As an officer in the United States Air Force I defended more than an idea. I defended more than a way of life. I defended more than a nation. I defended individual people. And I believe that my experience qualifies me as an expert on defense–at least of individual people. The following is one particular defense tip for daily use.
The national politicians are going to use whatever words they believe will help gain and retain their power. But you and I are not national politicians, so our game is different. Our goal is not obtaining power, it is encouraging people to think for themselves. Our goal is encouraging people to become individuals.
Last night, I heard what I’m beginning to hear more and more as the election nears.
“I agree that Russia and Venezuela are bad socialism. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the good socialism–like Sweden and Norway.”
Now, on the national level, President Trump has declared, “America will never become Socialist,” while his opponents respond, “Yes, I am, in fact, socialist. It is the best way.”
(Again, you and I are not national politicians or pundits. Stay in reality.)
At this point, I could have (and shamefully began to, until I quickly retreated) discussed socialism with this individual. That never works. Never. Instead, I volunteered, “The government should not be able to take my money. It is my money. Not theirs.”
As any good socialist would respond, he said, “They’re not going to take your money. They’re going to take the rich people’s money.”
I must have gotten a look that said, “What if I become rich?” because the man, while not instantaneously converting to truth, seemed to realize the immorality of his suggestion (that someone besides me gets to have my money) and we paused the discussion.
To recap: Unsuccessful defenses of the individual include, “Have you read what socialism is?” “We are not Sweden.” “Socialism is always evil.” “There is no such thing as ‘good’ socialism.”
Successful defenses of the individual include, “The government should not be able to take my money.” And, “Gas tax and tolls (the answer to his additional clarifying query, “How do we pay for roads?”).”
Side A: More gun control in some form or fashion.
Side B: The only gun control they’ll respect is repealing the 2nd Amendment–but then they’ll secede.
Sounds crazy, no?
Whether crazy or not, that Side A must advocate nothing less than ‘repeal’ is so obvious to me that I cannot see any other way. I almost want to lead the charge to repeal just to show them how it is done. Isn’t that what Side A wants? If not, if you’re on Side A, please do explain why you don’t want to repeal. I cannot understand how anything less than a repeal accomplishes what you want.
As a reminder, here is the opening of the Declaration of Independence:
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
While I have your attention, do be sure to read Stevenson’s Kidnapped. Alan Breck may just be my favorite character ever.
Okay, here’s how this review works. I describe the opening of the video, then I use a few lines from The Black Arrow to express my critical thoughts.
The Good Hope was, at that moment, trembling on the summit of a swell. She subsided, with sickening velocity, upon the farther side. A wave, like a great black bulwark, hove immediately in front of her; and, with a staggering blow, she plunged headforemost through that liquid hill. The green water passed right over her from stem to stern, as high as a man’s knees; the sprays ran higher than the mast; and she rose again upon the other side, with an appalling, tremulous indecision, like a beast that has been deadly wounded…
“Bootless, my master, bootless,” said the steersman, peering forward through the dark. “We come every moment somewhat clearer of these sandbanks; with every moment, then, the sea packeth upon us heavier, and for all these whimperers they will presently be on their backs. For, my master, ’tis a right mystery, but true, there never yet was a bad man that was a good shipman. None but the honest and the bold can endure me this tossing of a ship.”
It’s Friday. I have the day off, and I need to get back to my study of the ancient people of Ugarit and their wedgy language. Before I do, I want to formally share my thoughts on the school shootings. I believe they are worth repeating.
I believe the school shootings, beginning when I was a senior in high school and continuing to this day, raise the issue of whether man’s creation and use of two atomic bombs has fundamentally altered the status of arms in the United States of America.
To understand how I can see this as the issue raised by school shootings requires me to explain that I believe the natural state of man is chaos. I believe that the manner with which we take a break from the chaos is “the law.” I believe that “the law” is the act of giving up freedom in order to obtain freedom. Philosophically, I believe the U.S. Constitution without the Bill of Rights (of course this document is not real–this is merely philosophical discussion) is “the law.” I believe the similarly-standing-alone-for-philosophical-explanation-only Bill of Rights is the rebuttal which declares preference for life in the pre-law, chaotic, and natural state of man in certain particular areas of life–being in our specific case: arms. Kind of a two-sides of the same coin thing, which itself manifests to the rest of the world the proud and distinct self-understanding of our people.
So that’s what I believe to be the issue raised by the shootings.
Here you’ll see again my solution to this issue, the real issue, the only issue, the issue that you have been up to now unable to say or write because you do not think for yourself, which is to add (second amendment stays) the following amendment to the U.S. Constitution, “Amendment XXVIII: In time of peace, Arms shall no longer be secured by the people.”
How tolerant are you? I think I’m very tolerant, but I’m pretty sure I would be viewed by most Americans as being very intolerant. Here’s a litmus test for tolerance that I think is worth considering.
Last week we explored Islam and Allah. The biggest take away was that Allah is not the personal name of Islam’s god. Allah is merely the Arabic word for God.
In the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag, there is a line that declares, “One Nation, Under God”.
My tolerance test for you is the following question. Are you tolerant enough to show the refugees that we love and welcome them by changing the pledge to declare, “One Nation, Under Allah”? After all, Allah is just the Arabic word for God.
Or how about when the president closes his national addresses with the phrase, “God Bless America.” Are you tolerant enough to not voice an objection if he were to say, “Allah Bless America”?
My main man when it comes to movie reviews is Bill Gibron. Back around the time that the internet first came to be there was a website called filmcritic.com. I discovered him there, I think. Anyhow, I have always appreciated his reviews and found them to be helpful in deciding whether or not to shell out the big bucks for a movie ticket. Over time I have noticed that he has had a particular love affair with Darren Aronofsky. Because of my esteem of Mr. Gibron, I have desperately sought the same love affair, but never quite saw the “genius” that Mr. Gibron did. I really enjoyed Mr. Aronofsky’s films, I just didn’t fall in love with the man like Mr. Gibron seemed to. All that has changed.
H- just began to learn Peter Tchaikovsky’s epic Swan Lake theme on the piano. It is a force of nature even when played with just one note at a time. In any case, this event taken together with a real desire to give Mr. Gibron’s passion one more go led to me viewing Black Swan for a second time. This time around I finally see the genius. Black Swan is the story of a ballet dancer who is trying to be the best as would be indicated by her dancing the role of the swan queen in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake in some hot shot’s revision of Swan Lake. So it’s a movie about a revision of a very famous ballet that includes themes of sacrifice and pressure to perform etc. But it’s not! It, Black Swan itself, is the revision of Swan Lake for movie-going audiences! And that’s why Mr. Aronofsky is a genius and deserves our attention. He cuts through all our defenses and serves up Tchaikovsky’s timeless story in a new way that forces us to reckon with all of our notions of love and happiness and truth and sacrifice. It’s an amazing film. Watch it. Watch it again.
Perhaps some of you think I am too hard on public school teachers. Here’s something to consider. A public school teacher with an amazing (if any divorce blog can attain such a title) blog mentioned that she finds herself teaching “frustration management” to her students. At this point, I would like to call my roughneck friends to the discussion. You see, when I was working in the oil fields, there was work to be done. Manly work. And yes, I mean that in the gender specific way. Work that men and only men can accomplish. For instance, every time we finished drilling a well, we had to move the rig to a new well. One of the things that this move required was the tightening of nuts onto bolts. The nuts were about the size of a woman’s fist, and the bolts were just over a foot long. The way we tightened these nuts was by swinging a sledge hammer as hard as we possibly could against a hammer wrench which was placed around the nut. Out of a twelve hour shift, how many minutes do you think we were given to not swinging the sledge hammer in favor of discussing how to deal with how frustrating the task was?
Do not hear me say that learning is not frustrating. And remember that I am the one who quit being a “teacher” because I refused to buy into the “be the change” mantra that schools with poor performing students chant. Instead, hear me calling public school teachers to realize that they are making the weather that they are complaining about. No other group–no other group–who controls their destiny does it in such a poor fashion as public school teachers. That’s what frustrates me (and I think most non-public educators).
By way of example, guess which specialty runs the Air Force? Pilots. Guess what pilots do for each other in the Air Force? Take care of each other. They ensure the flying is safe and smart and everyone is compensated well. Public school teachers, on the other hand, cite chapter and verse about all the limitations and massive time requirements etc. that they have to operate within and never once consider that just like Air Force pilots they are the one’s who write the book. Spending time teaching kids how to deal with the fact that learning takes effort? That cannot but be a disservice to the child–and I think teachers know that. So stop doing it. Kids need to learn to hit the hammer wrench as hard as they can and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment after the task is completed and completed well. And the only way to learn this is for teachers to tell the kids that the nuts must be tightened by a sledge hammer. As it stands, the only thing kids are learning is that the nuts don’t need to be tightened. Maybe teachers agree.
A text from my brother last weekend informed me both that Europe had recently been terrorized and that three (point seven) million people demonstrated unity in and around Paris. My thoughts were “no surprise” and “that’s seems pretty remarkable” in that order. Honestly, as you can tell by there being no post released this morning, the show of unity has actually rendered me speechless. (Mon and Tues were kinda already developed over the weekend). I’d love to comment on such a big event. But there didn’t seem to be anything to say. It seemed awesome that that many people gathered together. When was the last time that many people got together? I want to say the million man march way back when claimed a million, but it’s always hard to count. Several other marches here have attempted to gather a million people, but they never succeed. One million people is a lot of people in the same place.
But here’s the thing. I don’t think any relatives of terrorists were in that show of unity. Were any parents of terrorists there? Or sibilngs? Or first cousins? Second cousins? How about their children or wives, did any of them show up?
I want to talk about America. There are three hundred sixty million Americans. Subtract the approximately seventeen million college students and their professors who believe the terrorists may have a point, and that leaves three hundred forty million Americans walking the streets in unity against terrorism daily. Does anyone really doubt our resolve? Where’s that headline? Where’s that photo op?
Moreover, the United States’ active duty military numbers over one million men and women. And these people are serious. They don’t march down streets of peaceful cities lined with world-renowned architecture. They walk down dirt roads lined with IEDs. It’s easy to let piecemeal news stories about a couple fuck-ups ruin the larger organization’s image, but honestly the only image that counts is the one that includes American men and women serving this country today, American men and women who put their family through hell and risk their own lives near daily, American men and women who volunteer to do this because they were born (or fought their way) into a country that knows its way of life is better and worth sacrifices, American men and women who are constantly setting higher standards of honor, respect, service, integrity, excellence, decency, dignity, and a whole host of other virtues unlike any of their armed predecessors, American men and women who travel away from their neck of the woods to yours because you can’t get your shit together.
So yeah. It was neat that over three million Europeans went to the park. But when are you going to impress me?