Thursday, January 27, 2011

Respect your instincts

One day when I was 16 years old, I got curious about the cigarettes that a friend had begun smoking out of habit. I asked if I could try one. “Sure,” he said, handing one over, helping me light it and giving a quick demonstration of how to inhale.

My lungs rebelled immediately, and by the time I was halfway through my head ached and my stomach was turning. I extinguished the cigarette and never considered tobacco again.

When I first got out of college, I vowed never to buy anything on debt except a house and perhaps a car. It struck me that if I bought something on credit, a $100 purchase would end up costing me $120 or $180 or more depending on the interest rate and how long I took to pay it off. But I found myself unable (or unwilling?) to establish a substantial savings account. After a year or so, I bought a new stereo system on an 18-month plan.

That felt so painless that I took out a credit card, for “big” items only, of course.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Sacred and the Lore of Attraction

My commute material last week included the audiobook of The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. I had a few concerns about the book, which were partially addressed in the book There is More to the Secret by Ed Gungor, which I read over the weekend.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Freedom is not for the faint of heart

You are free to shout "fire" in a crowded theater. All you have to do is be prepared to accept the consequences — for example, time in jail or prison, and/or civil suits by people injured in the ensuing panic, or their survivors.

You are free to blame a madman's actions on your political adversaries. All you have to do is be prepared to accept the consequences — for example, looking like a damn fool when the madman's friends confirm he was apolitical and paid no attention to your adversaries.

Freedom comes with responsibility, accountability for your words and actions. It's not always easy to speak your mind publicly, because just as you have every right to express your views, those who hear have every right to offer their opinions in response. Sometimes other people's opinions of yours won't be pleasant.

Never mind what Big Brother said, freedom is the opposite of slavery. The solution to foolish or angry words is a reasoned response. The solution is not silencing the foolish or angry speaker by the force of new law – and the solution is certainly not violence. Not ever.

Freedom is not for the faint of heart. Freedom of speech means sometimes we will hear things we'd rather not hear. Stupid and/or evil folks will abuse freedom, and you can count on that. But the actions of a few do not justify stealing freedom from the many.

Freedom is not a gift of government. You were born with certain, inherent rights. Governments are formed to secure these rights, not create them. The most tyrannical government cannot remove these rights, although (as governments are designed to do) it may impede the exercise of freedom, and often does.

Freedom is the default mode of a human being. We relinquish our freedoms at our own peril. Think hard before you advocate for restricting any of them.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

They hate our freedoms

In the aftermath of the unspeakable incidents Sept. 11, 2001, in New York City and elsewhere, many people said the terrorists did what they did because they hate America’s freedoms.

In the aftermath of the horrific incident Saturday in Tucson, Ariz., it’s a bit disheartening to see the extent to which Americans hate America’s freedoms.

Rather than place the blame for the deaths of six people and the wounding of 12 others where it belongs — in the hands of a deranged individual — politicians and pundits have blamed instead the increasingly nasty tone of political discourse in this country, or the availability of guns.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Thoughts on the opening of the 112th Congress

The new governor of Wisconsin raised some eyebrows the other day with something noncontroversial that he said during his inauguration speech.

Gov. Scott Walker said, among other things, “Our rights as free people are given by our creator, not the government. Among these rights is the right to nurture our freedom and vitality through limited government.”

Some made a small fuss about the insertion of a supernatural creator into a secular event. They had little recourse, seeing as Walker was quoting from the Wisconsin Constitution when he talked about being “grateful to almighty God for our freedom.”

For centuries and even millennia, humanity has operated on the presumption that some people are better than others, that common people are born to serve superior people, and that the kindest superior people bestow freedoms on commoners who find favor with them.

In 1776 the Founders of the United States of America turned this notion on its head, declaring that we are born free.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Opening the book on a new year

Lyrics to a little ditty I wrote back in the day ...

Live Till You Die

Nobody said that it would be easy,
Everyone said it could not be done,
But nobody said it would not be worth it,
So go for it now — you've only just begun.

There's no shame in failing before the end comes.
While there's life, there is hope, there's a seed.
It's better to try, give it all that you have,
Than attempt to do nothing and succeed.

There's just too many people out there
Not caring if they live or die
There's just so much to find out there —
You can't laugh if you're afraid to cry.

So this is my plea: Live till you die.
There's no reason you should give up now.
Tomorrow's a blank page to write what you wish —
The rising sun will show you how.

Cross posted to Uncle Warren's Attic