I love reading. I love opinions. I couldn’t stop perusing the pundits even if I wanted to. But I am certain that the conservatives are only embarrassing themselves. If I read the word tyranny one more time, or dictator, I think I’m going to throw up. The problem we, the conservatives, face is not hard to understand.
The problem—THE PROBLEM—is that smack dab in between me and my political wishes sits the fact that I don’t want to fight a war. Nobody, no one, has yet been able to provoke me to war. I (one flag waving, freedom loving, song singing American conservative) think war in America is likely. I definitely know it’s possible. But I don’t want to do it. I wanted to do it when I was young, and I did do it. So I can speak truthfully and announce the fairly obvious, though often unsaid, observation with certitude that I don’t fight in a war now because I don’t want to. Nevertheless, I believe that war is the only political voice that the left will hear. My private inclination changes nothing.
One reason that I don’t want war is that I’m not yet able to imagine what war will look like. Will the stores still be open? And what will determine which kinds? Restaurants? What about gas stations? Why will the power company employees still show up to work but not the waitstaff? How soon will I regret the decision? These and more nag at me.
But I feel closer to the picture now than I ever have been in the past. (And I’ve even seen first world vs. Old Testament world combat.) It’s like I can begin to make out some early broad strokes. There are blurry scenes in which masked mobs will firebomb residences of their enemies, in the middle of the night. Are those lights iPhone screens? Hard to imagine people holding a camera and weapon, but maybe. It’s like I know I’m in an art gallery, but I can’t see any paintings yet. So I keep walking.
Anyhow, I’m not there yet. This is no call for war. But this is a call for them to stop. I’m talking about the conservative press, the replacement media, heck, even some articles on the Babylon Bee. Stop pretending that there is an argument to be won. Stop. It’s been two uninteresting decades of reading your veiled, dire, and dark words, forecasting a veiled, dire, and dark— but avoidable—future, written as if you really believe that your words just might save us, as if you really believe that there is a peaceful restoration of rule of law and, as importantly, use of reason.
The reason I know I’m right is, as you know, after all these years I finally read John Locke. I’m telling you that man didn’t just make sense, he didn’t just use reason, he incited war.
What have you all incited? An echo chamber? Getting 70 million people to warn each other of the dangers of tyranny in the 21st century is not exactly a formidable accomplishment. The reason I write is not to be repeated, but because no one else is telling you the truth. You’re words are not powerful. They’re not. So stop. Or do better.
How to stop? Admit when your words are empty.
Action. That’s the only path towards the goal. Admit it. Who’s gonna do it? Which one of you is going to infuse their words with power? Who’s going to incite the war? Limbaugh? Prager? Shapiro? Fast rising Candace? Na. I don’t see any guts. Plenty of ambition, brainpower, recall, and in touch lexical choices, but no guts. Address the problem.
If you’re not doing that, then you’re wasting your time. Worse—you’re lying. Because the conservative aims are bought with blood. To suggest otherwise is simply lying. There’s no way around it.
If you’re not going to make me feel, if you’re not going to make me war, then stop. You’re embarrassing yourselves.
I’ve moved on to, Travels Into Several Remote Nations of the World by Lemuel Gulliver, by Jonathan Swift (known more popularly as, “Gulliver’s Travels”), but before I forget, I wanted to record my concluding thought on the infamous Locke.
It is well known that white people (nothing to do with skin color) generally—and just past playfully—ridicule black preachers (nothing to do with skin color) for their energy. “No need to get so excited. Just say what you’ve got to say and let us go home,” we comment.
I was, accordingly, surprised to hear the following critique by my black mentor after we heard a particularly rousing sermon one day, at our black church. My mentor was a retired former Navy-man who had also worked in prisons. To temper my jubilant, childlike-wonder-filled praise, he replied, “I don’t like when preachers incite. And,” he continued, “now this may just be me, but it felt like he was inciting. I used to see this kind of thing in the prisons. It’s okay to be loud and full of passion—we are talking about the Lord, mind you—but sometimes some folk cross into inciting. Remember, Pete: not everyone that’s preaching is called.”
Returning to political philosophy, my concluding thought is this. I used to think the reason we weren’t assigned John Locke anymore was because he was irrelevant, being old and clearly having rued the day. But now, after reading his essay, in full, I see our predicament differently. The reason we don’t assign each other John Locke anymore is because he is dangerous. His writing and his ideas are so powerful that you will find yourself incited to make war upon our government. Promote an essay suggesting that, anytime government prevents its citizens from bettering their lives, war is the divinely approved method to change the situation? Heavens, no! We can’t have people reading this!
I, for my part, was driving down I-35, halfway to Cabelas’ guns and ammo department (already depleted), before I remembered that I have a family and that things in my climate controlled dwelling aren’t actually that bad—even without TV.
In short, before reading Locke—and subsequently fighting the war that makes America great again—read your Bible. Best to put first things first.
In the last such post, I offered that one handle on the pandemic was to consider that it was the result of the absolutely damnable wasted opportunity to keep our citizenry educated. (Public Schools must be abolished.) Today, I want to comment on another aspect of the uncertainty, and in so doing add a second handle.
Much like an earlier post which attempted to take a god’s eye view of white-collar managers’ all-time favorite sport of office-switching, which I wrote in order to lambast the clearly superficial effort that somehow still takes place, today we’ll similarly view the present uncertainty with a view from the sky.
To do this right, we need to spend a minute on assumptions. There are six.
1. To be a pilot you must be brave. So in a pilot’s eyes, everyone choosing to alter their lives because they might die is cowardly. When afraid, learn. Your fear will disappear with knowledge.
2. Normally, to be cowardly is thought of as weak and unmanly, but for the purposes of this thought experiment, it’s fine. Because at least we know where each other stands. And now that you’ve admitted your fear, you can overcome it.
3. We know that the virus doesn’t kill us at an alarming rate. So we shouldn’t fear contracting the virus. Got CoVid? So what? Yet we still live in fear.
4. We know the positive test result doesn’t mean we will have symptoms. Tested positive? So what? Yet we still live in fear.
5. We know that people who wear masks still test positive and still show symptoms and still die from the virus. You’re wearing a mask?! So what? Yet we still wear masks. Yet we still fear.
6. Another assumption: Something should be different today due to the timeline being different. Just like our perspective changes the higher our altitude, our understanding of the situation should be different now than it was in March. Why? We’ve had more time.
Assumptions stated. Now let’s talk.
So what’s the difference? We now know that the only real burden the pandemic places on us is that we don’t have enough hospital rooms/beds. That’s it. If there were enough hospital beds, the, ahem, leaders would have nothing to write home about. If there were enough hospital beds, we’d no longer be afraid. If there were enough hospital beds, we’d know, in precisely the same way as we do with all the other diseases we’ve been living under threat of, that if we get sick, we go to the hospital.
Now let’s imagine I’m really onto something and that we fix it. More hospital beds? Poof! Done.
Now let’s take a look at our planet from the heavens. With me? What do you see? Yup. Me too. We moved people from one place to another.
Aren’t we smart?
Aren’t we compassionate?
Aren’t we little scientists?
Aren’t we really doing it?
Here’s the thing. As I get older, I’ve been struck by the thought that you’re not older than me. You’re either the poor performing football star of high school or the poor performing partier of college. In both cases, you never learned how to read. You didn’t know what you were doing then, and you still don’t. And yet you get a thrill out of having something to do. Well, guess what? You’re still illiterate. And if you’re not reading, then you aren’t doing anything. You’re certainly not helping. You’re middle management at best.
Building a hospital bed helps stop the pandemic? I won’t have to wear a mask because we built more hospital beds? Are you serious?
You were a placeholder before the uncertainty began and you’ll be a placeholder when the uncertainty is over. Why? Who knows? Because you want to be. That’s probably why. What I’m asking is that you stop playing adult and start living as one. Life includes disease. No amount of hospital beds can fix that. Have a different fear than running out of hospital beds? Fear something besides “overburdening” the healthcare system? I’m all ears. And then I’ll help you overcome that one. For now, stop telling me what to do. You’re as stupid as you were in high school and college. I didn’t listen to you then. I won’t listen to you now.
“So, it looks like you’re sad,” he said. “Is everything alright?”
H- hesitated and began, “Everything’s mostly alright.”
“Now I know something is wrong. Want to talk about it? Can I guess?”
The girl just about began again, then stopped. Her eyes said she would rather he guess.
Her father continued, “Well, obviously it’s the holidays and we’re not together. So that’s sad.”
“Yeah, and then you brought up the time when we were at Miss M’s house for Thanksgiving.”
“I didn’t know that you didn’t like being there for Thanksgiving.”
“It’s not that. It’s that we were together,” she clarified.
He began again. “And then I suspect seeing me having fun at work makes you sad.”
“Well, H-, I don’t know what to say.”
A longer pause.
“So we’re just going to read! Like always,” he faux exclaimed.
She chuckled, pathetically.
“What we’re actually going to do is repress our feelings,” he said smiling.
Now as they were FaceTiming, he really amped up the physicality of his mockery and explained with accompanying motions, “We’re going to push our feelings way down deep. And we’re going to try and hold them there as long as we can. Then, one day, unexpectedly, they’re just going to burst out!”
She laughed at his large unexpected expressions of surprise.
He cloaked the next line in mystery, “We won’t know when; we won’t know in what way-”
“-like a Jack-in-the-Box!” she interrupted.
Yes, H- had done it again. She had the gift—even if she had the blues.
I’m working on this fine Thanksgiving Day. That means that I’m often perusing the depths of my phone as I wait for the bat phone to ring. Like most stories I read of late, the content of today’s entries keep mentioning restrictions and cancellations of typical events. The mention that spurred me to offer my own volley into the bloggy battle was that some the parades have been canceled.
I haven’t watched a parade in years—maybe 20 years. I remember watching them as children. I cared about every part of them. I loved the floats. I wanted my group to perform. And when I was around 18, my family even went to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC.
But then I became an adult and went off to the Air Force to be a hero pilot. Something changed in me. I just stopped caring about the parade. Music preferences had changed. Lots of things felt different. Maybe it was my mental attitude, more concerned with war and the inner conflict of wanting to distinguish myself through one but not actually wanting to participate in one, but what I know is that it became difficult to care about what I considered to be small potatoes
I think I might even say that because of the gravity inherent to flying, I found myself wanting more and more to entertain myself precisely as I chose, and not with some other person’s method. A bit dramatic and morbid, but I could admit that my opinion became, “If I could die any day, I don’t want to have lived someone else’s life.”
Skip to the pandemic. I can’t see Metallica. I can’t go to the symphony. I can’t attend church (in a meaningful way). That’s no fun. But now I don’t have to have an excuse to stay home. Now, I can shut myself off from the world without an excuse. I can use my phone. I can use my laptop. Most importantly, I can use my books. I can sit around reading or texting all day long, and never feel guilty for being fairly anti-social. Hear me clearly: through the pandemic, I have not been terribly inconvenienced, but I have been relieved of a terrible feeling (guilt).
“With COVID-19 out there, we could die any day,” we now say. Then we hunker down and pretend to be making sacrifices for the good of each other, for the good of our nation, for the good of our children, hell, for the good of the world.
“We are heroes!” we allow, silently.
But the dark truth is this: we like our new way of life. It’s easy. It’s without guilt. And it’s how we’ve kinda always wanted life to be—alone, undisturbed, and free from responsibility.
And it’s all because we believe that we could die any day.
As I consider the upcoming change of leadership in our nation, I can’t help but see irony.
Folks want to believe Biden is so different from Trump. Especially, they say, in the fact that Biden doesn’t lie all day long. But from a God’s eye perspective, Biden does lie all day long. Whether due to his stutter, or some other ailment as simple as too-much-on-the-brain, Biden misspeaks endlessly. If we actually took his words at face value, we’d find him unintelligible. We certainly couldn’t trust him with political office.
But there’s an affability in Biden that forces even his opponents to admit, “Yes, Yes. Of course he didn’t mean what he said.” And that’s precisely what Trump fans have said for four years. “He doesn’t mean what he said.”
So we’re in a tight spot. You hate Trump because he lies. And Biden is such a poor public speaker that I have to cut through all his mistakes with a machete forged out of trust that his tongue is in no way connected to his head or his heart.
I miss strong speech. I miss meaning. I miss speaking which moved me. To be honest, I never heard such speaking. But I’ve read it. I have to believe we can do it again.
“Sect. 54. Though I have said above (Chap. II), ‘That all men by nature are equal,’ I cannot be supposed to understand all sorts of equality: age or virtue may give men a just precedency: excellency of parts and merit may place others above the common level: birth may subject some, and alliance or benefits others, to pay an observance to those to whom nature, gratitude, or other respects, may have made it due: and yet all this consists with the equality, which all men are in, in respect of jurisdiction or dominion one over another; which was the equality I there spoke of, as proper to the business in hand, being that equal right, that every man hath, to his natural freedom, without being subjected to the will or authority of any other man.”
I met a man once who seemed like he had a good head on his shoulders. As our friendship blossomed he kept inviting me to sign up to some kind of free enterprise online magazine club. Due to the twin facts that it cost money and that I don’t believe Truth costs money, I always rebuffed him. Just wasn’t my thing. Finally he offered to pay for the refundable intro lessons. I still declined. Later, at my pleading, he shared with me (for free) a link to some kind of private YouTube video (must have link to view) and I gave it a whirl. In the video, the lecturer declared, “Every word should have one meaning and one meaning only.”
“Puh. What garbage,” I instinctively reacted.
Equality is the word I ask you to consider with me today. Would you have guessed that Mr. Locke had announced which shade of meaning he was after when he said, “All men by nature are equal”? Of course, Thomas Jefferson didn’t include an explanation of which shade of equality he meant alongside his, “All men are created equal” within the Declaration of Independence, so don’t follow your mind to a place we’re not going. My question remains. Would you have guessed that Locke explained that he knew of other meanings of equality?
I would have. The reason I would have is because I’ve been reading great writing for some time now and it simply sounds different than contemporary writing.
For a variety of reasons, our peers are up in arms about equality these days. And they try to use Locke’s idea as a unifying backbone. “See? You, Captain American Declaration, already believe these disenfranchised people are equal too…” they say. It’s nonsense. The house of cards collapses with a single question, “Which sort of equality?” Kamala Harris doesn’t know which sort she means. She doesn’t even take time to evidence that she knows that there are different sorts. This means only that she is not a great writer. Who knew?
This is why I read great writing. Because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to discern the many nuanced meanings of equality. I wouldn’t be able to discern who is attempting to con me and who is attempting to persuade me. And without this discernment, my mind would be, at the least, enslaved to another man’s mind, and, at the most, enslaved to his will.
Lastly, to be clear, you don’t have to agree with Locke or the Founders’ assertion about all men’s equality in order to agree with me here. I promise, however, that whether you agree with Locke or not, you will not forget what he taught you about equality.
Read on, young man! Read on!
Why do I always leap at the chance to read Peggy Noonan? Because she’s published by the Wall Street Journal. For my whole life that publication has been elevated as more valuable than all others. Simply put: it had better writing. But I would never pay for it. No way. It wasn’t that good. And I knew that if I did pay, then the guilty pleasure of sneaking in some articles at hotels or the gym locker room would have died.
But I’m tired these days. It’s still great writing. But reason matters to me too. And in Noonan’s Bogus Dispute op-ed of today she writes, “But it’s right to worry about the damage being done on the journey.” And later, “On top of all that, the outcome was moderate: for all the strife and stress of recent years, the split decision amounted to a reassertion of centrism.”
These two statements cannot be defended as reasoned conclusions. I’m not saying they are illogical. I’m talking about Reason, Locke style. Fear and worry have no place in a reasoned life. We are never right to worry. Never.
As for the second statement, it’s not only unreasoned, it is also false. Since when do polar opposites added together amount to centrism? Centrism amounts to centrism.
Noonan seems to think that conservatives can be abstracted up to a state-of-being similar to mere energy. And then she asks us to place that energy on one side of an equation where progressives are on the other side, similarly abstracted. Then, if anyone can even follow this mental gymnastic, she asks us to see that the result-announcing equal sign is the USA. (Or maybe the Flag.) Fortunately, she is wrong.
If Ms. Noonan wants us to ‘go abstract’, here’s how it would work. Conservatives abstract to, say, 70 million, and are added to progressives, -78 million, and the result as any fourth grader knows is not zero (or balance), but negative eight million (70,000,000 + -78,000,000 = -8,000,000). Or, concretely, a progressive President.
Life is not math, though. It is art. And the great thing, for optimists like me, is that even when there are less colors (freedom), art can still be beautiful. And that’s all that’s happened here. A few or perhaps even many colors are disappearing. So I, for one, look forward to the new restrictions, the new boundaries from which to make my masterpiece. But, then, I never did understand abstract art.
John Locke opens his, “Concerning the True Original Extent and End of Civil Government,” (which he wrote to combat the notion, en vogue at that time, of Divine Right of Kings—itself predicated on the idea that the King was descended from Adam), he opens with four points.
Paraphrased, he says, firstly, Adam had no right (nor did he claim any right) to be such a king—over his family or others. Secondly, Adam’s children were not passed any such right. Thirdly, if his children were passed such right, there is no way to tell which child of each successive family should or did receive the right. And fourthly, (here I’ll directly quote at length) “That if even that had been determined, yet the knowledge of which is the eldest line of Adam’s posterity being so long since utterly lost, that in the races of mankind and families of the world, there remains not to one above another the least pretense to be the eldest house, and to have the right of inheritance.”
Put shortly, Locke says, even if we believe Adam was endowed especially by God to be King, and even if this special endowment was to be passed on to one of his children (and then one of his children and on and on), too bad! We’ve dropped the ball. We’ve lost track! There’s been too many generations, too many brothers and sisters each generation! Next!
The clarity of his writing is enough to make anyone smile. So read more Locke. Especially if you want to criticize the government. Because as it stands, all criticism I come across is unfocused, unclear, and childlike. We can do better. John Locke is proof.
When thinking Biblically, it is difficult to avoid developing theories for why the pandemic is happening. As in, “What have we done, O LORD, to bring upon ourselves this time of uncertainty? Gambling? Entertainment? Wine? Women? Empty pews? Unrepentant hearts? Not saying your name often and loud enough? What?”
As you may have expected, I have one answer. This answer nourishes my soul and it may prove to nourish yours. So I’m sharing it today.
The reason that this is the day for sharing is that last night, H- reported to me that her elementary school fifth grade class’s week of “different form of government each day” had drawn to a close.
At the close of last week, the eternally incapable of critical thought, and therefore stupid, young teacher had sent a warning/announcement email to mothers and fathers (addressed politically correctly as “parents/guardians”), asking us to not spoil the fun. The email mentioned that the immersive experience would include one day within Monarchy/Dictator (hardly a “slash-able” form of government to anyone who knows how to read), one day within Communism, one day within Socialism (does a ten year old ((or 30 year old for that matter)) really possess the faculties to understand the nuances between these two?? Read on to find out…), and one day within Democracy.
The following are my daughter’s reports.
Monday – (To be clear, this day was a surprise to her. She had not been informed that the day was going to be different than any other before arriving at school.) Besides telling me she cried and subsequently putting her video on pause because I laughed when she told me as much, she said, “I didn’t like how mean and strict she [her teacher] was.” (She couldn’t really remember the name of the form of government.)
Tuesday – “Communism was okay. Had to do the same thing as everyone in the class. At least we got to talk with our friends.”
Wednesday – (Socialism, I think. Again, H- couldn’t recall the name.) “The teacher chose seven students. Then those seven ruled over two each. I didn’t like it. But it wasn’t that bad really. But it wasn’t my favorite. I didn’t hate it that much.”
Thursday – “Today, the last day, was Democracy. It was pretty fun, but there were more boys than girls. So it was unfair. Because we had to do what the boys wanted.”
Can you, dear reader, imagine a greater success to a more important undertaking?!
What have Americans done to bring about the uncertainty? Answer: Squandered perhaps the greatest opportunity to educate the whole of our nation’s children that the world (thus, the LORD) has ever given mankind.
Put bluntly, I sleep better and live better with the thought that the deaths of this here pandemic, the uncertainty and fear caused by it, and the Public School’s decision to move to remote learning—with its result that parents can no longer ignore the failure of the falsely lauded public school teachers (“Oh, whatever would we do without these noble education-major-because-I-lack-creative-impulse-at-eighteen pedants?”)—might combine to mean that the facade is over.
The LORD has spoken! Public Schools must be abolished. Since we’re not smart enough to see their harm, the LORD will do it in his own way.
Maybe you can see the wave of abolishment building, too. Know that it is real. And know that it is good. Bring on the ‘rona! Four more years!! Four more years!!