Tuesday, July 30, 2013
We are not, any of us, really equal.
This is not to say that we are not political equals. Yet even that phrase leaves a bit of uncertainty: we are only equal because my vote should count as much as yours. That doesn't strike us as equality. It strikes us as justice.
In the same manner, as we have employed this tactic when talking about freedom, education, peace, and so forth, so too do we find that we must apply it to any calls for equality. We need to ask what the supporters of equality really mean. Because any absolute and final equality of circumstances must actually be something which applies only in very, very few cases. Take equal pay for equal work, for example. Notice that we are asking a question whose answer only applies to very strict and definite circumstances. A woman cancer doctor, 50 years old, with 20 years of practice, who graduated from the same schools with the same grades as a complimentary male cancer specialist in the same place of work, and with the same proficiency of work, should get the same pay. No rational mind would argue otherwise. But the case is so limited that only one answer is truly right anyway.
As to the other facet of the argument, well, calls for equality must ring hollow because, again, we are not equal. A brain surgeon isn't equal to a plumber, no matter how much more we want the latter when the faucet breaks or the basement floods, and no matter which is male or female. As a matter of decency, we should not automatically look well on the surgeon nor ill on the plumber. But yet again, that's a point about justice, not equality.
We could refine the case further, but we trust the point is made. When we are demanding equality we are often (if not in fact always) demanding justice. We are asking that we be treated rightly and properly in light of the circumstances which surround us. We are not asking for equality. We are asking for justice.
So, and we are sure many people may have grown tired of us asking yet we must, when you demand equality, do you really want that? If so, how? Why? For we need to remember that the only sure way to make folks equal is downward, to the where no one is above the lowest common denominator.
That the average person means equality in the sense of true justice we don't doubt. Still, it is when we use terms wrongly that we have the greatest troubles. It is then when the radical fringe of any given group may take the day. Yet when we clarify our thoughts, when we strive to end misunderstanding by calling things what they are, then, indeed, justice wins out. Isn't that what we really want?
Sunday, July 28, 2013
An interesting example of this exists in the City of Detroit today. We have, on one hand, a hearty group of preservationists working diligently to keep a strong memory of the past as intact, well, as intact as they can. On the other hand, we find (or supposedly find) developers wishing to do something quite different with that same parcel. Each is sure they have the best idea for the land in mind. But do they?
We are talking about the land which once contained Detroit's Tiger Stadium. Preservationists such as the Navin Field Grounds Crew wish to keep it for its purpose of more than 100 years: baseball. Developers want to do something else: put up shops, apartments, or even facilities for the Parade Company, which oversees the annual Thanksgiving parade in town.
Each side has their talking points. One says history and tradition could and should be kept alive there. The other, that it's just a piece of land, and yadda, yadda, the back and forth begins. But to get to the point, there really is an easy answer to it all.
Let whomever actually owns the land decide what to do with it.
Yes, that means the City of Detroit. Yes, that means the old ballyard is subject to the same stupidity which has brought the city to bankruptcy. But who else has the moral right to do something with their property except the owner?
We will readily concede that it would be a fine gesture on Detroit's part to sell or cede the land to those doing the upkeep. Or perhaps they could up with the money to purchase it and keep it up as they now do. We even sympathize with the preservationists, for what that's worth, knowing how poorly the city does things.
But its their thing, and there's no getting around that. It's theirs, and all else is subject to their whims. What else can be said? We must wait Detroit out and hope for the best. Any other idea is simply a pipe dream.
Friday, July 26, 2013
For starters, it surely means that we are to love everyone without reservation. We are called to love everyone as though they were ourselves, to paraphrase a great moral teacher. It is a difficult ideal; loving our enemies is not easy, and sometimes loving our friends and family is a challenge as well. Still, we are expected to overcome this obstacle, and find a way to open our hearts to all.
But there is a great misunderstanding to unconditional love, an error in its application which is at least arguably worse than failing to love everyone around us. Many people believe that unconditional love means loving others up to and including their faults. We are, according to this, meant to love others including their faults, and indeed often embracing them.
This cannot be a good and true interpretation of the standard. It cannot be a useful approach towards dealing with others. We can accept that we must love racists and sexists and criminals; but to love their faults? This is insanity on its face. Do we not want to see people become better people? Do we not want to see our children grow into mature adults? Then we should be instructing and cajoling and beseeching those around us, as they should towards us, to do better than they do, and to be better than they are.
When our children become drug addicts or alcoholics, we do what we can to change them. When our neighbors rob and injure others, we enforce laws to stop them. We can and should still love them, but that does not mean we are obliged to tolerate them.
It is more correct to say that unconditional love calls us to love those around us despite their faults. Because real love does not embrace error. It understands it as a part of us which ought to be altered, and wants to see us move away from the lesser aspects of our being and into better men, women, and children. If it does not want that, it is not love. It is something which facilitates bad behavior; it is a cancer of character.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
Are we to assume that Mr. Cureton has not done well for himself despite the lack of diploma? Has he not been able to successfully gain employment? Has he not been able to provide for himself or his family? Has he found walls where he expected doors?
Obviously not. So why is the degree so important? Simply because mom and society think so, even though the man has clearly been able to tread water without it?
Apparently. That he has made good of himself without it seems not to matter. He has a degree and is now somehow complete. This is not to take away from the accomplishment per se but to point out the rather hollow emphasis on something which must be seen objectively as superfluous. Cureton didn't need the degree to make it in the sports world. It is very unlikely that having it will affect his future. There is no reason that it should be seem so positively, as though it were make or break for him.
We put too much meaning into formal education. People should not feel compelled to continue or complete an education which serves no real purpose. All that it does is line the pockets of academia. It's hardly a necessary step forward for the folks who have made it in the world.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Is it wrong per se for people to have differing opinions? No; it is the content of the opinions which determine right and wrong rather than whatever mere differences exist between what one party or the other says. But more, don't we want partisanship when there are meaningful issues which need to be worked out? Harry Reid isn't slammed for being partisan when he forces things through the Senate. His liberal allies appear to have no problem with his strong arm tactics.
Which demonstrates the problem perfectly. It is only those who are against the current status quo that demand nonpartisanship. In short, agree with us, conservatives, or you're just obstructing business. Give up everything you believe in, while we pursue all that we like, and we'll get along just fine.
That isn't government. It is, however, hypocritical and selfish.
Friday, July 19, 2013
Thursday, July 18, 2013
Atheists tend to make one critical error about religion. It is that error which reveals much about their attitudes towards serious religion.
Atheists assert that religion is entirely faith based. They like to quote the Letter to the Hebrews: faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). True enough. Yet they abuse the passage as well as the concept of faith. They are wrong to assert, as normally follows, that when someone has faith in something, no amount of logic or evidence can change their immediate view. For anyone of real faith realizes one important fact: faith and reason cannot contradict one another.
A belief in a God is a point of philosophy, not religion. It is a truth readily and conveniently overlooked by many nonbelievers. As such, the profoundly religious do not argue that faith is beyond or without reason. The history of the Catholic Church is deep with Saints who assert that faith and reason compliment rather than contradict one another. Aquinas, Augustine, indeed any Doctor of the Church says as much. So as philosophy is based on reason, and the existence of a God is a philosophical matter, it follows that faith must be congruent with philosophy. We are, ahem, graced with the ability to reason. No just God (and a just God is again a rational philosophic conclusion) would allow for any type of knowledge to contradict another. Knowledge, being of three basic styles (empirical, rational, and faithful) must be in harmony or it would have no value. The real truths of science, philosophy, and religion must be in league, or all knowledge is suspect.
That people, even Popes and Imams, have used religion poorly is without doubt. No human being is perfect; ergo, any human being can err. Yet how many secularists, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, have also done horrible things against humanity (one wonders if perhaps they together killed more and caused more calamity than presumably religiously inspired actions) without the aid of religion? Still, to assert that religion is based solely on faith is a rather hollow claim. It begs the question of whether the accuser actually researched religion or is simply acting knee jerk.
Sunday, July 14, 2013
To begin with, because abortion is a moral evil of so grave a nature that it must be fought. A pregnant woman is carrying a human baby whether she wants to admit it or not, and that life merits the same protection as any other life. Indeed, if you are unwilling to protect human life at its frailest, it is fair to question whether you have any real conviction towards the dignity of life at any other stage or under any other circumstances. If you will not protect life in the womb, then everything else you stand for is subject to question and doubt.
The abortion issue must somehow be kept on the table. To have many state legislatures working against it ensures this, even if they are subject to rejection by the courts. But keep pushing the question and one day, perhaps, the pro-life laws will actually be upheld when a better court is available.
Another reason is that the abortion issue is one of the few where the we have a cut and dried dispute between the two major parties: the GOP is against it, and the Democrats for it (by and large; we realize there are exceptions). Voters need clear choices so far as they can be had. This issue is an example of that, one which, again, we can draw useful conclusions about what else the parties might do or favor.
These may be the key reasons we must keep up the fight against abortion. The list is not limited to them nor exhausted. But it does give us starting points, and from there we may eventually end this modern American holocaust.
Saturday, July 13, 2013
For starters, it means that the abortion debate is alive and well. That is a good thing. Once measures such as what have been passed in Texas and other states are no longer controversial, we will have seen the end of the abortion debate. Until then, the cause must endure.
Why should anyone be for abortion? Outside of rare cases, most abortions involve women who freely consented to sex. Isn't part of being free the accepting of responsibility? Don't those women know that they could get pregnant? In knowing what might happen yet committing the act anyway, haven't they in fact accepted the potential consequences and all which goes along with that?
And there's the rub. The presumed right to abortion allows women (and we wonder how often their boyfriends, husbands, or ships that pass in the night) to avoid responsibility. Abortion allows everyone involved to have their fun without living up to the potential results of that fun. Abortion is ultimately and in the overwhelming majority of cases for the undisciplined to act without regard for what may happen as a result of that act. It is indeed about freedom, but exactly the wrong kind of freedom: the freedom to act without consequence.
That will not help the cause of freedom. But it will indeed make us a selfish nation.
Thursday, July 11, 2013
G. K. Chesterton
Ayn Rand, though a very entertaining author, has her philosophical flaws. But if she is right about anything, she is right about this so far as it goes: you must have a philosophy to live by or you will have no bearings for judging your actions. You will have no way of interpreting what to do or when to do it.
Too many people lack this. Set aside for the moment whether any given philosophy is right. That is surely the next question to ask, but it isn't the point just now. The thrust of today's commentary is that a framework is necessary for us to determine the value of our life's, in fact even of our daily, work. Certain frameworks will prove to be wrong; indeed we suggest that there can only be one right set of guidelines when all is said and done. But again, we are veering from the issue at hand.
Rand says, if we remember her correctly, that if you do not discipline yourself towards thinking about things at the least within a context of ideas which you take as a given, you will eventually merely wander from day to day, from idea to idea, and find yourself eternally at the influence of other forces without regard for what you may actually want or need. You will discover, if the thought ever actually develops in your mind, that you have not become an individual of any value. You will be a sheep. The time of slaughter will one day consume you, as you will have no way of defending yourself from it.
Or something worse will happen. You would become a petty little dictator, self assured that all that you do is itself the standard of right and wrong. And why not? You would be at the point where whims and passing fancy will guide you, or, more correctly, you will be the flag proudly fluttering in the wind, too proud to know that it is the air which unfurls you and not your own knowledge or will. As the breeze fades and dies, so do you. And what will be seen of you as you are opened to the world?
So you need a philosophy. You need some way of determining whether the people and events around you are evolving into things useful or things destructive. You need coherency in your life. You need to, in the words of that old saw, stand for something lest you fall for anything. This approach may well leave you standing for the wrong things in the end. Still, your only chance of being found by the just and true lies in the firmness of your stance.
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
This is not a xenophobic assertion. It applies to any situation where a newcomer enters a foreign nation. If someone were to take a job in Warsaw it would be incumbent upon them to learn Polish. The Poles would not be obliged to learn English for the new arrival's benefit. Such a fact is so obvious that it should not have to be stated. For one thing, it's a practical necessity. For another, it only shows a decent respect for one's new culture. You're in their house: you do things, as a rule, their way.
To be sure, there's nothing wrong with a neighborhood of, say, ethnic Poles living in the United States having signs in their stores in Polish. Nor is it wrong to keep your old customs within your own household or group. But if you really want to become part of a new culture, and presumably you do if you've moved into one, then you are more obliged to learn the language of your new home than your new neighbors might be to learn yours. That might be nice of them but it is not obligatory. They were here first; you came to them. You're the one who needs to adapt.
If you insist on having things your way, well, it is that which is truly arrogant as opposed to the majority of the nation wishing to keep things as they are. Why should a newcomer demand such consideration? But more, it will in the long run keep you separate. Language will be a wedge which will keep you from being understood and accepted. That would not be the fault of the general populace. And you and your family will be the ones who suffer most.
Anyone short of thieves and ne'er do wells should be welcome in America. It is our reasonably open borders which made us great. But if you really want to be an American, speak English. Only then will you fully understand Her.
Sunday, July 7, 2013
Ah, the western world. It wants so much. One of those things it lusts after is one live cell, any kind of cell, on another world. That would surely put religion to shame, wouldn't it? It would show that we aren't alone in the universe, and put all those religious zealots to shame, wouldn't it? Just one cell is all it would take.
The rabble in the west and the vaunted pseudoscientific community have something in common then: they each want to find life somewhere else but on Earth. One cell, one wee tiny microscopic organism, and that would put to an end all the egotism of so many tiny Earthlings. One cell of life would mean that much to them.
But the importance of two cells, well, hold on a minute, mister. Two cells within a woman's womb here on Earth, and the game changes. Dramatically. Two such cells, and they must be destroyed, if the woman, one lone person, says so. Life somewhere else, life which is also little more than abstraction (at least right now) would be of infinite value. This means, what? A second extraterrestrial cell would hold no inherent value at all? Add a second cell here on our own planet, where the only life we really know to exist exists, and all that infinite grace is gone if the individual wills it. Would it be gone if found somewhere else, even, horrors, in a bit of two celled life on some other planet inconveniently found in an alien organism? Should that not, at one person's insistence, be destroyed?
This is why we cannot respect popular science. This is why we treat so much of the western world with derision. They are of dual personalities and at war within themselves. And why? Because of one lone cell projected to be out 'there' 'somewhere'. One theoretical cell that means more to them than life on Earth, indeed means more to them than any real multicelluar life right here, right now. Real known life means nothing to them. Life in their imagination, though, means everything.
Ah, science. How many cells at work came up with this paradox?
Friday, July 5, 2013
But there are issues. One is that the improvements would result in the loss of a chunk of the Wayne State neighborhood, in that 100 properties there would be purchased for the roadway expansion. The other is that the United Sound Systems studio would be lost as well. Many Motown stars recorded songs there, up to modern rapper Eminem. Many people hate to see the studio lost because of that. As a result, they want to see plans altered so that both the studio and the neighborhood would be preserved.
Two things come to mind. One lies within the sphere of the general versus the special interest, and the real point there is clear. I-94 has been an early morning/late afternoon parking lot for years; it needs to be expanded for the sake of better traffic flow at peak times. This is a general societal interest issue. The special interest of either a neighborhood or abandoned recording studio should not be allowed to interfere with that.
The second point is about preserving history. Why ought the United Sound Systems building be saved? Merely because many prominent musicians and singers recorded there? Merely because it represents Detroit's contribution to the nation's or the world's music scene?
These simply aren't reasons enough. To begin with, don't we have the music recorded there already preserved, well, through the recordings? Why ought the building be spared then? Secondly, everything of historical note cannot be preserved. Eventually we would not be able to move, because everything (arguably) has historic or neighborhood value. Every physical piece of the past cannot be saved; it's a practical impossibility. Further, we have the special interest angle to again consider: in this case, the special interest of music fans against the general interest of folks trying to get to and from places conveniently. The general interest should win.
To be sure, if the plans could be changed without too much hassle, or especially if a private group could come up with the cash or the wherewithal to save the studio or the neighborhood, there would be little reason to not do that much. Short of that, I-94 ought to be improved via the best potential route. Even if that means losing an old recording studio.
We Americans think we know history. We think that whatever we've done, even such relatively unimportant things as making popular tunes (which are really only recent things not truly subject to the judgment of history as of yet) ought to last forever. Yet we forget an important point: the future will be the real judge of Motown's contribution to music history rather than our obviously prejudiced feelings of the moment. And yet another thing: when we attempt to embalm history, are we really preserving history, or simply being arrogant about ourselves and our contributions to it?
We're just asking. But we are fascinated about the potential answers.
Thursday, July 4, 2013
Well, freedom for the most of us. There are those who are not quite so free: the ones who have elected to surrender part of their lives so that the rest of us may be free. They surrender a part of themselves so that the United States does not surrender.
It is far too easy to write about the sacrifices made by the soldiers and sailors who give of their lives, who have given their lives, for the sake of ours. Words are simple, talk is cheap; actions, however, speak loudly, and echo through history in a way text pounded into a computer never can, and never will.
It is particularly important on this holiday to remember the armed forces of our Allies as well, the Canadians and Britons; the French, Spanish, and Dutch (for would we be a nation today without their aid in the 1770s and 1780s?) and countless others, who give and have also given of their lives and efforts for the same basic reasons our men and women in uniform do. Our Constitutions may differ, our political systems vary; but the commitment to freedom is quite the same.
Yes, there are and will be differences, as there are differences among ourselves. But if the long range goals are the same, if all eyes are on the same prize, then all roads will lead to the same reward. It is our armed forces who pave that road, and they are the reason we live free on this 237th anniversary of our birth.
God Bless America, God Bless our friends, and God Bless those all who do His work.
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Hmmm...you can park your car in your garage without worry that it will not be safe. You can work on projects in there and not be concerned with you safety. You can hold sales in them and not be overly worried that the folks drifting in and out of them will be harmed. But you can't put tables and chairs and televisions in them and sit around and talk and eat. We just don't see a problem here.
Well, they're not meant to be living spaces. So? Isn't that actually an intention superimposed on the space rather than a safety issue?
But permits cannot be issued to convert them to living spaces because they're not living spaces. Isn't that just a circular argument? Change the ordinances then, if that's so important, and issue the permits.
But more cars are parked on the streets. What are the streets for, thought? Driving and parking. Other neighborhoods in other places don't have a problem with that, and for good reason: it isn't a real problem.
The bottom line is that there isn't a blamed thing wrong with using your garage as a social space, and it's none of the government's nor your neighbors business that you do. The only real question which might come out of it is potential noise. Surely that would be covered by disturbing the peace ordinances, and is really a separate issue anyway.
Let people socialize in their garages. There must be something more serious Dearborn officials can do with their time than pester citizens (although the city is curtailing enforcement for now, to be fair) who are merely in their own homes talking to friends. Ferreting out unlicensed kiddie lemonade dealers perhaps?
Monday, July 1, 2013
What has it wrought? That's fairly easy to answer in retrospect: if nothing else, it gave the North enough of a victory to keep the Union in the game. Yet more than that; what has happened as a result of the battle?
Clearly, that the federal government was shown as superior to the several states. That has been a real mixed bag, to say the least. True, it ended slavery. Yet from our vantage point a century and a half later, it seems that Washington has become too powerful because of the War. We are no longer a nation of consensual independent bodies, and with that we don't have the amount of freedom we should.
The real shame is that the South, the Confederacy, had a legitimate enough point in fighting: states' rights. But what went with that call at that time? Human bondage. On the whole, the concept of states rights within our governing system isn't bad; yet it is almost nonexistent anymore. And why? Because it is associated with the South and slavery.
This is exactly the sort of thing which happens when men apply good ideas to bad notions. They become corrupted, even if perfectly rational (as they of course almost surely may be) seen without the taint of evil. In short, when the South went to war for the rights of the states yet with the specter of men and women in chains behind it, it was employing a good point to an evil end, and in very practical terms that has led to the loss of our freedoms today.
We would not have Obamacare today, we would not have abortion so prevalent nor gay marriage forced upon us so totally, without the Civil War, because many of these things would be left to the states. There would be a mix of laws on those and other very important matters, to be sure. But that would also mean that at least some of the states would get things right, and citizens could move into the states which most well stood for what is right and true and where they might hold the hope of one day convincing their peers to emulate them. As it is, it no longer matters, because we have a massive federal establishment telling all of us what to support. It will not be easily swayed, if ever, as it is too strong.
The Confederacy lost the battle and the seceding states lost with it any real ability to control their own destiny. The Union won the battle but, as is famously said in other places, lost the peace, as its member states have lost so much of their power as well. Evil begets evil. We are all, each of us, the poorer for it. That is the real lesson of Gettysburg.