Monday, February 28, 2011

Which Is It? Balancing Power or Abuse of Power

What is the difference in the balance or power or abuse of power?

The balancing of power is a horozonal view based upon separate functions, but equal distribution of power. Balncing power means that the separate branches of government are protected from conflicts of interest. Jefferson moved the Supreme Court from the Capitol building for this very reason. Balncing power is about democracy, and human rights, while abuse of power doesn't maintain that power is equally distributed. Power just is. And  unchecked power, or power without any limits makes for the "abuse of power".

Abuse of power is about hierarchal view of organizational structuring of society, or government. Such is the  Republican form of government that America was founded upon. The principle of leadership, that is
representative. We are a government "by and for the people".

Power is about money, position, influence, information, and knowledge. And such aspects of power are useful to protect the individual from those that might be unscrupulous in their use of power. Power can be represented by groups or an indivdual. But, groups that have collective influence, inside information and money, are the foudations of corrupt government. Corrupt government do not represent "the people", but themselves, in insider trading, protecting each other's backs and outright pay-offs and bribery.

In America, we have laws that protect "the little guy" from such corruption. Our very form of government is the "rule of law". We are  "a people" that is ruled by law and not a King/Divine. And the law is equally binding on every individual. It is what protects all of our interests, when we value "the rule of law" and its protections, because the law is to balance power and prevent "abuse of power".

Balance of Power, Corporate Interests, Unions, and Justice

...the outcome of both market fundamentalism and anarchism, if applied universally, is identical. The anarchists associate with the oppressed, the market fundamentalists with the oppressors. But by eliminating the state, both remove such restraints as prevent the strong from crushing the weak. Ours is not a choice between government and no government. It is a choice between government and the mafia." George Monbiat

Government wasn't intended to bring about justice, but prevent injustice. Those that petition their government for a redress of grievances are seeking justice from our courts. Ideally, our courts weren't to defend "justice", as our government's "checks and balances" were to prevent abuses of power.

James Madison viewed government as horizonally protecting or balancing of power among the braches of the Federal government (executive, legislative and judicial), while the vertical relationship was to be no less a balance of power.

Today many are seeking to uphold the Tenth Amendment, where States have the right to nullify the Federal government. Indiana's "Right to Work" was one such attempt to give "the people" a choice about whether the worker should be granted protection by "collective bargaining", that leaves the States at the mercy of teachers and thier union contracts.

Collective bargaining is a hierarchal form of governing, and without realizing it, the worker is less able to control his "outcome" than if he went about negotiating the terms himself. Collective bargaining has an intial appeal, as it grants "protections" and advances interests. But, once the unions are entrenched,  the worker becomes, again a pawn of others . Collectivity does nothing to enhance industry, creativity, and self-governance. And it does nothing to protect the corporation from manipulations from the worker. And honest job requires an honest wage, and those terms should be negotiated terms, in a free society. Corporatons, nor the Union has a right to impose their terms upon the individual, without consent!

So, while I don't believe that anarchy is the means to further "good government", neither is collective bargaining. The individual must deal with his company himself, and the company should have the decency to negotiate the terms of the contract with the full knowledge and consent of those employed.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Religion As a Cause of Evil

Religion is a cause of evil, because humas are the only ones that can make choices. And choices are what define moral value. The religious are pre-disposed to make assumptions, or presumptions upon the universe, and others based on their "understanding " of a text, or tradition. Choices made within a religious context,  are a limited view, while claiming universality. Free societies allow choice as these value individuals, in their own right. Religious humans are not more valued than non-religious ones. Stealing or murder is an absolute value that protects both the religous and non-religious from discrimination. The religious do not have "Divine rights".

Choice is about present realities, ideals, and values of an individual. It is about taking ownership of one's life and priorities. How can any other entity, no matter the justification make or define another's "ought"?  The present is the only way to live life to the fullest, because it is only in the present moment that choices present themselves in light of all contigencies.

Contingencies are the varibles that also allow a free universe and choice to another individual. These choices intersect at points in time and must be considered as opportunities, or distractions. The determination over how one will judge a particular choice before them is left open and not a pre-determined value. The only absolute is the absolute of liberty of conscience before the law. Individuals being equal before law, means that there is to be liberty of choice, as there is not to be co-ercion, even by a "God". Humans are indivdiual persons and must be respected as such.

So, the religious and religion define what the 'moral ought" is and set about propagating a "purpose", or "plan" that is force fed to the unsuspecting. This is a collectivist thinking. Collectives do not allow freedom of thought and opinion because the collective;s leaders might just loose their power to promote their agendas. Individuals are never respected  their own right, in a collectivist society. The individual is only a "role or function" within the "collective.  Collectivist societies serve to further "moral obligations', to the collective  under dictators, or Rulers that leave no room for independence of thought, value or purpose. Therefore, religion and the religious are a cause of evil. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Entitlements, and Expectations.

The news is filled with the price of oil, which may go up because of the Middle East crisis. And the concern over who will be ruling these country's and if we can believe that they will consider our interests, as well as theirs. It seems like survival of the fittest, or all out "war" (using the term metphorically). Should these people have a right to "free themselves" from oppressive government?

Then the news on the housing market going down again. Where will it leave those that can't sell their house to move to take their new job? How will they afford another place to live? And will those that took advantage of loans given to those that had not proved their responsibility, rest on the shoulders of us all? And why? Because some "do-gooder" thought that a large stip-end might help the less fortunate, as always the case with "do-gooders". Does such an attitude promote entitlement mentality? Do the poor not have a right of existence, just as the politically oppressed in the Middle East?

Entitlement means that one can expect something. Entitlement means that someone else will give you whatever it is you want because you deserve it. Why would anyone think they deserve somethigt for nothing? But, then I had to quesiton myself.

I grew up with my grandfather. He has written me into his will. And even though I have not felt that I deserved it, as I was not his natural child. In fact, I wasn't even his natural grandchild. I had always been grateful to him for including me. But, this is just the problem. His inclusion of me is not based on a "felt earning of RIGHT".  My "place" in the family was tenuous, or at least that was what I "felt". Not that he has given me that impression. No, he has always welcomed me.

But, recently I was having a conversation with a couple of childhood friends, expressing my fear of being excluded and rejected by others because of my place in my grandfather's heart. They assured me that I was fearing something that I had a "right" to, as I had grown up with him.

Then, I started thinking about my feelings, and I found that I really do feel entitled, not to more, but to equal treatment, because I had a place in his home. And my constant struggle to believe that I was just as entitled and then battle with the feelings of not "being worthy or valued enough" to have equal treatment, in speciific instances.

Why do humans feel entitled? Is it our society? Should humans feel entitled to fair and equal treatment? . Where is self-responsibility and a sense that what one earns, one deserves? Don't most people believe that work will equal a salary? And just what is a "just and fair" wage?

Union discussions in Wisconsin and those that make demands that their employer cannot meet are making Wisconsin and it citizens feel resentful and/or entitled, but to different things, because there is different needs. The children and parents want the teachers to teach, while the teachers have to make their 'ends" meet and make their jobs and time worthwhile with negotiated pay. What is one to think or do? Isn't Indiana's "right to work" a fair policy? Or is there to be some standardization to equalize the playing field where no one can have more than another....

Money and its meaning is a complex issue. One thing is for sure, one cannot take money lightly, because money signifies something of value. Entitlements must have to do with expectations. But, just because someone has expectations, doesn't mean that everyone will agree that those expectations are valid ones. Ones that need to be considered as "just' or fair.

 TheTea Partiers are tired of the taxpayer picking up the tab for items that were not represented by their representatives on the campaign trail. The taxpayer feels entitled to equal representation as corporate interests or the Union bosses seem to have a special place at the table to our Representatives. The expectation in our society that we will not be politically oppressed, because of some "Big Whig" taking over and demanding that our hard-earned money be their "pork barrell"!

I think false expectations should be faced, not supported and encouraged, otherwise we enable the poor in their state and their expectations of a "hand-out". I don't think this is good for society or for the poor. And I think that political oppression needs accountability to "the people". Otherwise, those that abuse power will trample our expectations of a fair and just system under their feet and they won't even look back!

Economic and political justice are on the forefront of headline news. Both are volitile issues that must be addressed if the world is not to "go up in smoke" with another atomic bomb.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Religious Identity

Religious identity is a coping mechanism. The reason I say this is because "God" is to over-intend, or cause "what is". This comforts those whose lives are in social, or poltical contexts that don't give them voice, or right to "self identify", as to "self identity". There is comfort in these cases in numbers, or, at least not being alone. ("God is with you..."). "God" is viewed as the "end all" solution to every problem or concern.

Besides being a coping mechanism, or giving a "reason to hope" beyond this world, there is the need to defend one's "Self", to make oneself "win" or appear "better than" another, whch is is the attempt to buttress an undeveloped "Ego", or "Self". This is done through various "works of service". These are seen or viewed by others in the religious community, as well as the "religious self", as "performances" that validate ones' existence. And such performances justify one's claims to "truth". Virtue is not about one's essential being, but one's "kind of being". It is as if, one has to "earn" or justify one's existance.

There is a difference between "essence of being" and "kind of being" And the differnece is in one's value judgements. When a community defines what is expected, or "ought to be", then one's performance is based on the "kind of individual" and whether that individual meets expectations. Standardizations are ways that groups define and stamp a person with "Recommended", or "Unrecommended". All groups must evaluate people based on their particular values, otherwise, the group dissolves its cohesiveness.

On the other hand, the "essence of being" is one's very innate nature, in gifting , interests and value. There is no "defined outside source, at least in a free society. One can become whatever one will. This virtue is not a value judgment about performance, but,  Being itself. This view of innatedness, is an "essential foundation", as to the value of the human being, apart from definitions, and performance.

Religious identity is "caught up" with how to define oneself 'correctly', because such efforts are "life and death", heaven and hell, or truth or falsehood, as it pertains to "eternal things" And eternal things are more important and valuable than the real world. The religious don't enter into"what is of life", but seek to define life, before they enter it. And sometimes cease to live or enter life at all!! And many times the religious obstruct those that are trying to "enter life" and Be, as to their essestial natures, thinking that they protect and defend "the true faith". All the while, they are invading spaces that are not their to invade!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Humans and Need

My grandchildren came to spend the night last night. Our youngest is almost 7 months old. She is a delightful child, but can be very demanding when she knows what she wants. This got me thinking about human behavior.

Last night, I attempted to sleep, but our youngest woke up several times. Each time I met the need and put her back down to sleep. Her needs were necessities to her comfort, a bottle or a clean diaper. It would be ludacrous for anyone to think that I "knew better than she" about her needs. Suppose I took that assumption. I thought she needed to learn a lesson about being so demanding and I refused to meet her needs. What would have happened?

We can only surmise, but would she eventually fall asleep from exhaustion due to crying out from hunger or discomfort? Would it build trust that her needs would be met the next time she felt the hunger pains or the need for a dry diaper? Would I have a different analysis if she were 4 instead of 7 months? What about adults that are emotionally 7 month old? Do I handle them the same way I do my grand-daughter? How much should be taken into consideration in dealing with another human being? Shouldn't aduts become self-aware about their emotional needs, so that these can be acknowledged and then, it would become easier to negotiate relationship?

I think not understanding the hidden desires or needs, so often leads to miscommunication between adults. These needs come from deep longings of the heart, not upfront "facts". These needs may not even be known to the person, themself, and certainly not the person who interacts with them. Adult humans have ways to meet the needs they fear will not be met, and so often it is not a straighforward way. These needs could be "met" throught self-destructive behaviors, such as self-denial, or addictions. And the needs can also be met by some form of manipulation.

Manipulation has its own problems, besides being a demnad, it is also a denial to mutually beneficial relationship. And it undercuts the basis of a healthy trust in relating to the other.

My granddaughter is building trust about the world. Will the world be seen as a "good place" or will it be seen as primarily a bad place. This balck and white childish view is compounded by the way one understands the world through religion, as well. Sometimes these images can be self-defeating because of the stark contrast of "bad versus good". When one is trained to see in black and white, the world doesn't fit and this lack of understanding can lead to simplistic solutions that undercut real problems, and don't meet and address the real needs..

It is hard enought to communicate with healthey individuals, that have had stable backgrounds, because all humans seek their own self-interest, even when it looks like alturism. (there is some kind of "pay-off" that subverts the "costs" upfront). But, when self-interest is submerged under "altruistic concern" or religious "care", it becomes doubly hard to communicate, negotiate and come to terms in the relationship. The manipulator has a lot to loose, at least in their eyes. And they can scape-goat anyone that stands in their way.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

What Are The Pros and Cons to American Government?

Because I have been thinking along the lines of American government, political philosophy, human development, and religion, I will attempt to "think through" in this post what would be the pros and cons to our form of government.

Our government allows for each individual to have rights before the law. One citizen is not know to "theoretically" have "special privileges". We are "equal before the law" The. Power to be a moral agent, independent from co-ercive power, whether government or religion.  And this has its benefits because we are allowed liberty in our choices and values. "Self" can be developed in many ways. And "self rule" was the ideal of our Founding Fathers.

But, what is the downfull of such a government? Because each individual is allowed the freedom "to be" and "to do", there is not over-riding or over-arching narrative, other than liberty. Liberty is an important value, but it also can be damning if it undermines societal foundations or institutions. These insitutions are the framing of societal values. And societal values affect developing children within a society.

Family is the child's first frame of reference for every physical and emotional need being met, as well as societal values being transferred. Because our society has valued liberty and the pursuit of "gold" we have a society that has the value of work, prosperity, and human choice in vocation. These values are good ones, but have left the family stressed as to meeting all its obligations to the child.

The child is left with the sense that his value to and in society is dependent on his ability to find a successful career and make money. The endless cycle in pursuit of the "American Dream" has left the family struggling to find its identity and the child is left with the "leftovers".

The emotional needs of the child are of ultimate importance to meet, otherwise the child is not secure and will make the attempt to find security in ways that might be destructive. Obessession to be sucessful is just as much a driven and compulsive need to find acceptance and value, and deaden the pain of a negative "self",  as the drug-addict driven to deaden his pain by using his drug of choice. An individual's choice of drug has as many faces as America has allowed liberties of choice.

So, while American government allows for the individual to "find himself" and to develop to his full potential on his own terms, America's values of family are not as important in our cultural values, except in conservative religious contexts.

Conserivative religious contexts, while good in defense of family values, have other obstacles to overcome. Their bias or prejuidice toward social problems in the family leaves them with little to draw compassion from their hearts, unless they happen to be compelled through thier own drivenness to be the "hero" to a particular family. While heroes are needed, if "self" finds their value and sense of self only within that context, it becomes an unhealthy one. "Self" must independent enough to evaluate reasonably what is of proirity and importance in a given situation. Religion can hinder such ;self assessment, because of it deadening affirmation of "what one believes or what one does", giving a doubly strong resitance to honest self assessment.

Maybe all humans are bent toward these tendencies to heroism, where the "self" is idealized and applauded by an attempt to cover over the deficiencies of one's past childhood memories of "self".

America has the ability to give room for diversity, but it allso allows enough room for denying values that might just be the foundations of society and a healthy functioning "Self".

"Self" as Identity

I was looking through some Amazon book titles this morning, when one caught my eye. "The Self We Live By". I thought that was an interesting title, and though I have not read the book, nor do I know what the author's thesis is, I am going to use it as a jumping off point to write about what has been "on my mind".

Some people do not accept "self" as a concept. These think that "self" does not and cannot exist apart from community. While humans are social beings, the human is also a rational beings. And reason forms or identifies with different aspects of one's "world". "Self" changes over the course of a person's life, as this is what maturity, learning, and  "coming to terms" with one's values is about. So, what forms the "self"?

"Self" is formed by experiences, within cultural contexts. "Self" is understood,  by such social contexts, but are not dependent on them after "self-awareness" of them. Consciousness of one's social inllences becomes a time of reflecting on what one chooses to value most. And these identification factors can change by one's conscious choice. Then, one's bias or prejuidice is not an unconcious emotional response to life, but a rational explaination of life.

Not every culture allows for "self"s development, if the culture is unduly restrictive. These restrictions can be along the lines of religion, or political ideology.

Religion defines "God", "sprituality", and social mores and values. Political ideology defines how a culture undestands itself. Both of these aspect of/in culture form the child, the young adult and eventually, the adult. This is why being aware and self-reflective as to one's values is important whenver one encounters other people. Communication cannot happen apart from defining terms, and grasping ultimate values.

I am thankful to have been born in America, "the land of the free".....America and her people must "prove" the second part of that sentence; "the home of the brave...." and what that might mean to Amercia's future!

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Global Move Via Healthcand Teacher's Unions

The recent judgement that Obama's healthcare plan is unconstitutional is in appeal. But, that doesn't seem to matter to those that seem to be committed to a "higher law" or "greater purpose", and that is underming State authority.

It seems to me that power grabs by centralization was NOT what was in mind of our origninal government strucuturing! The State was to be Sovereign in their own affairs. But, if the adminstration holds the States accountable to this healthcare initiative, it may just bankrupt the States. Would the Federal government step in to "fix the problem", by centralizing power? It would be a devious move and determined poiticians to attain more centralization of power and our GNP.

On the other issue that is bombarding America is the issue of teacher's and unions! Unionization is also a way to centralize government  through the board of education, instead of the State being responsible, the Nation would be responsible. Would educational institutions be forced to conform to a national standardization of education? Again the minds of the young will be in the hands of the few.

Granted that sometimes standards are necessary to ensure that basice are taught and undestood in our nation. It is in the nation's interests that the population be educated.

But, will there be an attempt to unify across the boundaries of the nation-state? Would this be the first step to a "global governance" and "World Citizenship"? How and who will determine what kind of govenrment and what laws will be implemented. Hopefully, fundamentalists will not gain enough popularity to gain a foothold that would deter agreement as to globalized standards. Can gloablization be in the best intersts of the inidivual? I don't think so, because as government increases in size the more beaucratic regulation must be created to maintain "social order" and structure.

Will such a globalized govenrment have a balance of power? Will there be a world-wide election? Or will we be tehcnically, practically, or symbolically under a dictator?

The balance of power and structuring in our government was a delicate one. I don't  think that such structuring would be an easy one for the globe. And really, I don't think that the purpose of our government is really what is desired, i.e. balance of power.

Hopefully, that last bastion of liberty, i.e. America will not be destroyed before we can have another election, so "the people" can protect their rights, as well, as their nation's.

What Is Government?

Wiki states;

In the social sciences, the term government refers to the particular group of people, the administrative bureaucracy, who control a state at a given time, and the manner in which their governing organizations are structured.[1][2] That is, governments are the means through which state power is employed. States are served by a continuous succession of different governments.[3]

Each successive government is composed of a specialized and privileged body of individuals, who monopolize political decision-making, and are separated by status and organization from the population as a whole. Their function is to enforce existing laws, legislate new ones, and arbitrate conflicts via their monopoly on violence. In some societies, this group is often a self-perpetuating or hereditary class. In other societies, such as democracies, the political roles remain, but there is frequent turnover of the people actually filling the positions.[4]

In most Western societies, there is a clear distinction between a government and the state. Public disapproval of a particular government (expressed, for example, by not re-electing an incumbent) does not necessarily represent disapproval of the state itself (i.e. of the particular framework of government). However, in some totalitarian regimes, there is not a clear distinction between the regime and the state. In fact, leaders in such regimes often attempt to deliberately blur the lines between the two, in order to conflate their own selfish interests with those of the polity.[5]

The 14th century Arab scholar Ibn Khaldun defined the government as "an institution which prevents injustice other than such as it commits itself". The British philosopher-anthropologist Ernest Gellner considered Ibn Khaldun's definition to be the best in the history of political theory. For Ibn Khaldun, government should be restrained to a minimum for as a necessary evil, it is the constraint of men by other men."

Government is an arbitrator of justice. Justice can be defined as individual rights in America, as Jefferson said, the individual is the smallest minority. Civil rights seek to prevent abuses of power. Without such 'real securities" as civil rights, then, the individual is at the "mercy of a collective" and collectives tend to Statist's views in understanding and attaining  particular purposes. As stated above, "......totalitarian regimes (government and STATE), there is not a clear distinction between the regime and the state. In fact, leaders in such regimes often attempt to deliberately blur the lines between the two, in order to conflate their own selfish interests with those of the polity"

Whenever groups, organization or government blur the distinction between the group's identification factors (State) and the act of governing others, then it has become totaltalitarian, or Statist. And such group identity lends itself to all kinds of atrocities; genocide, prejuidice, Us/them, social death, racism, etc.

American's identification factors are grounded in liberty. Liberty doesn't allow the lines to be blurred between government and the State. This is why whenever the ideologues reign/rule, American ideals suffer hard death blows to the "other side". And it is the basis of our culture wars.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Government Versus the Mafia

George Monbiot wrote a couple of years back:

...the outcome of both market fundamentalism and anarchism, if applied universally, is identical. The anarchists associate with the oppressed, the market fundamentalists with the oppressors. But by eliminating the state, both remove such restraints as prevent the strong from crushing the weak. Ours is not a choice between government and no government. It is a choice between government and the mafia."

I really like the way government is viewed here, as a restrainer of violence.

Responsible Leadership Allows for Choice

Responsibility means that "the buck ends here", as one of America's Presidents said. Leadership means responsibiity in all its various contexts. Leadership is not good, unless it allows for "choice".

The first and foremost important relationship is that of the family. The Family forms the child's values, his understanding of himself in the world, his self-concept, which ultimately help to form his goals. Good parenting exposes the child, bears with the child and studies the child. Good parenting is "knowing the child" well, so that the child can be guided, but not guarded; nudged, but not prodded. The parent teaches the child about choice, responsibility and helps the child to grow by giving them age appropriate responsibilities that will build a sense of confidence and assurance about their abilities. Good parenting ultimately knows that the child will grow away from a dependence on their leadership and be able to make responsible choices on their own.

Leadership at school is also important in preparing the child for responsibility. Teachers, guidance counselors, and principals all influence the child and young adult's development toward making good choices and becoming a responsible citizen, ready to give back to society.

The university or on the job training is also important in leading the young adult into functioning in society productively. Professors, supervisors, and older workers help the adult to know if their choice of major or job is the "right one".

Society, itself, is governed by leaders. And good government is only when leaders understand their position as a public trust. These leaders don't shirk their responsiblity be representative of 'the people". But, such leaders must know how to negotiate, compromise, and look for the greater interest of the nation. Those under such leaders have more choices about their lives, because leadership has acted responsibily.

Responsibility is about taking ownership, seeing need, response to one's environment. Such responsibility is about choices, priorities, and values. Not everyone will consider the same needs, or values. Some will not be able to handle more responsibility than their familial ones. But, everyone in society gains when they take their responsibilities seriously!

All good  leadership allows for responsible choice. And responsible choice is about being equipped with informaton, conscious of the needs before them, evaluating one's priorities in a given time, and committing to ultimate values, when one is through the reflecting process.

Every stage of development should be a time of growth, challenge and new responsibilities, as responsibilites are what life is made of and for.

Choice, Responsibility, and Negotiation

Choice is an ultimate value for any human, as choice values differences as to value and interests. Responsibility is about owning the consequences for one's choices and negotiating with others about differences of value or commitments. All of society's relationships should be based upon the individual right of choice.

Negotiation is about compromise, and determining whether such compormise is possible in relationship. Negotiation is part of the process of evaluating priorites as to commitments and values. In political terms, it is knowing that one might not have an "ideal" value upheld, but knowing that living in a free society doesn't affim "ideals" as defined, otherwise, the society will not be free as to diversity of definitions".

The Founders were "Wise", not "ideologues"! Wisdom means that they knew that government had to limit itself, so the individual can have the liberty to define their own "ideals". The Founders "ideals" of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness was based on the understanding of "Providence", or in today's terms, leadership. Leaders do determine and define what these ideals mean in, to and for society.

Liberals value "civil rights" or the "real world", while the conservative values "traditional values" and the "ideal world". Both have a place in our society, as to America's values, because we do affirm the family, as well as indivdiual equality before the law. America does value pragmatism and science, but we also value religious liberty. The disagreement comes from re-defining certain aspects of society. Such social change is viewed byt the liberal as a necessary right to continue to maintain the value of "equality before the law". But, the conservative views such social change as a violation of traditional principles, which might undermine society's foundations. Such differences were the basis of our Civil War.

Each side has valid points. Social change has occurred and will continue to occur, but we must not loose the values of tradition that have underwritten our society. It is just a matter, hopefully, of listening, weighing, negotiating, and coming to terms. This is responsible leadership. And it is what America needs most right now! Fair and balanced!

You Cannot Demand Relationship

I have spent the greater part of the morning trying to "discuss" (at least that was my thinking) a particular person's needs. She had called me, so I thought that this was a suggestion of her openness to me. But, unfortuately, one cannot demand a healthy living relationship.

Relationships have to be built on mutual trust, respect and a diligence to keep the communication lines open. Otherwise, the relationship become a one-sided attempt to keep alive what is really, dead.

This person doesn't seem to "give and take". And I find that if one doesn't agree with everything the person says, they feel defensive. Why the defenses? I'm not sure. But, what I do know is if one attempts to suggest another alternative interpretation about "what happened" or another's motivation, one will end up holding a phone that has gone dead. Or if I offer suggestions that might help a particular situation, there is a verbal attack. It is baffling and frustrating. But, I'm sure that the other's perspective could be similar, as to her preception of me! I just don't know!

When I attempt to make clear expectations, there is a justification and defensiveness that tells me, that this is more about "her" than "us". Maybe some people can't have relationships. Or maybe there is something that hasn't been expressed or shared that is the interpretive "frame" to everything that is said, or not said.

I have asked numerous people how to handle theis person and our relationship (or lack thereof) and most that know her seem to suggest that I really can't have a mutual relationship. I guess I just can't grasp that concept. Perhaps, I am the one that is co-dependent.

Demands upon another cannot offer real gifts of love, or sevice, but only demands of duty or obligation. This is what makes me so resistant to "requirements", such as duty, demands, commands, etc. I equate such terms with obligation, responsibility, and co-ercive and/or manipulative power.

Commitment must be a choice, but how does one commit to a relationship that isn't based on terms that define healthly relationship? can one commit to such a relationship and survive the deneigrating sense about onself? Can one have self-respect enough to overcome a bombardment of snide remarks, inuendo, and outright disrespect as to one's character or motivations or others that are mutually known? I am just at a stale-mate, as I don't know what to think or do or not do.

Why do I desire any relationship with this person? Whenever one begins to "enter" or think they enter the other's world,  there is a slammed door, or so it seems. On the other hand, this person can have a overzealous conscientiousness about another relationship, to the extent of compulsion. I've been advised that one cannot have access to those that choose to not allow such access. And when I think about it, isn't this what I'd want? Respect for my boundaries and a honoring of my "right of denial"?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What America Might Consider as a Solution

America is great because we believe that NO ONE is "above the law". The law is the leveler of position, power and prestige. But, in practice, this is not reality.

While I don't believe that the government should control the market, because the market benefits society through competition and rewards, I do believe that money does undermine "equality under law", as to one's ability to afford good lawyers to defend the average guy's interests! Corporate money and the wealthy have not only connections that corrupt our "ideal system", they also have money to get the best and brightest to defend them against criminal, or unethical activity! Should Americans look the other way when justice isn't done, and just "sigh" and say to ourselves, that that is the way things are, and no one can change it?

Those in political office should not be serviced by undue exposure to power indefinately. These positions should have term limits. Otherwise, the empowered have the position and connections to undermine "equality under law". Power can be corrupting and give one a "god-like" feeling against "all odds" at beating the system. A "god-like" sense of being "above it all", is the beginning of a downfall, whether it is in one's personal or public life. Destruction is on the heels of such invinciblity! Invincibility is the feeling of teens when they do foolish things, because they think they will never get caught! Though this might not be the overt intent or goal of a particular individual, one must always be on guard to what can happen, if one is not careful and serving for the public's interest and not one's own.

Government was never intended to be the "patron saint" of mankind, but a overseer of proper behavior regarding others and their boundaries! We must never forget that the individual and his liberties are guruanteed only as long as the government (those that serve in these positions) are seeking to promote the interests of the nation. National security should be of concern and importance to those serving the American poeple!

Correction of Consequtialism and Utility

Just a short correction to a former post.
Consequtialism is focused on consequences, not "ends". Utility is focused on "ends".

Consequentialism is a form of responsibility for outcomes, while utility is the focus of what is desired as ends.
What is desired sometimes can be dependent on hedonism while other times it is evaluated on virtue.

I think consequentialism cannot be "fair" in the real world, because how do we determine who is responsible for what, or when a society has agreed upon certain actions, or choices? Is leadership then, to be held solely accountable to such choices, that have consequences on others?

As to utility, hedonism should not be an ultimate end in life, but virtue is hard to define or form for another, unless the society values personal choice as to value. Otherwise, utlity ends up being a way to force a particular "form" of virtue upon another. This is a form of co-erciveness in the name of "character training"!

Virtue has to be understood within the context of the individual's values and choice and not an outside "form". Virtue is about innate gifting and development, not controlling another's "outcome". The "outcome" will result whenever there is a focus on the person and their particular personal choice of "ends".

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Fear of God is the Beginning of Wisdom...

The book of Job is one of the oldest books in the Bible. It is located in the books of wisdom. In the book of Job, there is a verse, "The Fear of God is the BEGINNING of WISDOM".

I used to read this verse as, " The Fear of God is the Beginning of wisdom"..

The emphasis on the former is that one has to fear God to even begin to understand. Such are the supernaturalists in their understanding of text and tradition and life, itself!

But, now, I understand that it means fearing "God" is Just the Beginning of Wisdom. Wisdom is practical knowledge about life throught experience, not knowledge about "God" and the supernatural.

This latter understanding is more in line with the original Jewish understanding. Wasn't it Job who suffered under the hands of those who thought they know what "God" wanted, and knew what God was doing in Job's life?

What did Job learn? Didn't Job learn that the whole creation was a mystery and that life was a gift to be lived in the present and be grasped by an awe inspiring worship?

Job's "answer" was not about a "how to", or answers the text has to offer, but life itself.

Life is hard, at times. It behooves all of us to understand that we shouldn't lay undue burdens upon others backs by being like Job's comforters.

(But, for the sake of balance, one cannot live without understanding what they will value, as this is the "stuff" where one's commitments will be. The Supernaturalists just believe that "God" should be their life commitment.)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Another Movie "Under My Belt"aboutf Human Choice/Parallel Universes

Tonight, my husband and I wanted to escape together, but didn't want to battle the crowds that we supposed would be at the local resurants. So, we watched a movie about "Life".

A dying woman and her memories of a past love had burned her heart with regret. The moive kept going back and forth between the aged woman in bed and her two grown daughters and their present struggles to the woman's past life and its struggles.

In her "past life" she'd met a man named "Harris", who she'd fallen in love with at her best friend's wedding. "Fate" did not look down upon their romance as a life long commitment, but a week of making deep memoires that would haunt her on her dying bed. One daughter was intensely interested to find out about "Harris", as her mother mentioned him often upon waking or going to sleep.

One day, the woman's best friend, whose wedding she'd met "Harris", came to visit. The visit was short but the connection was deep and it settled the "haunting" of the dying woman and the curious questions of her daughter. The best friend's advice to the two women, "There are no mistakes in life".

"There are no mistakes in life" is a life based on an understanding of human choice and fallibility within parallel universes. One cannot be outside of "what is/should be". Parallel universes mean that there are many contingent "worlds" that are just as valuable, as another. Human choice at a particular point in time is not evaluated by "wisdom"s fine-tuned experience, but what was of value at a particular point in time.

Particular points in time cannot be evaluated on historical standards, because human choice is a present reality in a particular individual's human development, not an absolute objective of historicizing of life and all that is.

Human choice is necessary for taking individual responsibility. and taking responsibility is about growing up, owning one's life and not blaming others. But, it is also about forgiving oneself and acknowledging human fallibility and fraility. It is knowing that probably could not make another choice, given certain limitations.

I enjoyed the movie in all respects. The story, the acting (Meryl Strep) and the message all were good Valentines for my husband and for myself.

Anger About One's Own Naivete'

Today, a friend from far away called. She and I understand and accept one another because we "know" each other. This is "Human Nature" in relationship. One's way of viewing reality can be different but the ability to tolerate difference is really dependent on one's self development and where one personally chooses to draw their boundaries and what one ultimately thinks is valuable. I think that prejudice cannot be avoided for this very reason.

Today, I was expressing my journey and she picked up my anger and told me that if she didn't know me, she'd think I was angry at HER. She knows me better than that. I understood and confessed that I was really angry at myself. I had made many choices based on what I had understood to be a universal understanding, and it wasn't.

All political dialogue is based on terminology that must be investigated as to definition. Definitions define and reveal assumptions, ends, and ultimately whether values are on the "same page" or not.

Politics has a habit of using such rhetoric and not revealing the underlying assumptions of value. Those that are not educated in critically thinking through whether what is said, is equatable to what is understood. might just be duped into believing that we "all" agree! when we really don't!

I am angry, but I will eventually "get over it", because I am changing my allegiances, and understandings. I am pursuing and investigating. I am just glad to have friends that value me apart from what I believe or don't believe, or what I value as ultimate or not ultimate, because these are true friends, indeed....And true friends are one of life's greatest values, because they support you in your journey in life, no matter where it leads!

Social Problems Have Different Solutions.

Social problems have many different solutions, depending on how one understand and evaluates them. Take for instance homosexuality.

Does one see the homosexual as a human being, first and foremost? Or does one see the value of society's order and structure of primary importance? So, then, it is defined as "sin" or "crime"?

How is homosexuality understood?
As a behavior where the homosexual doesn't deserve equal respect or dignity as to human value?
Why? Because of "sin" or society?

As a abherrant behavior? is this abherrancy something that is something beyond the control of the individual homosexual, like genetic or upbringing?
Or is there a predisposition to this behavior and the individual choice of the homosexual is what makes for morality, as to society's "good"? or is homoseuxality to be the next social change because society's values are really dependent on boundaries around relationships? It is loyalty and stability in relationships that structure and maintain society's order?

The questions about what is "Human Nature" and where the  needs of the human and societal needs and values intersect are important and significant to address, if one wants to allow for liberty of conscience and the value of human choice.

Savings and Spending

I just heard a good analogy about our current "savings" in the present budget being presented before Congress!

If one has a budget of $40,000 to buy a car and you find a car that you'd really like to buy for $60,000. You decide to stick with your original budget and buy the $40, 000 car. When you get home you brag to others about how you saved $20,000. when you've really spent $40, 000. The $20, 000 savings was only because you did not buy what you desired.

An increase in the budget is an increase in the budget. What is spent over and above the previous year, is an increase, NOT a decrease!

I wonder how many Americans think in these terms in our credit driven economy? Savings is spending, because the market is driven by spending.  Instead of looking at one's income and budgeting to escape debt, one looks at what one wants and budgets based on whether one can afford the payments! This is presumption on the future for fiscal conservatives. And when government owns the corporations and decides that spending is really savings because the "corporations is "saved"....or the individual is "saved"....because of government expenditures! Then, the taxpayer's budget is being decided by the government and its demands upon those that have learned to be productive and/or save! Is this just?

On Self Love, and Self Understanding on This Valentine's Day

On this Valentine's Day, I thought I'd share this quote about love by Ayn Rand, "Ayn Rand

‎"To love is to value. Only a rationally selfish man, a man of self-esteem, is capable of love—because he is the only man capable of holding firm, consistent, uncompromising, unbetrayed values. The man who does not value himself, cannot value anything or anyone."
“The Objectivist Ethics,” The Virtue of Selfishness, 32

One must value themselves and their own values, before they can choose freely and be responsible for those commitments of value. Understanding oneself is of necessity to evaluate and proritize, so that one can act responsible and principled. Otherwise, one will be prone to act to "please" without negotiation. One's life will be an enslavement and co-dependency. And it will not be healthy!
So, on this Valentine's Day, "Know Thyself", so that you will be able to stand against those that would want something that you do not want for yourself!

How Can We Support the Deficit?

What is Moral or Responsible about continuing to enlarge our national debt? Do we really believe that responsible choices define moral value and virtue? Then, none of us should support  increases to our national debt!. This is the "ideal" of free societies, otherwise we become enslaved to our debt, which will determine overtly or covertly our policies.

If government continues to undercut private business, while cozying up to large corporations, then, I believe unemployment will continue to increase. And when unemployment increases,  on a large scale, then the practical needs at hand make for "collective demands for justice"! And collective demands for justice means government intervention with social programs that increase individual dependence on government as "provider". Or, such demands for justice means revolution, because human choice has been limited by government's partiality to corporate interests .Isn't this the means of totaltalirinism? The end of revolution is "social order", which won't be promoting human value or choice, unless government gets back to supporting the rule of law. Government will then, be a co-cercive means of controlling human choice and value.

Large corporations base their "need" on utility, which isn't based on the ethical or moral demands of responsible behavior, but what is most expedient to the needs at hand. Profit is the end. While profit is not immoral, it is only a necessary end to "good business". But, when profits outweigh any other considerations, human life becomes a means to the end of justifying enslavement of the employee.

Both profit of corporations, and employee agreement must be based on the interests of both parties, not an undermining of human choice and value.

The Atheist and Moral Virtue

In my last post on the "Church Justifies the Moral Ought", I made a statement that got me thinking along the lines of atheistice morality. The statement was, " Evolution does not grant that life begins at conception, but at choice. Choice is the determinitive "end" of morality. The individual must choose how he will live his life."

Moral choice is the ulitmate value for the atheist. Therefore, the atheist would agree that the child needs superintending influences in his/her life. And the child comes to an age of accountability when he/she has develope the ability to make responsible choices. Responsible choices define "moral virtue".

I would ask, then, what are we responsible for? Are we are responsible for others? Or are we responsible for ourselves? This is where political views about the place of government, law, and society become debates about what "should" define a particular society! This is the level of policy debate. And it is the place of interest for those that want to be good citizens!

The Atheist allows for liberty of conscience regarding diversity of values, if they are consistent with thier value of "moral choice", as being of ultimate value to/for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, for all citizens!

The Church Justifies the Moral Ought

Groups must be identified by their collective goals, or purposes. This is how groups function, otherwise, their is no reason for groups to exist.
 Individuals, on the other hand, don't have to have a reason to exist, as the individual is to be the "end" in himself. The individual  must have the right to life and liberty, otherwise, his life is not his own. He becomes the slave to a "moral oughtness".
Therefore, while groups, such as the Church may demand "moral oughts", they must give room for individual choice, otherwise the "moral ought" has lost any values to it's "moral oughtness". Choice is the determinitive "end" of moral value. The individual must make the choice about moral value, not the Church.

A few posts ago, I wrote on the issue of abortion. I challenged my friend's post about "pro-life" on the basis of evolution. Evolution does not grant that life begins at conception, but at choice. Choice is the determinitive "end" of morality. The individual must choose how he will live his life. Will he obey the laws of his land, as a abiding and peaceful citizen, or will he become a criminal, a renagade? The "pro life" movement says that a person who chooses abortion has "sinned" against God, irregardless of what has been considered lawful according to the Constitution. So, the "Pro-Life Movement" has a "moral demand" over and above the legal requirements of Constitutional government.

Laws are what define moral behavior in a given society. Not every group will adhere to the same standards. But, in a liberal society, choice must be free association of chosen groups that uphold the individuals chosen values. Churches understand "the law" in their doctrines and their standards of behavior that supercede Constitutional government. This helps define the Church over against the Constiutional government..

The conservative church holds to a morality based on deontological ethics, meaning that "God's law" is to be upheld because it is "God's law".  What is considered "good" is what God wills, not good in itself. Humans, then, are ends to "God's will". "Good" is not defined by universal consensus, but by "sacred texts". It is an ethics based "outside of" the individual. It is a moral demand or "oughtness".

On the other hand, virtue and consequential ethics have different values regarding what is good. Virtue ethics, is determined by the individual's character. What is "good" is not an outside form, but an inside agreement as to what is "the good". The virtue ethicist would play out the "inside character" based on whether one believed that there was an objective standard whereby "morality" or "the good" could be judged.

The Church would judge man's character again on an "outside text" or an organizational goal. The individual himself would not be granted moral choice, but demanded to behave according to an approved "standard"! Obedience to that standard of behavior or goal becomes the judgemnt of the individual's character, as to "Christian character". The atheist/agnostic would agree that virtue is within the individual, but would not agree that the standard is determined by "the Church", but on social contract. The individual, himself, must choose his values within a free society, and be allowed to play these out in his life. Character then, is defined by what is "natural" to that particular person.

The social contract forms a society by agreement. The Constitution is the 'standard that the West holds to be of value in maintaining a free society. Constitutional standards are created to protect the society from anarchy or from abuses of power. These are not hierarchal in nature, but are to be "democratic" in intent. Our government is "not sent from above", but granted from below. It is the political sphere where men adhere to the same standards of behavior because this is our cultural value, civilized behavior. Civilized behavior is expected to be ethical, or moral because it regards another's boundary.

Consequentialism would value the end as an ultimate, by whatever means. This position is utilitarian and does not value the human as an ultimate value, but the goal. There are no standards for behavior in this ethical frame. So, while the deontological sees the "moral ought" as ultimate value, isn't this really consequentialist in the Church's view of "ends"? The secular humanist would value the human, not the ends as ultimate value.

God cannot be the ultimate end, because "God" cannot be understood apart from human speculation. And ends, canot be based on what cannot be agreed upon, unless one wants to live under oppressive rule of "Tradition" or Text, as defined by an "outside source".

Virtue of character means that the human being, himself determines his own values and he allows that same liberty to others. The individual chooses to make his life's choices within a free society of free assosiciation, not moral demands of "oughtness". In such a society, there is liberty of conscience, and free debate as to ultimate ends, because each individual chooses his life, as to happiness!

So, I don't value the Church or God as to an end, because the human distinction of choice is dissolved before authoritative demands of obedience of one kind or another. Life must be enjoyed as an offering IF one want to value Chruch or God, at all. Otherwise, life is dissolved of independent value, because life becomes consumed by something "other" or "outside" of life itself. And the individual ceases to "exist" in all practical terms, because he is determined, instead of a Moral Agent.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Review of Eat, Pray and Love, with Julia Roberts

I love movies by Julia Roberts. She plays real life people and she does so, well!

Last night my family watched, "Eat, Love and Pray". The story was about a twenty/thirty something young woman that was seeking to "find herself". The problem was, she had committed to a marriage before she was really ready. She found that her identity was tied up in pleasing her husband and not based real world values, but a futile attempt to "find onself in marriage"! She learned a human lesson that many times ends "empty marriages"; co-dependency.

She eventually asks for a divorce, and ends up seeking her fulfillment with another male companion and a religious identity. Her shallow and under-developed ego grasped onto another relationship and tried to make her own meaning from another's meaning.  Her close friend advises her that her religious identity was another "way of escape "dressed up in different form"! She again, eventually faces the fact that she cannot escape her need to "find her own way". She plans again to escape a "wrong relationship" and made plans to travel to Italy, India and Bali.

In her travels abroad, she learns a new language, experiences the kindness of strangers, who become good friends, that offer her comfort, and a challenge to forgive herself for her failures and not to let her failures hinder her future happiness.

 She eventually meets her match in Bali. This man had raised his boys alone and she was captivated by his tenderness and kindness. But when he finally faces his own fear of "loving again",  she runs for fear of "loosing herself". She has to also face her fear of "love" and acknowledge that loving freely is a choice of value, which is not an enmeshed identity, but a offering of "self" to the other. Her fear of enmeshment was not ungrounded, but needed the challenge of others to help her overcome.

The end of the movie show her taking the challenge of "loving again" and one is left with a sense that this time things will be different. She and he will be free to choose, and live in open dialogue about their needs, fears and visions about their future. This is when love is healthy and of mutual benfit to both parties involved!

I would recommend the movie to anyone that is interested in a journey of  human courage and hope.

America Needs Good Leadership on All Levels of Society

American needs good leadership at all levels of society!
Society is built by social structures that define and maintain the stability of a nation.

The first and foremost need at the most basic level of society is the family. The family is the first formative foundation of citizens. And good parenting meets the basic needs of the child on the emotional level. Without such emotional needs being met, all sorts of social ills transpire that damage society's health!

The next need for good leadership is education, where children, and young adults grow into their full potential. The successful student grows to benefit himself by meeting society's needs. Young adults that have found their personal intersts and values that define thier own purposes and what role they will play in society.

Govenmental leadership is another need for society to flourish. Good government does not oppress by overbearing demands, but allows liberty to be of ultimate value. Liberty to define one's life. Liberty to seek after one's values. And Liberty to make a "Life". Good leaders in government do not lord it over others, by seeking their own interest, but seek to serve the interests of the nation and not just those that have elected them into office, but all citizens.

All these social structures are necessary elements to develop the nation's interests, and help to further the nation's health, but without the emotional needs of the child being met, the nation will suffer the ills that America find in its society. Such ills are limiting to the nation's educational institutons and the government's need for good citizens. We must find a way back to value the child and the family. Otherwise, all the "fine educational institutions and government politicies will be for aught, because the nation's children will not be ready to take the helm of leadership for the future.

America Needs Statesmanship!

America is in need of Statesmanship in today's climate of  volitility!
Statesmanship is the ability to stand on principle, be honest and concerned for the future good of the nation and know how to paint a vision for that future with concern for the opposition's interests. A statesman is able to inspire hope, purpose and vision for the nation and its immediate needs. We have seen too few statesman these days!

Here are some quotes about statesmanship from a Founder, presidents, writers, an economist, and a doctor.

"It is in vain to say that enlightened statesmen will be able to adjust these clashing interests, and render them all subservient to the public good. Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm. Nor, in many cases, can such an adjustment be made at all without taking into view indirect and remote considerations, which will rarely prevail over the immediate interest which one party may find in disregarding the rights of another or the good of the whole.
Posted in James Madison
Tagged enlightened, Federalist No. 10, helm, James Madison, statesmenAuthor: James Madison

Context: Federalist No. 10

Year: 1787

“One man's opportunism is another man's statesmanship”

Milton Friedman quotes (American Economist, b.1912)

“Compromise makes a good umbrella, but a poor roof; it is temporary expedient, often wise in party politics, almost sure to be unwise in statesmanship.”

James Russell Lowell quotes (American Poet, Critic, Essayist, Editor and Diplomat, 1819-1891)

"Science will never be able to reduce the value of a sunset to arithmetic. Nor can it reduce friendship or statesmanship to a formula.”

Dr. Louis Orr quotes

“The essence of statesmanship is not a rigid adherence to the past, but a prudent and probing concern for the future.”

Hubert H. Humphrey quotes

"In statesmanship get the formalities right, never mind about the moralities.”

Mark Twain quotes

"Honest statesmanship is the wise employment of individual manners for the public good”

Abraham Lincoln quotes

Friday, February 11, 2011


Circumspection is needed about the crisis in Egypt right now.
 Israel's intelligence didn't even foresee some of the recent events coming. So, we must not be rash, or too quick to make a judgement or policy about or on Egypt's future. One thing is for sure, this region is volatile and we won't be helping if we seize the day abrudtly. We can only hope that radicals will not take control of this government in the name of peace. But, unfortunately revolutionaries and revolutions have brought about dictators of one kind or another, it seems. Let's hope that it won't be the Muslim Brotherhood.

Upton Sinclair Quote

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

Such is the problem with corrupt, good ole boy systems in government!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Friend's Post on Abortion

I am certainly thinking through the implications of one's political commitments. These are important because they reveal one's values and are important in determining and making decisions about one's life, and the life of the society one wants for oneself and one's family.

On "Using My Liberty", my friend, Mary Diane Goin, challenges those that would lightly abort an "inconvenience". Her argument has been supported by philosophical and biological information that would be applauded by anyone with any sense. She argues that she is a libertarian Christian, meaning that she keeps poitical views about liberty separate from her religious views, when they would impinge upon another human's choice of value concerning their life.

I used to be "Pro-Life", but just recently I am seeking to understand on what basis are rights based, if there is only "nature without God"? Of course, Diane's argument is based on Catholic natural rights/natural law theory. But, if there is no God, how does one argue the right of the unborn? or of anyone? Diane points this out, in her distinction between natural and legal rights. Practically speaking, if there are no legal rights, then there is no real political liberty. And without political liberty, then life isn't really "life", is it, for the born or the unborn!

First, there is the question of how the "Pro Life" movement as a whole has treated those that have had abortions or those going to get abortions at the abortion clinic. It is as if, these girls/women are disregarded and disrespected because in the eyes of the 'Pro Life" movement they don't deserve to exist, because they have broken God's Law against murder. And to top that off, they are murdering an innocent child, a gift of Gd. Some have gone so far to murder the woman or the doctor who was responsible. Others think that "shunning" or shaming will bring about repentance! It reminds me of Jesus' admonition that "he that is without sin, cast the first stone" (altho that story was not in the original sources). People judge others based on what they have been taught is right, and then, like herd animals throw stones at those that "for the grace of God" they'd be"....they do not love mercy, exept for the unborn. .

But, let's back up. First one has to believe that God exists, that he grants natural rights, and that sexual intercourse that results in conception is his Divine intervention, or at least, his means of reproducing the human race. Humans are viewed by such as these as more than animals. Humans are a unique creations of God. He Directly or indirectly CAUSES the conception. This view believes that God intervenes in the affairs of men. One believes that God interevene directly, while the other believes that he intervenes indirectly. So, abortion is first and foremost a "sin" against God and His interevening Providence!

Such believers believe they have a justified right to impose their view on others because they think that God has commanded that "Thou Shalt Not Kill", the abortionists are in danger of God's judgment, either supernaturally or naturally. The Supernaturalist would believe that one will be judged at the "end of time", while the naturalist would believe that God's judgment is in self-condemnation. (There could be a mixture of each as the naturalist could also believe that one would also have to give an account "at the day of reckoning").There is an urgency about getting these women to repent, so they won't face judgment. They see their "moral concern" as "God's concern". They are "God" ambassador's or representatives for the unborn and their rights".

Besides the belief that natural causes are the direct or indirect intervention of God, there is the belief that all natural results of intercourse should be accepted. This is  taking responsibility for one's choice and action. Some of these believe that all contraception is inhibiting the natural course of God's causal intervention,....that is, using the means of sexual intercourse as an end to produce a child. Sexual interourse is viewed first and foremost as precreation, because of the Genesis mandate to "be fruitful and multiply"

Since these are adamantly opposed to contraception because it interferes with nature, and nature is viewed as God's footstool, these believe that chasity is to be promoted for teens. This is the only option, because God doesn't sanction sex outside of marriage. While I agree, I wonder what to do about those teens that aren't going to have the opportunity for a "nice Christian upbringing, or Church influence, or even consider the option of chasity, as this has not been their example or reality. Or possibly there are some that seek so much to be accepted that the compromise their principles to "fit in" or to "be loved". Teenagers are known to be impulsive and idealistic (I won't get pregnant!)

What about those that spread sexually transmitted diseases, or AIDS because condoms are not advised? Is responsibility about society's overall health and how is that gauged? Because divorce rates are impacting society at such great levels, should we legislate against divorce? (Christians are divorced just as often as non-Christians). Christians are still having abortions in great numbers ( my friend had the stats on one of her posts) I think the greatest inhibitor against pre-marital sex is self-respect, not "God's prohibition" and teaching teens about their dignity as persons.

If taking responsibility for one's choices is of value to the "Pro Life" movement, what if one has more children than one can provide for, then what? One believes that "God will provide"! Shouldn't there be a rational budget consideration when planning for children, or is planning children not allowed because that would be usurping "God's place"?  Certainly, most Christians believe that contraception is not forbidden within the marital relationship. But, there might be disagreement about what kind of contraception would be warranted. Doesn't it become a matter of conscience (even before God)?

The arguments from biology are strong, but one only argues from biology if one believe that the universe and all that is is "under God" and is 'his design" and the place where he manifest "his will".

Sex is a natural human desire. I think that there are worse and better ways for humans to view sex within society and to benefit the whole of society. Marriage is to be the norm for relational safety and sexual expression for the sake of society's physical health and the sake of society's children. But, these values have nothing to do with "God, neccsarily. Most people would have these values, for it is a matter of maintaining stability for society. And stability is what makes for a healthy environment.

In conclusion, if one is a Christian, and believes in the orthodox view of God, as interventional  then of course, there would be an affirmation of the "Pro Life" Movement.

Cicero's Quotes and War


Everyone has the obligation to ponder well his own specific traits of character. He must also regulate them adequately and not wonder whether someone else's traits might suit him better. The more definitely his own a man's character is, the better it fits him.

Laws are silent in times of war.

Let your desires be ruled by reason.

The revolution in Egypt is disturbing to many, because such "mob" behavior disturbs peace and assures that "costs far outweigh" initial benefit. One must be sure that the costs will bring benefit to a society, before one considers such hard decisions.
One thing for sure, Cicero believed that one should be discrete in going to war. War should be evaluated based on one's enemies, and whether they are merciful, or barbarian. I think his wisdom still holds sway over our military and its educational institutions. War is never the response of a civilized society, it is a last resort to protect the interests of its citizens, and it interests.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The "Ideal": Is Never "the Real"

Our Founders understood that human nature is what it is, and this fact alone was what made for a great nation. Their structuring of our government was to put men under the rule of law, so that tyranny would not lead the nation, nor barbarianism undermine society's order. But, today, there seems to be another opinion about humans and it is the "ideal of alturism".

Alturism is defined as selfless concern for others. Idealists, whether religious or humanists believe that men can become alturistic, by habit formation. These believe that Aristotle's virtues meet Kant's categorical imperative. But, what does this mean practically in light of our Founders view?

Our Founders view was a realist view, as they understood that men were not to be trusted with power over others, or power within government that was not balanced. They did believe that humans were to be self-governing, that is, not by outside authority, but inside character. And that character is illustrated by the commitments that one values

 Parents were to train their children through every means available so that upcoming citizens would understand the needs of their nation, as well as their personal values of choice in vocation.  American youth can choose where they will go to college and what they will study. There has been no tracking in American education, as a whole.

Because the individual is valued because of liberty, the child is able to develop to his full potential, as well as his understanding of himself in personal interests. The blossoming young adult's identity becomes an ego strength that does not define thesmselves by group identification, or familial determinations, but personal values of choice. These adults can withstand  the diverse responsibilities of adulthood.

 In oppressive societies, there is an overintending authority that superintends the child's life, as well as the adult's. Ego development is not the goal of such governments, but a denial of indiviudality and liberty of choice, value and conscience. These forms of government believe that power is needed for social order to be maintained and their amibitions to be accomplished.

Unfortuately, our "free society" has also undermined the foundations that are needed for children to grow into independent adulthood. Our society is fraught with social ills of divorce, child negligence, poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic abuse, and educational needs. These social ills affect the "ideals" that our Founders envisioned and inhibits societal flourishing. The problem becomes what to do about it.

Good government that allows liberty to develop is first and foremost, but the needs of the individual child is also important to value. Liberty cannot undermine society's need for stability, which social structures of marriage and  family bring. We are in a crisis in America because the family is broken and there is no way to make it work. Many families are over-stressed by various commitments that are not easily dismissed. A father/mother is still responsible to their employer and must meet their demands. But, these demands also undermine family time and the child's need for a secure and safe place.

The needs of our society are not the "idealist" dreams and hopes, of happily ever afters, or in oppressive means of training citizens through outside authoritarianism, but real world problems and needs that aren't easily addressed by government or life in modern society. 

Social ills should not undermine America's ideal of liberty, otherwise we will become pawns of a moralistic totaltalitarinism that would inhibit our very "way of life", in the name of the "common good" or "public interest"!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Prejuidice Confirmed

Just recently, I saw on FaceBook that two biblical/theological scholars were to be visiting an area where I knew a "friend". I was amazed that these internationally known scholars would be visiting this small town. I decided to inform my "friend", so she might see them. I thought that the information that she would be exposed to might break the "wall" that hindered her from considering "real life".

This friend is a fundamentalist and she teaches numerous bible studies and holds authority over many minds in this town. I thought that being educated by those who have made their life's commitment to her value of "text" would be interesting for her and her "hobby".

When I told her about the event. She said she didn't want to consider it. Why, I asked? She stated that another friend had attended events supported by this particular lay group and she viewed these scholars as "liberals, besides the fact that those in this lay movement were the elite in this town"! When I tried to defend them, and suggest that maybe it would be of interest for her to just listen and consider what these people were saying, she refused!!!

I am not surprised since she had already been biased by her other friend. And this both friends do not value "open minded" discussion, education, intellectual challenges. In fact, in the past, when I have off-handedly offered "information" that I had learned, she would just state that she wasn't called to teach the "educated", or those that needed such information. (i.e., everyone was comfortable in their "imaginations" and their understandings of "truth". Why bother them?). Just as well, it confirmed to me that some people think that learning something that might challenge their assumptions, which would undermine their "self" or "ego". Their very identificaton is in how they understand the text.

Yes, why bother people with information that might make them uncomfortable? Would it change their life commmitments or decisions? I think so, as many of them have based their lives on what they deemed as "truth". And it might have limited them in thier choices and their understanding of values. But, will such as these change? I don't think so, not unless they themselves see value in learning, understanding or education, itself. But, then, I probably won't change my commitment to learn think,, challenge and provoke.

When the Egoist Is Challenged By Virtue

The Egoist believes that "self interest" is an end, as he is a end in himself. But, what if the Egoist is challenged by virtue?. That is, the needs of the community, the world or the "other".

This is when the Egoist must grapple with his own priorities, life values and goals. It is when the Egoist is approached by another with a proposition. The Egoist understands that it is his right to consider the proposition or reject it outright. This is the basis of social contract and business ethics.

The Categorial Imperative and the Golden Rule is an "ideal", but the real world does not work on these values, principles or ideals. And our Founers knew this. This was why they balanced power between the branches of government. And it is also the basis of upright dealing in business. Full access to what is expected and required in a givern job is the basis of "life's" stability. It is the basis of transparency in government. And the basis of a free society. Government is not to intrude into the private lives of the individual and make demands. Individual have the right to challenge such investigations and intrustion into their life by "Big Brother", or moral busybodies!

The whole basis of Obamacare is based on the assumption that people are entitled to certain guaruntees. The government is to guaruntee in a positive way those that are less fortunate. Others disagree. These believe that the individual must have the priority of choosing about his life and this is based on a limited government, not the positive rights of government.

We must not be ignorant of how totaltalitarian governments gain ground and footholds in society. Or we will be paying the price of that ignorance. We must not allow or ignore such behavior that is disrepectful and dishonoring of "The People"!

The I-It in Ethics

Philosophers have had quandaries on what to value and what is of value. Ayn Rand values the individual, and liberty, and capitalism, as a outgrow of that position (at least from what I understand/know now about her philosophy). Her philosophy is called Objectivism. Its morality is based in Ethical Egosim. Self interest is of value in itself, as it is the limiting of collective demands.

Ethical Egoism is in opposition to virtue based ethics, which would value moral obligation or moral duty. And virtue based ethics is based on societal value, as an end, not the indivdiual themself as an end! This means that the individual's life is of no value apart from its utility or function within society. Human rights is based on individual value or personhood. Virtue Ethics is based on  moral examples, heroes, etc. It is not based on self-interest, but individual sacrifice. It is a Jesus as "moral model" example mode of life.

But, just as I would not want to be treated as an "It" or the commodity to meet someone else's "need" or a function of society, as evaluated by some "leader (ship)", I do not think we should treat others as "ITs" or means to our ends, as this devalues individual life, as well!

So, though I don't know much about ethics, per se, ethics was what got me to change my major from sociology to religion/philosophy. And I believe firmly that the individual, his life, and his values are ultimate ends in themself. Just as well, I do not believe that we can live in the world as an "island", without considering "the other" as a person, or society as a value. The other also has  interests, life values, and pursuits. So, I would not want to treat the other "I", as a means, or an "It". Isn't that virtue? It is the basis of the Golden Rule, or the Categorical Imperative, isn't it?

Our government is the best form, as it allows for the indivdual Egoist, as well as the Virtue based ethicist. Our society values the individual, which promotes societal flourishing, as that particular individual pursues their "self-interest". And isn't society about the I-Thou relationship? The social contract agreement of  equal protections under law?

The Difference Between the Philosophical and the Religious?

I read an interesting analysis in a comment to Ayn Rand's point of view on her web-stie, that got me thinking. Martin Buber said that religion is an I-Thou relationship, while philosophy is an I-It relationship! I still pondering this, but my first thoughts are......

Religion is not idea oriented? No, this is what theology is, philosophy "annointed" by and in the institituion of the Church. It is for the purposes of the Church.

Philosophy proper is an I-It relationship, meaning that the idea/subject itself is of interest and value, not the institution of the Church, necessarily. Philosophy serves the interests of society and individuals and is understood within certain disciplines of interests.

Therefore, philosophy is of wider and broader value to society, if one values reason. But, religion is of value and interest if one values tradition/text. Human experience is much broader than text or tradition, this is why I would commit to philosophy above religion.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Ayn Rand on Her Philosophy


“My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.”
A Representative democracy/Republic is the only way that this philosophy can be valued, as it allows for liberty, diversity and individuality!


Ayn Rand

‎"If devotion to truth is the hallmark of morality, then there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking."
Galt’s Speech, For the New Intellectual, 127

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Can All We Have Be Faith?

Today's sermon was about faith in the "unseen". The scripture about the blind man being healed by Jesus was the text. The pastor's premise was that belief in the unseen world of "God" will help you "see" the unseen realities of "God".  This is faith. Indeed, it does take faith, so what does that mean? It predominately means that one bases their understanding of life and all that is on faith's premises of "text and/or tradition".

All humans have reason, but not all of us use our reasoning capacity in the same way. Those that believe based on "faith's claims" either must use their reasoning abilities to believe in Aristotle's God of the past. God is the First Cause. And even, if one suggests that God is not the first Cause, but that "God'" superintends evolution, one is still believing in a "god" outside the sphere of human reality. Then,, there are those that believe that "god is present within reality itself". Natural causes, such as man's choices are irrevocably "God's design", because God oversees the choices men make to "work all things out together for good", for those "called according to his purpose".  One still has to interpret experience by "faith" in the text and/or tradition, confining reason to an "inside' group mentality. This is called God's foreknowledge. God understands the evil choices that men will make and somehow that becomes "his will". We are to submit and obey to all circumstances, for this is the "will of God in Christ Jesus, concerning you"! (I wonder what leadership does, then? Sit back, trust "god", and obey? No, they are the ones accountable for making policy that plays into life. And leaders that do so to restrict another liberty are tyrannical.) This is why men and "god" cannot be above the law Our Constitution defines good government where each human is valued and has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Good governmen, as well as good leadership allows for individual liberty and choice of value. Good government is based on the consent of the governed.

The Text is not a supernatural "Gift that fell From heaven", but a human testimony of experience/belief. And these beliefs were based on an ancient paradigm, not a modern scientific understanding. But, just as much as the Text is not "supernatural", neither is Tradition Tradition is really history about the social and political context that formed the scripture/text itself. Church history is also within the context of a larger context of world history. Tradition is a specified history, based on the social/political history of the Church.

Faith-based reasoning isn't justifiable except to those that believe, because of its group mentality, and/or irrational claims of faith. Faith becomes only defined by one's choice of commitment of value. Does one find a faith community of benefit to one's life journey? If so, these faith communities will define one's faith for you. This is how the Protestant denominations have worked, even though Protestantism was resistance to defining authority. As the Protestant faith is a foundational principle to America's understanding of religion, America does not allow the State to sancton one faith above another. Some may not choose to value a faith communities' defining faith. And these will find themselves as "outliers" to faith communities. Some of the Founding Fathers were "outliers" to orthodox Christian faith and America was to be tolerant toward such faith/beliefs.

Those that use reason to justify faith are apologists. These use their reason to justify faith claims about "God's intervention" in the world, or "God", as the world. One takes God as the over-seer, while the other sees "god" as the world, itself. One focuses on a supernatural God, while the other focuses on a natural God; the God of the philosophers.

It is very dangerous to believe that one's faith is absolute, because faith is context specific (denomination or religion). Therefore,good government cannot be based on "faith claims", because then, government would have to sanction a certain specified faith, which our First Amendment forbids. We became a country that had no allegience to one size fits all "faith". America believes in the indivdiual's right of choice about that value. And America also defends those that don't have that value, just as well!

Our pastor ended his sermon by suggesting that when one was at work and chose to talk about the "Tea Party" movement to use biblical or religious language! I thought that this sleight of hand was a way for him to gain the Christian Right's attention to religious ideals and values of the "religious left", instead of economic, democratic, and political values of capitalism.

Our government and the West in general believes that individuals have a right to disagree and be a part of the political process. How does one see government and the individual? Is government to have positive liberties and rights, or is the individual to have these positive rights? Is government to be understood to only have negative liberties and rights, or is the individual to only have negative liberties and rights? Our Founders believed in limited government. That is negative liberties and rights. This is the basis of Constitutional balance of power. One cannot have a government based on government power, otherwise, those governing have all the power, while the people are pawns to government dictates.  This is a dangerous position because such thinking leaves room for radical liberal ideologues to gain power in our government without any question from the Right. We must maintain the balancing of views so that our government will not be run without accountability to "the other side". Otherwise, our governemnt will be defined by a "one size fits all" and such governing would be tyrannical to those that disagree!

Irregardless of what the pastor said today, the political realm is the real world and whether one believes in god or not, one must live in and under the type of government that exists in/over one's society.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tally's Folly, Fears Addressed

Tonight, we went to see "Tally's Folly"'. Interesting story line about a couple that had had a romance the previous summer and the girl, Sally, gets "cold feet".

The boy, Matt, has decided to face his fears and risk rejection, while Sally can't help but feel compelled to reject him first.

Matt confronts Sally about her fears and confesses his own, telling of his experience of rejection as a Lithuanian Jew. He suggests that the answer lies in breaking apart their "shells", so that communication and intimacy might occur.

In the end, Sally admits that she, too, had been rejected. Rejection had caused her fears. But, fear came from social/ psychological circumstances. She had been engaged and then rejected by her fiance' and his family. She had gotten sick and could no longer have children. Her own family had become disenchanted with her, due to their loss of status and her prolonged singleness.

Two lovers at odds because one suffered from political scars, while the other suffered psychological scars. Both came to their senses in the end and I'm sure lived "happily ever after".

The End!

Conclusion of The Good Is Really The Bad

The conclusion of the Good Is Really the Bad;

My Ego (The Good) where my real life, real world, and decision making commitments of value has been "told" by my "Super-Ego" (Relgious conscience) my desires are Bad! And because of that "condemnation" I don't care for religion!

Re-Defining The Good,The Bad and The Ugly

In light of a recent comment from an atheist, I wanted to re-define my recent blog post by this title (The Good The Bad and The Ugly. This entry will be a personal analysis of myself based on Freud's theory of "the Id, the Ego and the Super-Ego".

The Bad is my Id. The Id's desire, hopes and dreams were not to be realized, as my undeveloped Ego had been whipped into place by the "Super-Ego" (parental authority, which was the Ugly). It was reasonable under the circumstances. My step-father was not ready to get married, with a child whose only security was her grandfather's love and was hyperactive to boot. He was a Marine and had also had a difficult up-bringing.

My childish "Id" was harshly disicplined by a step-father who didn't understand his step-daughter and was too stressed from work and making ends meet to learn what my childish heart wanted. He was seeking to be responsible for my mother, me and my soon to be born half-brother. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to develop any relationship, as I moved back in with my grandparents only after living with him 4 years.

The move to another state was an abrupt one for me, who was beginning school that year. I had lost my sense of bearing and my childish heart was stripped of the security of my grandfather's love, the house I knew and my friends from church.

I remember going to school that first day with my mother and there was a little girl crying. I tried to comfort her, as I, myself, was feeling most insecure. I found some friends down the road that I played with regularly and my brother also became of instant intrigue and interest. But, I was not happy. I wanted to be with my grandparents, but also didn't want to make my mother unhappy. I was torn all my life by these conflicting desires. So, my "real world" never was my "ideal one". This is the Bad.

The Good was my developing Ego. I didn't know all my life that I was of value or worth anyone's special attention. I thought that I was a mistake, as my parent divorced and so the existential message was a nihlistic one.

My teen years were a struggle to prove I was loveable. That struggle has gone on until recently. I was always seeking a "special relationship" that would value me, where I would be "the One" and could come to know "family". Then, I became a "Christian".

A Chrisitan meant that I was valued. I had a "isntant family", who was to love and accept me "just as I am". That had never happened before. During that early Christian commitment, I met a young man that I fell deeply in love with. He had a stable family life in a small town as a doctor's son. He encouraged me in my ability to learn. I had such a low self-concept that I used to cry after "our group" would talk about "intellectual things". But, he kept encouraging me and so, I went back to school, making good grades, I became more confident. My helpless Ego was beginning to grow. This is the Good.

He eventually proposed and I thought that we would "live happily ever after", until he went home to tell his family. His mother was adamantly opposed to our engagment. He tried numerous times to talk with her, but to no avail. She was convinced that I was not "good enough" for her son. I broke up thinking it was making him miserable, though his brother had offered support. His little sister was not going to be allowed to be in our wedding. I couldn't stand to see him suffer and I certainly didn't think this was a beginning of a happily ever after! I was crushed and devastated. This was Ugly. Social status had a undermining effect upon my Ego;s developing confidence.

I continued in school and just aroung the corner a man I'd met and be-friended 5 years prior, who was aware of my relational difficulties became more than a friend. He eventually proposed and promised that I would finish school when we moved to our first place after we married. But, unfortunately, I could not continue my education because we couldn't afford it with "out of state" costs and his post-doctoral salary! So, we decided to wait for a year and I'd go back when I'd gained residency status. Then, I became pregnant with our first child and decied to wait to go back to school. This is the Good.

We moved after the following year when our daughter was only a few weeks old. And my husband went off to training, while I moved back "home". During that time at home, I wanted so much to have my daughter to have what I didn't a stable, loving and extended family! So, I sought to perform (my Super-Ego superintending my Ego), hoping to win my family's love and approval for my daughter. I did not realize that I was settting myself back to earning my way to another's heart. This is not healthy Ego development. This is the Bad and the Ugly..

To make a long story shorter, I was still seeking that "happily ever after" where I would have a loving and supportive extended family for my children, when we moved to another location. The Ugly is that religious culture can be damning to those that aren't tuned to those cultural norms and values.This was another "Super-Ego" time where performance bantered my Ego's desire for normalcy and not radicalization of life.

Then, my husband and I moved to D.C. for a year's fellowship with the State Department. During that time, i was to be working on a Master's degree on "moral development". What I learned and experienced shook everything my Ego was based on, that is an evangelical faith. I found myself re-thinking my commitments of value and this was a turning point away from a fundamentalist understanding of faith. I was learning so many things that it thrilled me and changed my life forever. This was the Good.

I think that I split during this time where I didn't want to define my life on narrowed values because of the over-bearing nature of them. My Ego was much too important for me to give in to the demands of the Super Ego. Moralization of life is not a life of liberty and what I realized that our government was for liberty of human value. I had found a secular correlation of human value to my intial understanding of human value in my religious frame. I then, started to question of what value is religion if it oppresses the Ego? And one lives their life separated from 'reality'?. This was the conflict of the Good and the Ugly.

Today, I think that my Ego, while not fully developed is strong to resist over-bearing demands of religious claims and parental images. In a free society, one can choose and determine one's life ultimate values, goals and purposes. So, I fight to know what interests me and there are many things of value to pursue. It will all be a matter of decision and commitment.

 I know I will always pursue a life of learning because I value human knowledge. And I will always pursue family and friends, because without these supports life's commitments aren't celebrated!