progressivism, they’re trying to show how it is a failed system and how people must reject it. That’s not entirely an incorrect point…but what you need to also realize is that just because the villains may be a tool they don’t really believe in doesn’t mean that it isn’t showing the flaws of progressivism…and that just because they don’t believe in progressivism doesn’t mean they’re capitalist. Point in fact, the entire League of Shadows from Ra’s Al Ghul’s first words to Talia’s last is a world view based on feudalism and cronyism. The League believes it should be the one who decides who shall be successful and who shall fail. Bane says as much when he tells Wayne, “I learned here that there can be no true despair without hope. So, as I terrorize Gotham, I will feed its people hope to poison their souls. I will let them believe they can survive so that you can watch them clamoring over each other to “stay in the sun.” You can watch me torture an entire city and when you have truly understood the depth of your failure, we will fulfill Ra’s al Ghul’s destiny… We will destroy Gotham and then, when it is done and Gotham is ashes, then you have my permission to die.” As we stated above they rule through terror, not reason, not ethics, not law, justice—they dress their words up in the clothes of these higher ideals but their actions show them to be as hollow and lacking in substance on the inside as any scarecrow (especially if said Scarecrow sets himself up as the instrument of justice).

Politically speaking, there is much that is applicable to our current political situation in our country. Now, to be fair, I don’t believe that Christopher Nolan’s intent was to create a modern political allegory. This movie was written and being filmed long before the Occupy Wall Street movement, which shares many of the villains sentiments, began.

During the first few weeks of the Occupy movement we both remember having many conversations about the similarities between that movement and the early days of the French Revolution. Which is why the connection between The Dark Knight Rises and OWS comes so easily.

The views of Occupy Wall Street were shown almost perfectly in Bane’s and Catwoman’s words, as well as the actions of the people who jump at the chance to drag the rich out and punish them for their success.

Bane’s entire speech outside of Black Gate Prison is so reminiscent of something from a ‘mic check’ at Occupy Wall Street

“We take power from the corrupt, who, for generations, have kept you down with myths of…opportunity and we give it back to you, the people. Gotham is yours, none shall interfere, do as you please. We’ll start by storming Black Gate and freeing the oppressed…an army will be raised, the powerful will be ripped from their decadence and cast out into the cold where we all have endured, courts will be convened, spoils will be enjoyed…”

-Bane (apologies for mistakes, I was working from a VERY scratchy audio clip)

and for those of you who remember the scenes that accompanied the final lines of that speech, the violence is so similar to the rioting at Occupy Oakland that is was almost frightening, especially when you realize that this movie was written months before any of that every happened.

Selina Kyle (Catwoman) starts out with the same exact rhetoric as many an Occupy Wall Street supporter. In a conversation with Bruce Wayne she says “You think this is gonna last? There’s a storm coming Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches. ‘Cause when it hits, you’re all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large, and leave so little for the rest of us.”

Though after her betrayal of Batman she appears to change her tone in a way that OWS never did. Upon entering a home that had been ransacked after Bane’s Black Gate speech she comments on the fact that ‘this used to be someone’s home’ when she looks at a smashed family photo. Her friend says ‘now it’s everyone’s home.’ Kyle, unlike just about everyone in OWS who only has to look to the failure of the Soviet Union, the collapse of Greece or the repression of China and North Korea to know what a failed system socialism, when she saw what her ideals brought about very quickly had no problem seeing their evil and abandoning them.

The Dark Knight Rises shows what happens when give us capitalisms for anarchy or socialism. You have perversion of justice. You have to survive on the handouts and scraps provided to you. There is no growth. No prosperity. No civilization. Only blood and the terror.

Now on to a slightly more hilarious turn of events.

Shortly before the movie came out the Obama campaign (and liberals in general) noticed something they thought they could use as a brilliant attack against Romney.

Did you know that Romney had a business named Bain Capital?

Bain/Bane…get it?**

One of these guys is someone rich who could easily leave others to fend for themselves but doesn’t…the other is named Bane. Which one reminds you the most of the presidential challengert?

“It has been observed that movies can reflect the national mood,” said Democratic advisor and former Clinton aide Christopher Lehane. “Whether it is spelled Bain and being put out by the Obama campaign or Bane and being out by Hollywood, the narratives are similar: a highly intelligent villain with offshore interests and a past both are seeking to cover up who had a powerful father and is set on pillaging society,” he added.

As the Friday release date has neared, liberal blogs were the first to connect Batman’s toughest foe with Romney’s firm.

– Christopher Lehane (via Washington Examiner)

Yeah, they actually did that.

Hilariously, when Rush Limbaugh dared to point out the name similarities, liberal bloggers thought he was being insane and completely ignored that their side was the one who made the comparison first.

Luckily conservatives had a fellow conservative Chuck Dixon, comic book creator, and coincidentally, the co-creator of the villain Bane, to smack some sense into liberals.

In an interview with ComicBook.com Dixon had this to say.

“The idea that there’s some kind of liberal agenda behind the use of Bane in the new movie is silly…I refuted this within hours of the article in the Washington Examiner suggesting that Bane would be tied to Bain Capital and Mitt Romney appearing. Bane was created by me and Graham Nolan and we are lifelong conservatives and as far from left-wing mouthpieces as you are likely to find in comics…As for his appearance in The Dark Knight Rises, Bane is a force for evil and the destruction of the status quo. He’s far more akin to an Occupy Wall Street type if you’re looking to cast him politically. And if there ever was a Bruce Wayne running for the White House it would have to be Romney.”

-Chuck Dixon (Via ComicBook.com)

Romney is Bruce Wayne? That’s the best pseudo-endorsement I’ve heard all year. If I wasn’t voting for Romney before, I sure am now.

The Fear of Death

Blind Prisoner: You do not fear death. You think this makes you strong. It makes you weak.
Bruce Wayne: Why?
Blind Prisoner: How can you move faster than possible, fight longer than possible without the most powerful impulse of the spirit: the fear of death.
Bruce Wayne: I do fear death. I fear dying in here, while my city burns, and there’s no one there to save it.
Blind Prisoner: Then make the climb.
Bruce Wayne: How?
Blind Prisoner: As the child did. Without the rope. Then fear will find you again.

Now on the Conservative New Ager we have a fairly low opinion of the fear of death. In numerous blogs it has been ridiculed as the foolish, childish, ignorant paralytic it is. However, it must be admitted, that in the rush of these blogs to point out that “Wise men at their end know [death] is right” and that it is nothing to be feared but merely a natural part of life, that the wise also “do not go gentle into that good night.”

Bruce Wayne doesn’t fear death for the first half of the movie, that is true. He is not hindered by the fears that he once was. The problem is that in this attempt to rid himself of fear he went too far and rid himself of the desire for life as well. While the movie only uses the phrase “fear death” it might seem that it is encouraging people to embrace fear. But from context the movie is not telling people to embrace the paralyzing fear of death because it is this fear that encourages the federal government and the people of Gotham to stand ideally by, and the fear that causes Modine’s Foley to hide, while a terrorist takes over the city. Rather, the movie is encouraging a balance—that the proper way is to rid one’s self of the paralyzing fear of death of Wayne did in the first film, but to maintain the love of live, and the appreciation of death and knowledge that each moment could be your last and must be fought for, that comes with this love of life. It is only this appreciation of death, that pushes Wayne to make a jump that he could not otherwise make, because he knows that if he is to live he must push himself—and he cannot push himself without both the knowledge that there is no turning back or without the desire to do something other than seek his own end.

And then of course, as a final thought we can’t forget how wonderfully patriotic this film is. Okay maybe not so much in it showing the President to be a sniveling coward who gives into terrorist demands (patriotic or not that might be an accurate assessment)…or in how cowardly the bureaucracy is when they blow the bridge condemning many to die (again might be an accurate conservative message). But you will notice that the people of Gotham (not the scum the who follow Bain mind you, but the people who are terrorized by them) stand for “The Star Spangled Banner” and the only person shown to not have his hand over his heart is the scummy mayor (who apparently is close to an even scummier Congressmen…again perhaps an accurate assessment of current events). And along with the police it is these people who fight against Bain. And you’ll notice that on the day of the battle even a British director like Nolan knows to show the tattered remains of the flag still flying, still offering hope, and as a symbol that on that day evil will fall. Finally the last words about Gotham, which they say is America’s greatest city, is that it will rise from the ashes of this act of terrorism…you would have to be pretty dense not to see this as a reference to New York, and a testament to how quickly America did pick itself up.

You don’t owe these people anymore. You’ve given them everything.

Not everything. Not Yet.

And the sad fact is that we’ve only scratched the surface of this film…

*On a side note, it should be said that, for all of Dickens’ flaws, A Tale of Two Cities is Dickens’ best work…too bad he stole half the plot from Victor Hugo’s Ninety-Three.

** Oh and if you want to to play the silly let’s compare political figures to fictional ones…I see your Bane/Bain…and raise you…
(Romney Ryan photos thanks to Heather Parsons)
 

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Weekly Meditation: Who am I

So a little late, again, sorry (start of school year chaos).

So a week and a half ago I recommended you go over what you want in life.  Is what you want going to lead to your happiness?  Is it something you have control over? Is it something that only takes a change in attitude to gain?

This week I want you to look at the other question I put to you a few weeks ago:  Who am I?

It’s not an easy question.  Most of us will spend a lifetime trying to answer it.

For me the easiest way to understand who I am is the value and causes I champion.

These question about your self are directly related to the energy of your third chakra.

For me liberty is the all important virtue of the political world.  The lack of it I believe has been the greatest impediment to personal, social, economic, and spiritual growth for the last 6,000 years.   I believe it is a cause worth fighting for, worth dying for, and worth living for.  (The last one there is the really important part).

And from what I can glean about my past lives, this fight has pretty much been the defining issue in most of my lives.*

Not that this is what you personally should use to define your life.  But what is a life if it is not for something?  You have to be working toward something?  What is that you have that’s worth dying and living for?

Another good way I find to define your life is by the virtues you admire and wish to possess.

I’m not going to go through a list of the virtues I admire here, but as any regular reader of this blog probably can figure out, humility is not on my list…but just because it’s not on my list doesn’t necessarily mean it shouldn’t be on yours.  Use what you consider to be virtues not what other people do.  And when you have that list, ask yourself what are you doing to make yourself an exemplar of the virtues you admire?

And finally a good way to look at who you are is by looking at which people you admire and want to be more like.   Emulation has been a time-honored tradition of driving us to be our best and understand who we are from Aristotle’s Ethics to the slightly more trite WWJD.  Now honestly I prefer using fictional characters as the archetype to emulate because real people come with problems.  Either the person you’re emulating has numerous flaws (because they’re human) or they’re a saint.  And when looking for someone to emulate flaws can be a major distraction (especially if it’s someone you’ve idolized for a while only to discover later that they were really screwed up).  And as for saints, the virtues of a saint are not exactly what most people need in life, unless you’re a saint.  It’s why I don’t like the phrase “What would Jesus do?” because the correct answer for 99% of all possible situations is “Perform a miracle and give a sermon”—which fails slightly at being useful advice for most of the situations we might encounter.

Now I like fictional characters because unlike real people it’s easier to know them.  With a real person you either have to know them personally or you don’t understand all the complexities and reasons they had for certain actions (that and in reality very few famous figures in history in the modern world are not hideously screwed up individuals).  But fictional characters, for all their depth and layers, are people you are to able grasp the whole of their being.

Now for me personally I look to Don Quixote and Cyrano de Bergerac as my guiding stars.  Follow your convictions and beliefs, damn the consequences, you’ll be a better person for it.  And I have found this to be very true.  But what works for me may not work for you.

The main point to all of this is do you know who you are and do you know who you want to be?   Because if you don’t how do you know what you really want and how do you know how to act?

Who are you? What do you believe in?

These are questions you should reflect on this week.

*Before you make any comments about that sentence let me say that if you don’t believe in reincarnation, you are so incredibly on the wrong blog.

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Weekly Meditation: Thing to tell yourself…

I was working on a significantly longer meditation today when I saw this…

 

I don’t think I can top that right now.  Tell yourself these things at least 3 times every day this week…or better yet, print it out and put where you work or spend a lot of time.

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A Season of Patriotism

So what makes this worthy of our allegiance?

So it’s June.  A week after Memorial Day and a month before one of my two favorite holidays: Independence Day.  And as with the approach of every Independence Day I am struck by the difference between Independence Day and my other favorite holiday: Christmas…or more accurately the Christmas season.

Christmas gets a whole month to celebrate.  From Black Friday to New Year’s Day people are little happier, a little nicer, a little more willing to let the best in them come out because they want to celebrate.  It’s a whole month of festivity and joy, parties, decoration, music, food, friends, special films that are for that season and that season alone, and yes finally gifts.  A whole season.

The 4th of July gets a day.   Hell even Halloween gets treated better with a whole season.

There is something wrong here.  But, I know someone is about to say, “Christmas (and Chanukah, Solstice, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s) is a religious holiday, directly tied to our relationship to God.”   No really someone actually tried that on me once.  To which I can only respond, “And you don’t see anything of the divine in Independence Day?”

I know liberals, and probably libertarians as well, have a problem with this, but there is something truly special about this nation.

I was for Romney before I heard it him say, but when at an Arizona rally he said [and this is not word for word as I’m going off memory] “Some people believe that our Declaration and Constitution were written by very brilliant men, others believe that they were divinely inspired when they wrote it—I believe it was a bit of both” it was at that moment that all my worries about Romney faded.  This was a man who got it.  He saw that the documents were written by men, albeit brilliant men, but men nonetheless, who were capable of error and thus you could not claim absolute perfection in their

Go on name for me one other time there were as many great minds in one place?

documents…but he also saw that the beliefs and ideas in these documents represented an immeasurable leap forward in human society and that at some level the hand of God was present.  Name for me a time when you would have an Adams, a Jefferson, a Washington, a Franklin all in the same room together.  History provides few men of such insight, intelligence, and character (not that they were perfect, but they were certainly ahead of their time by massive steps); occasionally you get two of them together at the same time; at very special moments you get three together at once…at both the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention you had whole rooms of these men.  Please tell me of another time in history when you had such a grouping (and to see it happen twice in one generation).  To a group of men who believed in ideals of right and true being more important than their personal fortunes (a good portion of the signers of the Declaration went broke, many were tortured all of them suffered for signing that document…not one recanted their signature.)  How do you not see the hand of providence in that?

If more divinely inspired words have been written, I do not know about them.

How do you not see it in:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness— That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Please tell me which passage of the Tanakh, the New Testament, the teaching of Buddha, the Gita, the Tao or any other holy book surpasses that passage in it’s understanding of the relationship between God and man (that we are given free will and liberty by our creator with the expectation that we will use them), that understands the teleology, the purpose, the end of life (to achieve Happiness), and how men should treat one another (not violating the rights of others, but settling up a society to protect them from those that do seek to violate those rights).  The heart of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and politics answered correctly in one sentence.  And you don’t think God had anything to do with that?  Do you see the hand of God in anything?

And then you look at our history.  Time and time again, if Vegas odds makers had existed from the 1750’s to today, you would have bet against the survival of the U.S. over and over again.  Yet somehow we’re still here.  The history of America is often the history of convenient accidents.  Convenient in that reinforcements were mistakenly diverted from helping General Burgoyne at the Battle of Saratoga, letting the Americans win when they most needed a win.  Convenient that when Lee, a general of unquestionable skill, was a week’s march from capturing D.C. he has the 3 dumbest days of his life at a little town in Pennsylvania.  Convenient that all of our carriers were out of harbor on December 6.  To name a few, there are so many others.  You can believe in chance, I don’t.

We make mistakes, and dear God have we made some abhorrent ones.   Liberals love to point out all the evil things we have done, ignoring that at anytime in history, we didn’t even rank in anything but the top third of what the rest of the world was doing at that time.  Oh and I know pointing that out is wrong, because that’s their culture.  Oh that’s right anyone else does something worse than America and it’s racist to hold them to the same standard…but we have to hold America to the standard of perfection (which, ironically, shows that even liberals believe in American Exceptionalism, otherwise why hold it and it alone to such a standard).  We’re not perfect, no one is.  But we have always been the beacon that sings to the best in humanity, not the example that speaks to the worst.

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 “shinning 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.

But to celebrate the greatest nation in history, we have a day.  Barbeque, fireworks.  Woo-hoo!  Seems a bit off doesn’t it.  Granted, patriotism should be a year long habit, not just a seasonal or single day event…but the same can be said of all the ideals of the December Holiday season, so that’s not an argument.

Too often I think people forget that this is a nation where people still regularly risk their life to get to.  America-or-die isn’t a slogan it’s of a fact of existence.  Whether you were born here or came here you should take more than just a day out of every year to remember what a blessing this country is.  Of course there are some ignorant jackasses out there, who don’t seem to understand this blessing who say “I didn’t sign up for a country that’s the rest of the world’s police, I just happened to be born into it.”  (We’ll get into the petty ignorance and evil of the world police thing later.)

I don’t know what we could do to make our celebration of our nation and what is good about it longer than a single day…it should be from Memorial Day to Independence Day, but it’s not.  Maybe it’s that there are so many holidays from Thanksgiving to New Year’s that make it a season.  That’s easily solved.  Let’s move tax day and Election Day to July 2nd (the day the Continental Congress actually voted on the Declaration).  I think we should always keep in mind what we’re voting for so by placing election day on the same day as the vote of the Declaration would work just fine by me and by moving tax day to the same day we can remember what control the people we’re voting for have control over (instead of almost 7 months after they’ve stolen from you and your hatred for the libertines with your money has faded).

For my part it’s going to be a couple months since I’ve done a series of movies, and so starting tomorrow we will count down the best patriotic films as well as a few blogs about what it is that makes America so special.

And perhaps, just perhaps I’ll start convincing you to start decorating the house from Memorial Day to the 4th with flags and symbols of patriotism like you would at Christmas with wreaths and trees.  Maybe just maybe I’ll be able to kindle a sense of heightened patriotism that isn’t just for a day but for a season, which may have residual effect through the year.  And with any luck this will spread to even more people.

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Weekly Meditation: If it’s not working, change it.

This week’s meditation quote comes from The Book of Certitude.  The Book of What?  Certitude.  Written by the prophet Baha’u’llah, it is the central work of the Baha’i belief system, probably the world’s religion youngest major religion (unless New Age ever gets counted as a belief).  I’ll be honest I don’t refer to the Book of Certitude as much as other holy texts (but certainly more than ones that, say, advocate mass genocide) but it does have its moments of wisdom.

For instance:

 189: “We have variously and repeatedly set forth the meaning of every theme, that perchance every soul, whether high or low, may obtain, according to his measure and capacity, his share and portion thereof. Should he be unable to comprehend a certain argument, he may, thus, by referring unto another, attain his purpose. “That all sorts of men may know where to quench their thirst.” [Italics Added]

 

In most organized religions you seldom get an understanding that if one idea doesn’t work you should move onto what does rather than just mindless hold to dogma…although this should not be surprising for a religion that thinks Abraham, Jesus, Mohammed, Krishna, Buddha and Zoroaster are all prophets of God, nor as far as I know, did Baha’u’llah claim to be the last prophet that will ever come.  And again while I could probably get into volumes of commentary on passage, I’m going to go with the idea that that if it isn’t working, it’s time to move on and find something that is.

If you are completely happy with your life, wonderful…please tell me your secret.  I think however that for the rest of us, there are moments where we feel like George Bailey half-way through the film, not quite sure what the hell we’re doing with our lives.  Not miserable, but not sure how to be even happier.

Now I’m big on focusing on the good and using the law of attraction to visualize a better life.  But looking at what’s wrong can also be helpful so long as you don’t get bogged down in the negative.

So to start out this week I want you to make a list of things you are unhappy about in your life.  Stop writing at 20 items or so, we don’t want to get too bogged down in the negative.  Too often our misfortunes and miseries in life have a single root problem that merely tends to spill out into our the rest of our life.  And while the more pressing problems of job, relationship, health might be quite detrimental, they have are merely symptoms of a more basic problem (that may be in one of the more important areas) that then affects everything else in your life.  But you can’t solve a problem until you know the cause of it.

So this week I want you to meditate on this list for 10 minutes every day, beginning your meditation with the question ”What is the root cause of all of these dissatisfactions in my life.”  And clear your mind and let the universe provide you an answer.
Now, hopefully if your meditations do point to a single cause, meditation alone won’t be enough to solve those problems. New job, new relationship, new city, new behavior…it might take a little doing, but if you find the cause of your problems, you do need to change it—but I’m here to provide meditations you will be responsible for changing the thing you can.

And as I’m always about the positive, I would focus an additional ten minutes on visualizing what your life will look like with this stumbling block removed.

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