Saturday, November 27, 2010

"Ordered Liberty" a Product of the Mind

Americans live in "ordered liberty". We appreciate our order through our Constituional government, and our liberty through the way we want to frame our reality. "Reality" is framed by the individual in personal values, and is lived out in adulthood.. Oscar Wilde said that a society was a mental construct, and this is why our culture allows for individual conscience  and expression. Our laws protect our liberties and this is why we are a pluralistic society, although we have a "Judeo-Christian" influence.".James T. Ellison said it best
The real death of America will come when everyone is alike.

"Minds" are what our brains record through memory and our senses in our present reality. How we understand and interpret our reality in the present is influenced greatly by our past experiences and the "messages" that were interpreted again by our "minds". Our futures can be affected by these "messages" as they give us our expectation and impact our views of the future.

An individual's personal history is not the only reality that impacts his understanding in the present, but also his information about an objective past. Humans come to understand and interpret reality from their understanding of history. Personal history is a given, but not national, social, cultural history. These are subjects to be sought. It is a framing outside of "self", but constitutes another aspect of "self-understanding".

Our nation is exceptional because it allows for the personal, and not just a national, or cultural history. But, unfortunately, America's personal histories have overshadowed our national and cultural history. And that is a sad state for a society, because it undermines our unity, as well as hinders human development. Mikhail Gorbachev understood that unity is of necessity for a peaceful co-existence;
"Peace is not unity in similarity but unity in diversity, in the comparison and conciliation of differences"

I think the greates danger, as well as our greatest blessing is our diversity, because liberty does not protect our national or cultural interests. And our emphasis on individuality has also hindered our understanding of ourselves as "a people". I have hope that the 'Tea Party" movement will bring about a more engaged and informed citizenry. And that through our realization of our diversity, we will come to appreciate the need for unity, for our nation and our own future hope.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Why I Think Believing Iis Dangerous in the World of Science and Scientists

Belief in the supernatural realm is dangerous, because it denies the real world and tries to blame "the devil" or accepts passivly such things as tyranny, abuse, and evil. Such thinking does not lead one to learn, grow or expand, becuase "God will take care of you". Whenever suffering or injustice happens, it is chalked up to "God's training ground, because God doesn't allow anything to happen unless it is in his Divine Purpose, Plan and Will. Tyranny, abuse and evil in the world is not challenged, it is accepted as "God's rule on earth", whereas, each person deserves the right to exist, be respected and given opportunity.

Today, science frames our reality and understanding differently than in the past. Science is showing us more and more how the world works and what probably happened from the beginning. Humans may not be the only life in the universe. We just don't know for sure...

Where the Church used to teach man as the center of the universe, science undermined that understanding where it became known that the Sun was the center of our solar system and we are only one solar system in the universe. This fact alone is humbling to man, as he is not the ultimate focus of all things.

Man becomes responsible in this "universe" because he no longer depends upon a God out there, but takes on responsibility for himself. People do disagree as to what is the responsibility of man toward himself, the environment and others will be. And these differences are not easy black and white solutions in a world that is filled with diverse ways of understanding and thinking.

So, believeing is dangerous because it limits, defines and dismisses the greater questions about life, and the world we live.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Lies, Free Expression, and Security

There are many things in free societies that one should be grateful for; an ability to have opportunities, and to express oneself in many ways. But, whenever the public discourse is shorn of its diverse understandings or ways of "being in the world", there is a sense of oppression and feelings of betrayal. No longer is there free expression for that person (s). Yet, we do not allow for anyone or a group of people, to express themselves when it would endanger or diminish another. We believe in the right of individual liberty, as it pertains to personal conscience.

Free expression in free societies allow for "art", where there is a particular way of seeing the world's beauty. It is nature in all its glory. It is fashion in all its uniqueness. It is poetry, stories, and myth-making. One chooses which style will represent one's person. It is called "personal style". These are ways of expressing how one understands the world and desires to live in the world. "Lies" of government security or religious demands undermine these free expressions; as free societies are only as free as the press holds government accountable to the people it  represents.. And religious conscience is understood to be one among many forms of understanding the transcendent.

Security is a value for human existence and emotional well-being, and yet, how is government to secure our nation without imposing itself upon the populace?. Terrorism is a form of "self expression" at the costs of other lives. And America and the world is battling what would undermine free expression. There is no 'political correctness", as to understandings or expressions to/in one's life.  "Lies" are defined by societal breeches that breed  betrayals of trust, as individual make or form society. Society should not exist on its own and for its own sake.Soceity only exists to support its members, in whatever way that particular society deems appropriate.

Free expression in an open society breeds security for its citizens. This type of society is free from "lies" that would undermine and hinder persons their right to expression.

Eternal LIFE OR a "Socialized Theology"? and Political Realities

Christians were a Jewish sect. These did not have political power, as they were from marginal professions, such as fishermen and prostitutes. The Jews weren't all in agreement as to "eternal life" or the resurrection.
Could it be that the political reality of life, as to political power was what drove their "theologizing"? I believe so.

The Sadducees did not believe in eternal life or the resurrection, but the Pharisees did. Could it be that the Sadducees who were the more "empowered class", as to money and political power didn't need the "promise" of eternal life, because they had more choices as to their life? I believe this is key to how we "psychologically frame" reality.

Christians and the institution of the Church has used Jesus life as their example of Chrsitian faith.  Jesus condemned the "white-washed tombs" of the Pharisees because they weren't living their life like he was, as a humanitarian. But, "Christian" was only a term that was useful after the assembling of "like-minded" individuals, a society. It was a way for these to find a "Place of Belonging". They didn't have that choice in the political realities in Rome.

Fortunately, for Americans, our nation values the right of conscience as to choice. This is what supports our diverse climate as to values in life. But, unfortunately, "Christians" don't know their roots, and why the developed theology had "power" over Chruch doctrine. It was a way to make a "better life" without the practical realities of messy politics.

If One Wants to Believe...

IF one wants to believe in the transcendent or a transcendental realm, then, we must agree with the Jews or the Buddhist. It is beyond our ability to understand, so we must not impose it upon others.

One practices their "faith" in humanitarian endeavors, the other practices "self-discipline" as to consciousness. Neither co-cerces others to agree with them. Each have affirmative aspects to America's diversity in unity or unity in diversity....

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Context Is Important to Identity

Rules/laws define and bring clarity and this is important for any society. Today, though, these rules or the laws in our Constitution are being dismissed because of higher, more alturistic goals. But, such thinking leaves little room for identification factors or for justice. Justice, in this context, means respect for the society that is defined by such rules and protection for the members/citizens of such a context. Justice is defined by protecting and upholding the "rule of law'.

Today's scientists wonder if one's identity is defined by one's environment, or one's universal mind via categories. If one's identity is defined by one's environment, then it is suggested that people need to be exposed, so that their identity can be expanded to be "inclusive". "Humans", after all, are all similar.

On the other hand, if it is suspected that the human mind holds the universal categories, then education is the answer to such questions. Education would inform the mind of its moral obligations to the 'human race". But, what of diversity of interpretation of such exposure, or the creative element of the mind? or coginitive affirmation of one's "religious frame"? Even though the mind can be stimulated does that stimulation bring about the same response, behavior, or understanding? How does previous experience impact how one interprests such stimulation?

What if 'universal identity is a undefined identity? What if the mind needs a context to define itself? What if the mind uses difference to determine identity, and not uniformity? Understanding oneself in opposition to another doesn't necessarily mean oppostional behavior. It would only help to clarify and distinctify and bring more understanding to the "table" in negotiation.

I think we have found that the religious hold to identification factors apart from "constitutional forms of government" or "self-identity", as a chosen identity. Constitutional forms of government' allow for a more definitive identity via religion. But, this is a problem for the modern mind that identifies with a nation-state, and a religious tradition that undermines the "humane laws" that the nation-state holds. How is identity to be expanded or informed without undermining the nation-state?  And should one consider such religious identity as a " human right"? Some don't believe that such identity can be changed. And this is why they call for America to take care of its own business.

So, which is it, environment or education that is to be the "enlightenment" of identity? And how does one know if the identity is internalized such that it would be highly improbable for the religious to re-identify? De-conversions happen all that time, but only within the context of a free and open society. So, what should we do? Should we be engaged with spreading democracy and constitutional government? Should we continue to trade with such environments? Or should we leave the religious alone hoping that they will leave us alone?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Sleeping With the Enemy" Is One's "Moral Duty"?

Tonight, an old Julia Roberts movie was on, "Sleeping With the Enemy". It reminded me of what happens psychologically whenever tyranny rules over another.

The story line is of an abusive husband and his compliant wife, who eventually escapes his torture by feigning her death. The husband's compulsion for "order" in the house, and "control" of his wife is what abuse and psychological damage entails. The damage and trauma followed her to her "new life". She could not relax for fear that he would be "correcting" her, or around the corner to "discipline" her. Her fears interfered with her ability to form a close relationship to the 'new boy on the block".

Religious morality in some segments would support the wife's compliance with such "terrorism". She would learn to be submissive and learn virtue by submitting her selfishness and "self" to her husband's will.

Her husband's will was unreasonable. He demanded perfection in how the towels "matched" and were hung straight on the towel rack. The cans in the cabinet must be ordered in exact rows and she needn't think that she could have any will of her own, as he "owned" her. She could not relax, or be "herself". She must be conformed into an image that only he could imagine.

Some religious people think that such "order" is proper behavior according to their "social norm".  And God is no less demanding than the husband in his "absoluteness". There is little room for liberty of conscience. But, scientists also, urge conforming to their "social image", via behavioral standards of alturism. Such behavior is considered universal morality and it is deemed by some, that Americans lack a "moral compass", or have the ability to be compassionate. "Moral discipline" is needed to rectify such unrefined views.  One must submit to the standards that others have for you, for fear they will impose "discipline". Such discipline is "habit formation" where leaders determine the course for a given life. The wife responded to such demands by escaping, an attempt to survive.

Survival is a basic human need. And survival is more than physical sustenance, but psychological wholeness. Security is of necessity to psychological health. But, again, the religious believe that one should "leap in the dark" to prove one's "faith". God is the only one that can be trusted, so others don't deem it necessary to be trustworthy.

The reasons for such "demands"  from the religious of the scientists, are similar to the abusive husband's. He knew how things "should be" and he was superior to his wife in wisdom. Pride was his vice, as he demanded virtue from her. The religious and the scientific can be just as vicious.

Whenever I see or hear of such abuse, it sends chills up my spine and a gut response of repulsion. No one, whether a spouse, a religious leader, a scientist, or a government should abuse the individual in such a way. It is called tyranny. And tyranny must be resisted.

American Government and Power

"As a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights. Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions."

-- James Madison, National Gazette essay, March 27, 1792
American government was created to protect its citizens from abuses of power. Those that hold positions of power are accountable to "the people" and the checks and balances in our government. Our Founders understood that men were limited and were not always to be trusted when it came to power. Lord Acton's quote was probably in their minds when they formed a "more perfect union". "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely".

Power was understood in the public domain as service, not priviledge. Priviledged positions were not viewed apart from their responsibility of representation. Public officials understood that good leaders, "do not lord it over" their contituencies, but protected and represented their interests.

The balance of power and accountability were what protected those in leadership from becoming short-sighted and narrowly focused on goals that might end up usurping another's right of liberty. Liberty was of utmost importance to American principles of "good government". Limited government meant that government was to "check" its own over-bearing nature, not just the people's.

American Society and Individuality

"The majority, oppressing an individual, is guilty of a crime, abuses its strength, and by acting on the law of the strongest breaks up the foundations of society." Thomas Jefferson.

Thomas Jefferson's quote affirms the natural right of individual liberty, which is the basis of human rights. Our country affirmed voluntary associations in society, and was founded on the principle that kings, oligarchies, and dictatorships were immoral forms of governing humans, as to individual  liberty and conscience. The individual was what formed these voluntary associations.

Society is structured by individuals that form voluntary social networks for a particular purpose. Their goals are as diverse as the individuals that design them. So, how does one define such diversity of interests and purposes in our free society? One can't, and this is what makes America "free".

Individuals in America are valued as to their individual rights. Liberty is granted in the Bill of Rights, as to speech, assembly, civil jury trial, petition of greviances, and limits government as to search and seizure.While the individual adults have these  protections, the individual child is impacted by society and how the family protects and develops his/her "potential". Family, is therefore, an important value to/for society.

Society cannot flourish as long as families are not supportive of the child's development. Government intervention "standardizes" and demoralizes the child, and does not provide the needed encouragement for the child to excel. Parents and teachers are the only ones that can impact the child in a personal way, once the child is school aged.

Religious and academic liberty are also values in American society and has made for our culture wars. While religion has valued the family, science has challenged religion's absolutes. And this has made for uncomfortable "bed-fellows" in our social climate. The polarization has become so defining that it is hard to get a word in "edge-wise" to bring about a solution to such societal tension.

But, it has been science that has brought about the prosperity of our nation and furthered American "hope" of the American Dream. The American Dream was the fulfillment of human potential and societal flourishing. Science was America's "hope" for a better tomorrow.

Religion, on the other hand, had to re-define itself, segregate itself, or battle for the 'Bible". Such re-orientations are not about human or societal flourishing, but oppression and tyranny of a "religious class". Religious liberty, in America, was the value of individual conscience and was granted by a protection of that liberty in our First Amendment. The State had no say about individual conscience in free association of this aspect of society. One could choose whether or not one wanted such association.

American society is not a "one size fits all formula", but a vast and complex mix of minds that form a society where human value is of utmost importance and society is as varied as the individuals that formulate it.
“Society exists only as a mental concept; in the real world there are only individuals.” Oscar Wilde

    I Like this quote I dislike this quoteSociety is produced by our wants and government by our wickedness Thomas Paine

In any free society, the conflict between social conformity and individual liberty is permanent, unresolvable, and necessary” Kathleen Norris

The definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.” Adlai E. Stevenson

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bush's Interview

Last night my husband and I watched Hannity interview Bush. In between commercials, we flipped to the other channels and were curious and amazed at what the commentators on these news shows were saying. Did they hear Bush, himself? Or had they already established their view without hearing him? Had their ideology trumped his "defense"?

No matter what your political persuasion, one could not question the integrity or the concern with which this President "did his duty". He took the job seriously and talked about the "human side" of being the President and making the decisions that impact lives. He admitted in so many words, the feelings of limitation, and his questioning of his decisions, when all the information "was not in".

He had thought that the airplane that went down in Pennsylvania was due to a "command" he's given to the Air Force for protection. I couldn't imagine. Then, there was the scare that he and his staff might have been exposed to biological elements that would've killed them. I was impressed with his fortitude.

Hannity read a letter from Bush's father, President H. George Bush Sr., and one could visibly see how it impacted George, Jr. The connection of his humanity was what struck me. This "ideal" and representative Person was a real human being. I felt like I had had a chat with him myself. But, while in office, he respected his position and weighed heavily what to say and what not to say, in regards to our security. He wanted to protect the American people and the American people's "way of life".

I gained respect for the "man", George W. Bush by watching this interview. And I valued his commitment to our nation in service.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Solutions Produce Other Problems

I believe in irreducibly complexity, when it comes to the human animal, therefore, I resist any type of "production" when it comes to the human. I can "see", understand and agree to a certain extint when it comes to the scientific discoveries concerning the human. Humans are just not the same as "matter in motion". And "matter in motion" is what some would value, as to action/behavior. Alturism is their goal, as life is without "hope" for those deemd to live in the lower caste status. Does such social engineering salve the conscience of the "elite" because of their "good intentions"?

Alturism has been of interest to scientists of late, because of "social Darwininism" and the concern for social control/order. But, control/order is a problem itself, as whenever we seek to control,, even with alturistic intentions, then we also limit and define. Limitation and definition of "goods" or social goals, inevitably leads to 'government regulation" which inhibits creativity and growth. Government regulation is not a liberal ideal. And liberal ideals are what made our country great and protected the value of the individual.

Individuals have their own dreams, destinies and desires to fulfill. And those that appealled to this human need, have "won the race" in our elections. Americans believe in the value of individual liberty in regards to life. And no one should define or limit another's life.

The Problems of Testing...

The modern mind-set solves problems with solutions. Standardization and testing is seen as an effective way to solve the problem of categorizing individuals. Humans like to categorize because it makes life more easy to solve the problems in the world. Our minds, in fact, are made to categorize, I think. So, what is the problem?

Before I go into the problems, I want to affirm the need to test, because testing defines. And definition is necessary to organization. But,  the problem for me is;  is a human being a product, commodity, or problem to be evaluated, shuffled into place and "presto" the organization functions!?

I began my pondering on the problem, I have with testing  a year or so ago. For instance, yesterday just for fun, I took a "test" about which Disney character represented "me", I was frustrated as I usually have been with testing. I know these tests are foolish and simplistic in many ways, but what I found interesting were the questions they used. Don't the questions themselves determine or limit answers? And what if an answer was not given, that would have been more representative to "the truth"? How does this limitation of answers skew the outcomes? And are the outcomes a means of defining a given individual, and how much is that individual determined in their minds about those outcomes? Does it influence a person's performance in a given situation because they believe themselves to be a "Belle" :-)?

I re-took the tests and gave other answers that I also thought were representative of "me". But, some questions left me wondering how to answer. Do I value "humility"? Well, what are you asking? Are you asking if I value this for myself or when I see it in others? Or is it a general question about character values? And what if experience has taught someone that a certain character trait is in opposition to their best interests, like survival? Would that hinder their identification with humility?

Does observing another, like an object, change the individual and thier perceptions, responses, or reactions? If so, how can social sciences be done effectively? And is social science a way for humans to understand and organize life? Is organizing life a proper goal on a grand scale? Evolution doesn't seem to value organization, so much as a fight to win. Is this what we are trying to prevent, the fight to win, or the fight for survival?

Just a rant of mine today, because I think that the labelling and wearing of labels is dismissive of personhood. And I look at systemizing as a limited perspective in understanding life and all that is.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Walls Fall Down or Should They?

Walls define and determine differences and distinctions. These are boundaries that help identify things of importance and value. This is what the Church has done through the ages in separating the sacred and the secular. Yesterday's post was about how faith and the political have been defined and understood, as 'the real". I have problems with all of them and these are the reasons, but then, faith is not about reasons, it is about vision and focus.

The Church has defined what one should believe, but can we believe in virgins that give birth? Can we believe that men are totally depraved, meaning there is nothing redeemable about them? Can we believe that we all came from one couple? And what about the discrepecies in regards to the text itself ? Belief become unbelievable in today's scientific paradigm.

Then there are those that believe that one's faith is interpreted by "bearing the cross". These follow in Jesus' steps as the "Christ of faith". But, how is one to identify with a person that lived long ago, without giving up one's own identity? Don't adults have a well-formed identity, as to their personal values and goals?

There are others that want to bring peace and good-will on earth by investigating where the history and the myth intersect and work to dissolve differences between those that are marginlized. These could be those in human need (economic inequality) and/or  those that are at political odds (political peace). But, how is one to believe in the free market and the Protestant work ethic if one also adheres to economic equality? And how is peace to come with so many differences that it has been impossible to rectify in the past? Are we at a place where those that have been at political odds can relate differently, or will there always be ideological differences in the world? I believe that ideology drives everything an individual/society holds as a value, and because of these irreconciable differences, then, we will be holding to naivete' to believe that peace will ever come world-wide and still uphold liberty of conscience.

So, where is the sacred and secular today? It is dead, except in segments of sectarian religious traditions. Life can be embraced as a gift of the "gods" or "God", or it can be embraced as a value itself.

Liberty, though, is not a value that is granted by nature, but must be nurtured and valued above all. Political liberty is hard won with shed blood and is not to be taken for granted. Leaders are to values those under them, so that justice will be forthcoming in equal consideration. The world is "at odds" and the walls or the defining elements cannot fall down without a disregard and disrespect for our nation's defining values of liberty itself..

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Question of Faith and the Political

Faith has been the focus of our recent elections. Those who believed that our country values religious liberty are those that understood themselves as the faithful in protesting a "government take-over". But, how faith and politics interacts is a sticky situation.

Many have sought to define faith based soley on scripture. Their is a fundamentalist view of life and knowledge that is stringently defined by "holy scripture". The academic disciplines are suspect in this view.

Others have understood their faith based on the institution of the Church. And the Church has created a rationalization of faith claims which becomes doctrine. Those that do not adhere to these definitions are ex-communicated.

Still others have sought to use their reason to defend faith by theology. But, theology is still the Church's defense or rationale to believe without "grounding".

Some have sought to "ground" and live out their faith by a "logos' understanding. These have brought about an idealization of faith (Christ of faith) through Jesus, as a life example. These are piestic/behavioral oriented believers.

Those that have given up on definitions and are prone to a negative theology, where God ceases to be defined, because he is beyond definition, are pluralists. These are universalists in their understanding of faith. And they attempt to unify faith along the lines of human need.

Those that want to understand faith in regards to a particular tradition study the historical, political, and social structuring of such a faith. These are apt to be useful to political goals for peace.

Because I have doubts about the practicality of ideals when it comes to faith claims, I am in "limbo" and will not commit. Political goals and purposes seem to be the most realistic value to and for me. Therefore, our country's value of individuality/diversity and liberty are important values to me. These can only be protected if those in power understand that we are all created equal, without imposing thier ideological understanding of the way the world works or how the individual "should be" in the world.

I am afraid that religion has been useful to further political ends without considering that indivdual liberties will be undermined by such  social engineering.  And our American ideals of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" will be a distant memory unless we defend such liberty, as the most important value for American identity.

Monday, November 1, 2010

What Would I Do?

I just got a call asking me political questions. It got me thinking....What would I do? And what do I believe?

The question made me question whether I would govern on a practical/utilitarian model or a principled/deontological model. I don't know.

Certain principles must be adhered to, if we want to protect a  Constitutional government. One cannot get too practical without compromising and undermining the basics. But, what are those basics? Are they ideologically driven, or pragmatically negotiated?

Because of such quandaries, I wonder if we are judging some of our politicians, too harshly. Compromise is a necessity if one is to get anything done. Our Founders balanced power for this very reason. They wanted to protect our government from abuses of power. And such is a necessity if we continue to remain free.

What drives me and what concerns me most? What drives or concerns you most?