Government

The Irrationality of Hatred… and the Need to Let It Speak (Statues, pt 2)

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No, this blog post is not another one about the Boll Weevil Monument, but it does effectively tie this post to my previous one.

Turns out, that one post has generated more comments than I have ever had subscribed readers! Granted, most of those comments were negative, but in a round about way, they do prove a point I was making in that post, and serve as the basis for this one.

As an aside, I’d like to point out that this blog is not intended to be some bastion of wisdom. Quite honestly, it’s something that languished for a long time, but I started back doing for my kids’ sake, to save my “thoughts of the day” (or week, or whatever) for them, should anything ever happen to me, a possibility that became very real to me when I had my open heart surgery last year. I spend so much time at work, or writing, or gaming, or lost in my own “grown up” world that my kids don’t get a chance to see the totality of who I am. Right now, I’m just Daddy — a fat curmudgeon that should probably refuse that overtime day and take them kayaking instead.

ANYWAY… regarding that blog post, I got a lot of grief for trying to build a “false equivalency” between the hardships Enterprise suffered under the boll weevil blight and the hardships that many people (not just blacks) suffered under the institution of slavery. The fact is, that was intentional. I wasn’t trying to downplay the suffering of blacks. Rather, I was trying to make a point about a contentious issue by illustrating it with a NON-contentious issue. Jesus used this tactic all the time in His parables. Every time He would speak on a topic that His disciples presumably were not equipped to grasp, He first addressed the topic using illustrations that they could grasp — not to say that His Saviorhood actually made Him a Door or a Vine, but to show the characteristics that were the same even though the metaphor was simply a metaphor.

In any case, the majority of the commenters on that post either failed to grasp my meaning regardless of my efforts, or they were dissatisfied with my approach. But rather than engage me and ask for clarification, or discuss the topic at hand, they made assumptions about my meaning — many of which were inaccurate — and proceeded to personally attack me, as have many who were dissatisfied with Trump’s response to Charlottesville (not a huge Trump fan myself, but that’s neither here nor there).

As this happens to be my blog, my personal corner of the internet, I could just as easily have turned off their comments — still could, in fact. But I chose not to, and will likely leave the comments open on this one as well, because however much I might disagree with some of the comments, and however hurtful I might find them, I think it actually serves the conversation to allow them to remain. In allowing them to continue to have a voice, they are ultimately proving my point about integrity and hypocrisy. They are demonstrating, better than I myself ever could, that although people in America cry out to “stop the hatred”, many have no problem with hatred itself, so long as they feel it’s justified.

I don’t share that view. As much as I might hate a thought or an ideal, and as much as I’m moved to fight certain thoughts or ideals, I still feel compelled to respect the person who holds that thought or ideal — maybe not their use of it, but certainly their right to have it.

If you’ll permit me to use another non-contentious yet applicable illustration (at the risk of being accused of false equivalency hehe), take Westboro Baptist for example. I absolutely despise the rhetoric that they spew. I think it is a total insult to both Christ Himself and me as a Christian. And yet, until one of them takes their picket sign and pops someone over the head with it, I believe that they deserve the right to make themselves look as repulsive as they want to. I find their rhetoric hateful and hurtful, but they have as much right to say it as I have to refuse to listen to it.

But here’s the thing. When Westboro spews their hatred, and run Christ’s name in the dirt, what they are also doing is setting an indelible, immutable example — like an unchanging landmark that, when compared to actual Christianity, shows the stark contrast between Christian love and anti-Christian hatred. To some people, Westboro’s hatred illustrates BEAUTIFULLY what’s so genuinely attractive about people who shrug off hypocrisy and genuinely follow Christ.

Do I want Westboro to shut their pie holes? Every second of every protest. But I would never “make” them shut up, never censor them until they become a physical danger to somebody, because what they intend for evil, God can turn around and use for good.

Ya know… kinda like what I was telling my daughter about something “bad” not having to BE “bad”.

Now, I have no doubt that there will be precious few negative commenters from that post reading this one — I kinda doubt that they cared enough about my blog to subscribe to it — but if any of them are, let me just say that everybody has a point of view. Some treat their views as subject to revision (I do my best to treat mine that way). Some treat their views as unassailable. But one there is one truth that transcends every one of these views — if you already know everything, you can’t learn anything new.

This is why you can talk to someone who talks with you but you can’t talk to someone who talks at you. Even if you don’t agree on a single thing — before the conversation or after — when you are willing to engage, and the other party is willing to engage, you are both better for having had the conversation. Whether or not an opinion was changed, it was exposed to something that could potentially change it, if not today, maybe tomorrow. And that’s true on both sides of the conversation, not just one.

But that’s a miracle that’s only possible when hatred is set aside, and the conversants allow humility — not “rightness” — to do its work. This is what it means to be rational in conversation, and sadly the single most conspicuous element lacking in today’s culture, whether we’re talking about race relations or politics or what have you. Don’t believe me? Have a single Facebook conversation with somebody you think is “wrong”, and watch how hard it is to keep that puppy from devolving into personal attacks.

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The Importance Of Monuments That Hurt

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Last week, my wife and I went to Enterprise, Alabama to pick up a chicken coop that someone was giving away. As we were driving back home, my daughter (who chose to ride in Daddy’s truck rather than the air conditioned Sequoia hehe) and I were talking about history, and about how just because something “bad” happens doesn’t necessarily mean that it HAS to be bad. It’s all in how you take it. Since we were in Enterprise, I referenced the local monument to the Boll Weevil.

Yes, the Boll Weevil. A monument to a bug.

Story goes, Enterprise — like the rest of the Wiregrass area, and the South at large — depended upon cotton crops for its economy. But in 1915, Alabama suffered an influx of boll weevils, which are native to Mexico, and the beetle devastated the local cotton crops. The next year, one enterprising man (LOL see what I did there?) had the idea to change his crops from cotton to peanut. As the boll weevil plague went on, local farmers watched their cotton crops suffer while this farmer’s peanuts flourished. This taught the local farmers the value of diversifying their crops, a lesson that was so valuable to the farmers of Coffee County that in 1919 they erected a monument to the boll weevil in appreciation.

Did they appreciate the bug itself? Not hardly. It proved to be the near ruin of many a farm. But had it not been for the boll weevil and the hard times it brought with it, the farmers of Enterprise would never have learned the value of diversification. They would never have prospered without the hardship that they had suffered.

I thought it was a good lesson for my daughter to learn, but about halfway through it, her eyes started to glaze over and her attention wandered. Such is the life of a thirteen-year-old — this one in particular, anyway. I finished the lesson though, if only to remind myself of its value.

As I watched the news over the past couple days, as more and more Confederate monuments are torn down, the value of monuments like the Boll Weevil is made even clearer to me. See, the local museums have all this same information… and I never cared enough to track it down. Had it not been for the monument, out in plain sight where I couldn’t help but encounter it, I would never have known what the monument meant. Had it not been for the sheer oddity of a monument to an insect, I would never have understood the adversity that these farmers had overcome, and how such a “bad” thing could have made them better.

That’s what I find so sad — and so infuriating — about the current crop of Social Justice Warriors tearing down Civil War monuments. They think they’re fighting injustice when, in fact, they’re creating it. Their desire to wipe our evils from our history — or to pack them away in museums where we can conveniently forget about them — only hurts us because, as George Santayana is famous for saying, “Those that cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

In their righteous indignation, these SJWs don’t realize that they are becoming the very things that they claim to loathe. They decry chattel slavery, but have no problem enslaving the taxpayer. They denounce racism against blacks, while at the same time encourage it against whites by their denouncement of “privilege”. They lambast gender inequality, while feeling no shame in accusing someone of “mansplaining”.

The tearing down of these monuments is but one example of a cultural cancer that, I fear, will eventually kill this country. Civilization is not something that you can inherit. You have to learn it and relearn it with each successive generation, else you revert to your inner beasts, as we see happening today. Without the monument, out there in the open — obnoxiously so, sometimes — we’re tempted to let the past stay in the past. It can’t hurt us there, sure, but neither can it prompt us to take care that we don’t repeat it.

Categories: Blogroll, Government, Life In General, Religious, Uncategorized | 35 Comments

This Libertarian’s Take on Independence Day

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Let me preface this with a clarification — I’m not “just” a libertarian. I am a devotely Christian, staunchly pro-life, uber-patriotic libertarian.

I can just imagine the heads exploding at that. Conservatives see “libertarian” and presume that I must be a progressive. Liberals, and a good many of my fellow libertarians, see all the stuff that comes BEFORE “libertarian” and presume that I must be a Republican just lying to myself. I mean, to reconcile all the above would make a good number of “liberty loving” people bleed from the eyes at the presumed inconsistency, but to be honest, I can’t imagine it getting MORE consistent than that. After all, the first part of that description deals with what I think the world should look like. The latter — the “libertarian” — only describes what I think government’s role in that worldview should be!

So how does Independence Day mean to a guy like me? Really, it’s affirmation of everything that I believe, all at once.

For the devote Christian in me, it holds true to the notion that the relationship I have with Christ is a relationship that He VOLUNTARILY entered into with me, and that I voluntarily received. I submit to Christ’s authority NOT because I “have” to (while that may be the case in eternity, while I’m in the flesh, He still gives me the ability to refuse Him) but because I WANT to. I’m in relationship with Christ because I love Him, and He has proven time and again — not just in scripture but in my own life — that He is WORTHY of all that love and more. That’s a notion that perfectly encapsulates the American dream, whether someone is a believer or not.

For the pro-lifer in me, Independence Day affirms to me that all of us, regardless of merit or status or race or gender or belief, are of equal value. This means that I am no better than someone else, and they are no better than me. My rights are not superior to theirs, and theirs are not superior to mine. This is entirely consistent with the pro-life stance, as this same argument for equality necessarily means that the rights of the unborn are neither greater nor less than that of the mother. Rather, their rights are equal, and independent one from the other.

Which brings me to the libertarian part of my worldview — and a big part it is! For me, Independence Day spells out everything that it means to be libertarian. It is a recognition that we are all created equal, and that the rights we have been endowed with by our Creator are equally inalienable. Independence Day declares that those rights do not originate from the government (as the US government was not formed until well AFTER the signing of this Declaration of Independence) but that government was formed for the express purpose of ensuring that those rights are not violated by ANYBODY, be they neighbor or stranger… or our own government.

When fifty-six of our forefathers affixed their signatures to the Declaration of Independence, they affixed their NAME to it — their reputations, their wealth, their ideals, their lives, and potentially the lives of their children. EVERYTHING THEY WERE AND EVER WOULD BE, they affixed to the truth that all men are created equal, from the lowest pauper to the highest king. They said with one voice, “You are not the boss of me”, and meant that “you” for anybody that might consider themselves the exception.

In the stroke of a pen, they told the king of England that there would be no more kings in America — which, incidentally, was a notion entirely HOSTILE to the ideas of slavery and gender inequality, and led to their end in the following years.

Mostly, though, Independence Day reminds me that when we declared there would be no more kings in America, that declaration did not have an expiration date. It is still just as true today as it ever was — truer, perhaps. In this, we are reminded that every man and woman in power — the President, the Congress, our respective Governors, all of them — are the EQUALS of those they represent, and the power they wield is BORROWED from their constituency. Independence Day reminds us that even in this day where people feel justified in “ruling” over one another, our government was formed for the express purpose of guaranteeing that this would never happen, that there would never be another king in America, whether they feel justified in declaring their kingship or not.

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T Minus Three Days and Counting…

election

So. Election Day is Tuesday. And I’ve got to make a decision because, quite frankly, I haven’t done so yet, and time’s running out.

But before I even start my rant, a few definitions.

Libertarian — the philosophy that government’s power to intrude upon the lives of private citizens should be as limited as possible. This is the view that government’s legitimate purpose is merely to serve as a buffer, a barrier between my life and your life, between the individual’s life and the majority’s lives, and between our collective lives and the lives of foreign nations. It’s the philosophy of “I am the boss of me”. In this philosophy, the role of an elected representative is that of a steward, someone who sees himself as the EQUAL of the person he represents, and who exercises authority on their behalf, benefit — not unlike a stock broker, who may be smarter with money than you are, but nonetheless is bound to invest as YOU see fit.

Authoritarianism — the philosophy that government’s power to intrude upon the lives of private citizens is, to a greater or lesser degree, legitimate so long as you have enough support. This view belies equality, in my view, as it necessitates that otherwise-equal citizens gain superiority by being elected to public office. It’s the philosophy of “I am the boss of me AND you.” When an authoritarian gets elected, they are (in their mind) given the power to dictate terms to private lives, mandate an external morality, mandate redistribution of wealth, that sort of thing. In essence, an authoritarian sees government as a tool to legitimately RULE people.

Having covered that…

First decision is… do I even vote at all? If I decline to vote, I help and hurt all campaigns equally — which is to say, not at all. I’m held harmless for endorsing a candidate and permitting the harm that I’m convinced they will do. But I believe in being active in the political process — not a duty per se, but a right to have my voice heard. I always have the option of not voting, if I can’t come to consider any option viable, but if at all possible I’d prefer to politically say my piece.

But, if I’m voting, who do I vote for?

Clinton is a nonstarter from jump. Rare is the day that I vote Democrat — not because of the party, but because of the person — but I have been known to vote for the Democrat if I think they’re worthy of my support. My former sheriff in Arkansas can attest to that. That said, Clinton has never demonstrated herself worthy of my support, not even remotely. She’s an authoritarian, first and foremost. Beyond that, she’s a redistributionist, a social justice warrior, a liar, a thief, a hypocrite. She’s negligent of her responsibilities, and she thinks the law doesn’t apply to her. She’s an elitist who has completely forgotten that she is not entitled to ANYTHING from the American people, but rather that every stitch of political power she has EVER wielded is on LOAN to her from the American people, both those who voted for her and those who did not.

So… no 🙂

Jill Green’s another that’s a no from jump. Some libertarians would like you to believe that she’s got libertarian qualities, and maybe she advocates some libertarian POLICIES, but when it comes to core PRINCIPLES that inform those policies, she’s so authoritarian as to practically be totalitarian.

This segues to Gary Johnson — the Libertarian Party’s candidate. Not so much. While LP had a good shot at legitimacy with Austin Petersen (my run-away favorite from this election cycle), they sacrificed libertarian principles to go with name recognition. The further the election has gone, the more Johnson has proven himself to be a principle authoritarian that flirts with libertarian policy when it suits him.

So… Darrell Castle? Not so much. I LOVE what he has to say morally, but in policy — again, authoritarian. It seems to be a running theme this cycle. While Castle would likely be very libertarian in a number of his policies, he does advocate for legislating morality, which God made a very voluntary, relational thing. As far back as the Garden of Eden, He commanded not to eat of a particular Tree… but then left it up to us to choose to obey or NOT obey, and to accept the consequences of our choice. Morality has ALWAYS been about relationship — between us and God, between us and our friends and loved ones, between us and total strangers. It’s necessarily BIASED, so it’s a serious problem when you try to enforce biased morality with a legal system that’s fundamentally UNbiased. Besides which, Castle is a write-in for my state — with access to enough electoral votes to win the election, but not officially on the ballot in Alabama. This presents a bit of a problem for me, as it makes him both a viable candidate AND non-viable. I already have issues with him being president, so to cast a decidedly losing vote for somebody that I can’t even guarantee my support for — that, in my mind, would be WORSE than not voting at all.

And that brings me to Trump. Heh.

If you’ve followed my Facebook AT ALL, you’ve seen all my commentary already, but to sum it up… Trump is an authoritarian. He’s never held public office before, but he HAS been in the public eye for his entire career in business. And in all that time, he’s never demonstrated even the SLIGHTEST tendency toward stewardship. He handles investor money in such a way that it benefits him… and hopefully, his investors. Ya know, as a bonus. If it DOESN’T benefit his investors, well, he can live with that. He’s still huge. He’s still tremendous. His investors will get over it, because he’ll make them great again.

Yeah.

See, I couldn’t care less that he’s arrogant — that has no bearing on his ability to perform the task at hand (although it does speak to his lack of stewardship, which requires a bit of humility). I couldn’t care less that he’s not well-spoken — many brilliant people aren’t, and yes, Trump is brilliant. I couldn’t care less about the media’s crucifixion of him — the vast majority of the stories are, well, trumped up. What I care about is, will this man represent ME — whether I support him or REFUSE to support him, as is the foundation of representative government — or will he represent himself in my name?

So in case you’re keeping score, I’ve got nobody that I can vote for for president.

But what about VICE president?

Well, you got Tim Kaine who, if it were possible, is even WORSE than Clinton, both in principle and in policy. Same with Bill Weld, who’s even more authoritarian than Johnson, and very anti-gun to boot — very scary combination. The VPs for Castle and Green? I ain’t got a clue, really.

But Mike Pence?

Finally, there’s somebody on the list that I can actually get behind. Granted, he does have his authoritarian ways, but he demonstrates a libertarian streak in two key areas — immigration, and taxation.

In 2006, Pence forwarded a radical immigration plan that would curtail illegal immigration by streamlining it… but requiring the process to be started in the immigrant’s country of origin. In other words, the illegal COULD LEGALIZE, but he would have to self-deport BEFORE he could become legal. I thought that plan was BRILLIANT, as it addresses the real problem of illegal immigration while offering redemption to illegals WITHOUT it being amnesty, and also taking a libertarian stance regarding those who legitimately want to immigrate. It put the power to make amends squarely in the hands of the one who broke the law in the first place. HUGE points for me.

Then there’s taxation. Pence is one of the few politicians at his level of government who favors the FAIRtax, a consumption-side tax that replaces the mandated income tax with a national sales tax, leaving control over taxation in the hands of taxpayers. Now, the typical libertarian stance on taxes is that “taxation is theft”. I would kinda disagree. Taxation ITSELF is not theft, but HOW you tax — i.e. do you take it without consent, or do you allow the taxpayer the decision of how, or IF, they want to pay. FAIRtax makes high marks here. Don’t wanna pay tax at the grocery store? Grow a garden. You make your own food, you keep money that would otherwise go to tax, AND you remove yourself as a potential welfare burden. It’s man’s nature to try and scam the system, and under the current system such tendencies hurt the country, but the FAIRtax actually BENEFITS from that tendency. It’s wins, all around.

Now, these aren’t marijuana stances — policies where, like Johnson, you can have authoritarian principles but like the policy. No, with both immigration and taxation, your policy HAS to reflect your principle, because they both go to the core of how you as a politician see your constituent (current or potential), and how you see yourself in that light. Current immigration sees the politician as the host and the immigrant as the guest. Current taxation sees the politician as the employer and the taxpayer as the employee. Both of Pence’s revisions necessitate a view of politician and constituent being EQUAL, neither superior to the other. They don’t work — they don’t even make SENSE — with any other dynamic.

So while I can’t support any of the current presidential crop, my choice for vice president is VERY confident — Mike Pence. What this means for Tuesday? That’s what I’ve got to figure out. Do I want Pence enough that I can justify a vote for Trump? Or does Trump, as frontman on the ticket, trump Pence? I dunno. But I’ve only got a few days to get it together.

Categories: Government, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Casting a “wasted” vote…

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Okay, I’m real tired of fellow Christians trying to shoehorn me into casting a “lesser of the evils” vote for Trump, because Hillary will X or Johnson can’t Y or Who in the world is Z? So let me bring this question front and center with the following illustration…

The Body of Christ has become incredibly Laodecian. Sure, there are a few hold-outs that truly honor the God they claim to love, but for the most part, the church is overrun with pseudo-Christians that simply wear a title but don’t actually live the life.

Now, your respective collective is electing new leadership. The Catholic Pope is retiring. The Orthodox Patriarch has died. The President of the Southern Baptist Convention is stepping down. Whatever the church, whatever the reason, you find yourself having to elect new leadership… and your choices are all bad ones.

There are two extremely popular frontrunners. The first is one who’s very likely a closet atheist, whose only intent is to bring the church to ruin, but he is popular because he tickles the ears of many Laodecian believers. The second is a televangelist who claims to love God but shows very little interest in actually obeying Him. This guy preaches strongly against all the popular sins, but lives life as if his doctrinal positions are matters of convenience, not born out of any true submission to Christ. He tickles a completely different set of ears.

There are also a handful of also-rans who fall in a range roughly between these two front runners, and you can’t stomach ANY of them… but then there’s this one guy. Few people know his name, and he’s not even on all the ballots, but of everybody in the race, he’s the only one, the ONLY one, that visibly honors God with his life, even when that honor brings him inconvenience or even pain. You’re convinced that the guy doesn’t stand a chance — not with the Laodecian voters, and not with a God that has pretty much left the church to go the way of the Pharisees.

Time comes for you to vote. Everybody in your cliche tries to push you toward the televangelist or the closet atheist, but you want to honor God with your vote. Do you vote for the televangelist because it’s less likely that he’ll bring the church to ruin? Or do you vote for the one that you’re convinced would honor God with his position, even if you’re sure he’s not going to get the vote?

This is where I am with the whole Trump/Clinton/Also-rans thing. Feel free to vote your candidate. Feel free to vote the lesser of the evils, if you feel it wise. But never, for a second, think that my vote for X is a vote for Hillary, just because it’s not for Trump. Don’t think you can shoehorn me with strawman arguments or fear tactics. I have only one aim — to honor the principles that this nation was founded upon. If I don’t believe your candidate of choice will do that, your candidate will not get my vote. Period. You wouldn’t ask me to betray my faith for the more popular church leader. Don’t ask me to betray my patriotism for the more popular presidential candidate.

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How “compassion” is destroying America, or “Why I’m a libertarian”

Yes, there is a reason why that word is in quotes. First, though, a definition…

Compassion is actually a compound word, joining “com” (meaning “with” or “together”) and “passion” (meaning “suffering”). So, quite literally, the word means “to suffer with” or “to suffer together”.

Now, most people believe they know what compassion is. When they see someone hurting, they hurt. The most basic of them stop there and call that compassion. Not so much. Compassion moves us to action — to not just hurt from the sidelines, but to get involved in those who are hurting.

Those who “do something about it”… yeah, THEY’RE the ones who are compassionate!

Not so much. And that’s the part that’s destroying America. See, we’re johnny-on-the-spot in pointing out somebody else’s hypocrisy, but we’re kinda slow at recognizing our own, and nowhere is this as evident (to those who are looking for it) than in our politics.

See, I was discussing with some friends the concept of mandated vaccines. My position is that the government has no place to force people to get vaccinated, because that individual’s body is sovereign territory. Though the government does have the authority to protect an unwilling third party from this person’s “stupidity”, it does NOT have the authority to tell this person that they cannot be “stupid”. The subject of public schooling came up, and how unvaccinated students endanger the rest of the population, and that the only way that they could both protect the right of a student to be unvaccinated and the right of the other students is to deny unvaccinated students access to the public school system.

Yep. I totally agree.

I can just imagine the guy I was talking with turning blue and swallowing his tongue. “You’d deny a child an education? Don’t you care?”

My thinking, of course, is that while your body and your property are sovereign territories, as soon as you step out into public, you are in shared territories — places where your sovereign rights end where another person’s sovereign rights begin (thank you, Oliver Wendell Holmes). This is how I can stand against seat belt laws but support drunk driving laws, and support both the denial of vaccination and the denial of access to public education.

“Where’s your compassion? Those seat belts keep people safe. Those vaccines protect innocent children. That homeless person has no food. X person needs Y help. Don’t you care?”

Well, yes. I care deeply. But I don’t care so much that I’m going to deny your rights while I am fighting for theirs. And that’s precisely what’s wrong with America today — far too many people are unwilling to say that when it becomes inconvenient. It’s absolutely hypocritical.

Progressives see the suffering of the homeless, or the indigent, or the oppressed, and the hurt in their heart. Their response is to dig into public funds supplied by mandated taxes and seek to relieve that suffering — to mitigate the consequences of happenstance and poor judgment by forcibly rolling those consequences onto somebody who didn’t sign up for them. They just can’t watch the suffering of someone who is disabled (or simply didn’t maintain their health), or someone who walks into a desert to cross a border illegally, so rather than letting them deal with the consequences of life, and rather than getting personally involved, they bail these people out of those consequences… by rolling those consequences onto shoulders that they presume are strong enough to bear it. Compassionate as heck to the person receiving the aid — not so compassionate to the taxpayer being forced to provide it. Their justification? “They don’t need/deserve compassion as much as X”.

Conservatives are much the same. They see the suffering that drugs and alcohol represent, that prostitution and gambling brings, and institute prohibitions. They see people struggling all over the world, abused by tyrannical regimes, and they send in the military to rescue them. Though their “compassions” are different, their response is similar — to mitigate the consequences of happenstance and poor judgment by legislating against the actions that cause such pain and suffering. They just can’t bear to watch marriages fall apart due to Daddy taking time with a hooker, or babies being raised by drug addicted Mommies, so they make these things illegal. They can’t bear to see a people struggling under the weight of an oppressive government, so they “intervene”. Just like progressives, they cannot bear to witness people unjustly suffering the consequences of life, so they look for ways to prevent those consequences or mitigate them… not by getting involved personally, but by rolling those consequences onto shoulders that they presume are strong enough to bear it. Their justification? “It’s for their own good.”

The heart of this problem is that we as a nation do not understand the fundamental concept of compassion — again, which means to suffer with the suffering. That’s a natural side effect of compassion, a necessary CONSEQUENCE of it. But we don’t like consequences. We love to shift blame, to shirk responsibility, all while claiming credit for a job well done.

Oh, make no mistake about it, none of us want to see somebody else suffering… but we’re rather reluctant to share that suffering ourselves. So our response is either one of two things — to spread the consequences over the taxpayer base, or to prevent the actions that lead to those consequences. That way, no matter who we want to help with whatever suffering, we don’t have to suffer with them.

Makes perfect sense… as long as you don’t dig deep enough to find the hypocrisy. Because when we put this logic into practice, we find that we can’t forcibly spread our compassions to others without denying compassion to those we force our compassions upon. In other words, we can’t relieve suffering without causing suffering to others because we don’t want ourselves to suffer. Ultimately, we’re hypocrites.

That’s not to say that there aren’t bastions of true compassion left in America, of course. Churches. Soup kitchens (often church-funded). Foreign missions. Pro-bono clinics. GoFundMe and the like (for the most part). Charities, true charities, that operate NOT on taxpayer monies but strictly on donation. These are the people that are truly suffering with those who suffer. They get out their and they feel the pain that others feel. They provide food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and job placement, seeking to relieve burdens without themselves becoming a burden.

And how do we respond to such glowing examples of humanity? We regulate their gifts of food through the Health Department, or permits and business models to (pre-emptively) protect the rights of for-profit industries. We dig into these charities and issue mandates on how they do what they voluntarily do… at the taxpayer’s expense. Rather than us physically share in the suffering of others — to actually work a soup kitchen or personally pick somebody up for a ride to a job interview or take missions trips ourselves to foreign lands to help liberate an oppressed people — we roll it over onto the taxpayer who has no choice but to shoulder part of our “suffering”.

America is DYING of a false sense of compassion, its liberties being sold cheaply because although we know how to “feel” compassionate, we refuse to ACT with compassion.

The single greatest example of true compassion, of course, is the sacrifice of Christ, but I dare say that this example is incomplete without the reality of Hell. See, without Hell, the sacrifice of Christ really has no meaning. “The Cross saves us!” Absolutely… but from what? Unless there are consequences to sin, and unless God is willing to allow us to suffer those consequences, then the Cross means nothing.

Of course, our progressive example would be “God is compassionate, so He will forgive whether we repent or not” — bailing us out of the consequences. Similarly, our conservative example is “God is compassionate, so He will make us to repent” — pre-empting the consequences. Truth is, though, God IS compassionate because He shared in our suffering… and allows us the opportunity to make that choice ourselves, KNOWING the consequences of our rejection and dreading them, but allowing them anyway. Out of love.

See, God hates the consequences of sin, just like we in America hate the consequences of life. But God demonstrates compassion by feeling pain with those who feel pain, and rolling up His sleeves and personally getting involved. We, unfortunately, are reluctant to love the way God loves. We steal liberty for the sake of granting liberty, stealing rights for the sake of granting rights, stealing compassion for the sake of granting compassion. We’re quick to point this out in others, but we turn a blind eye to it in ourselves.

So, plugging this into how “compassion” is destroying America, how do we fix compassion? Quite simply, to do it like God does it — to love like God loves. We get involved. We give of our own time, our own resources, and never expect or demand that somebody does our job for us. Our military is for national defense only — not for sending into a conflict that is not inherently ours. We stop regulating “help”, recognizing that our charities aren’t required to help in the first place. We allow people to make their own choices… and live with the consequences of them. Make no mistake, I’m NOT suggesting that we throw people to the wolves, but when we exercise compassion, we exercise honest compassion, suffering with those who are suffering — never creating suffering so that we don’t have to suffer as much.

Loving how God loves, in our politics just as in our everyday lives.

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Some not-so-random thoughts…

When in life, it becomes necessary for a people to politically “divorce” themselves from each other, and to reclaim a place that’s always been theirs — separate from their “divorcees” but equal to them, owning the exact same rights that God gave them all — common decency requires that these people should tell their former country what drove them to seek divorce.

We believe these truths to be common-sensical and irrefutable…

  1. That all people are inherently equal
  2. That our Creator gave us all certain rights that cannot be taken away, rights which fall generally into one of three categories…
    1. Life
    2. Liberty
    3. The pursuit of happiness
  3. That to protect these rights, people institute governments which have NO POWER of their own, except what power the people LOAN to them
  4. That whenever any government abuses its borrowed power, the people who loaned it that power have every right to either change the government or abolish it entirely, and to form a new government in its place, based on such principles and defining (giving AND limiting) such powers as would see the people’s rights once again protected.

Now, common sense dictates that people should NOT change or abolish their governments on a whim — and in fact, history proves this, in that people would rather suffer injustice (so long as they are able) than to rise up against the government that they are used to.

But when the government has a long track record of abuse, to the point where the people feel that they no longer own their own lives but are in fact owned by their government, it is their right — their DUTY — to abolish that government, and to create a new one in its place that WILL protect their ownership of their own lives.

***

I’m sure most of you realize this, but these words aren’t really mine at all. Rather, this is the first part of the Declaration of Independence, written and signed two hundred forty years ago this Monday. I realized that MANY people in the US today have little time or desire to sift through all the “these” and “thous” of the original language, so I thought it beneficial to put the thoughts of the Declaration into today’s terms, to demonstrate just how RELEVANT the Declaration is, even in this day when politicians are claiming that our rights change with the times.

As if.

1776

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Consistently Inconsistent

Lemme warn you at the outset, this is gonna be long and rambling. I’m on night shift, and at a post where there’s nothing to do but write, so yeah — be forewarned 😉

Anyway…

Follow my posts long enough, and you’ll get a sense for my worldview. I’m first and foremost a disciple of Christ, and something of an amateur Christian apologist. I’m also a devoted husband and father, a passable author of speculative fiction (aka “the weird stuff”), and a bullheaded small government conservative.

Personally, I find all of these things vital parts of what I consider an internally consistent worldview. I mean, I don’t compartmentalize this spiritual view away from that political stance, or this role away from that aspiration. Each portion of my worldview informs all other parts, and all parts are interconnected and, for the most part, interchangeable.

Of course, I’m used to liberals accusing me of being inconsistent, a la “How can you call yourself pro-life when you’re a supporter of gun rights and capital punishment?” I try my best to explain it to them, but they’re generally more interested in leveling accusations of hypocrisy than trying to understand how I logically reconcile one view with the other. So I’m generally left with shrugging it off and going my way, letting them think of me what they will.

It’s a little harder to do, though, when I get the same accusations from my conservative friends. I sometimes get accused of being a closet liberal, or someone who’s play-acting at being a Christian, all because my views don’t jibe with theirs. Ultimately, it comes down to the same problem that I have with the typical liberal — they’re not interested in the logic; they just know that the end result of that logic doesn’t align with theirs, and so they let fly the slings and arrows.

Never is this more true than when I’m discussing my views on vices — gambling, prostitution, recreational drug use and the like. For context, let me say this at the outset — I’m completely AGAINST the illegalization of vices, regardless of what that vice might be.

See there? Closet liberal. Play-acting at being a Christian. It would seem so, wouldn’t it? 😉

Thing is, nothing could be further from the truth. As a Christian, and as a small government conservative, I find it an absolutely APPALLING MISUSE of government to try and dictate somebody’s life to them — particularly, the stupidity that the individual might want to partake in.

As a Christian, I understand how stupid sin really is. Sin is a momentary indulgence that carries with it long lasting consequences — strife with our neighbors and strangers, pain and suffering for our loved ones, a broken relationship with our Creator, death, eternal separation from everything we hold dear. Pick your poison, and sin will deliver. But for as stupid as sin is, God loves us enough to call us to REJECT sin… and then allow us the choice to obey to our benefit, or disobey to our detriment. As much as God loves us, He could MANDATE that we obey, program us so that disobedience would not be possible, and yet He DOESN’T.

So as a Christian, I am tee-totally against sin… and yet, my politics do not and WILL not reflect a mandate against it. Many of my Christian friends can’t wrap their heads around this. Why wouldn’t I support Godly laws, making it a crime to sell sex or to consume hurtful drugs? I mean, it’s for their own GOOD, for Pete’s sake! How can I be against that?!?

But how can I presume to mandate something that God Himself allows? Yes, absolutely, He will PUNISH those who reject His commandments and partake in sin… but He allows them that option. How can I then DISallow that option?

The same goes for prostitution. Selling is legal. Screwing around is legal. So why isn’t selling screwing around legal? Quite simply, it’s because moral people in government have good intentions, but manifest those intentions in totalitarian ways. Rather than exemplifying good sexual character, fidelity, respect for marriage, and respect for one’s self and others — and ENCOURAGING these values in their constituency — these well-meaning politicians seek to MAKE their constituency comply with these values, citing the families that prostitution destroys, and other moral tragedies.

I have JUST as much compassion for these broken families, but if I can’t stop a man from cheating on his wife for free, how can I justify outlawing that man cheating on his wife for a fee?

Recently, I was asked about outlawing Muslim practices — the burka, the institution of Sharia courts, and so on. While I am categorically AGAINST Islam, I don’t feel it’s my place to outlaw the manifestations of that religion, except in places where it might cause harm to an UNWILLING participant. The wearing of a burka, in my opinion, is no more inherently dangerous than the wearing of a ski mask or a scarf around your neck… until you consider security, like in a store or a bank, or when being questioned by law enforcement, same as with a ski mask or a scarf. And Sharia courts? As long as it can be proven that both participants WANT the rule of Sharia over a court case, and as long as the right to OPT OUT of the Sharia ruling is protected (i.e. as long as the Constitution remains predominant to Sharia), this again becomes a case of consent between two individuals of equal rights. For me — also an individual of rights equal to theirs — to misuse government to outlaw the practice of their religion would be to negate equal representation under the law, making them and their religious views inferior to my own.

On and on it goes. Pick your politics, and you’ll find my reasoning to be along similar lines. God commands righteousness of us, absolutely, but He allows us the option to NOT be righteous — to indulge ourselves, to destroy our relationships with others, to cause hurt and hatred and even death. He allows these things NOT because He doesn’t love our victims, but because He loves us as much as He does our victims — enough to give us the opportunity to CHOOSE to renounce our victimization, rather than force that renunciation upon us.

If God allows us this leeway, I find it entirely inconsistent to try and use politics to do what He Himself will not. So I encourage fidelity to God and to our neighbor, and exemplify it as consistently as I can… and then log my vote, my legal mandates, in a way that I think is reflective of God’s mandates.

Make no mistake about it. I believe there is a place in the law for ALL of these things — Sharia versus Constitutional law, recreational drug use, gambling, prostitution, what have you — but that place, in my opinion, IS NOT in the outlawing of what I might consider stupidity. Rather, it’s in how someone’s stupidity might affect somebody who did not choose to be part of it. Just like you can be an idiot drunk on your own property but get arrested when you’re an idiot drunk on PUBLIC property, so the line is with these things.

But… what about God’s law? What about punishing those who sin against Him?

Short answer — it’s not our job. Interestingly enough, the violation of God’s law never resulted in earthly punishment, unless that violation was also a violation of Mosaic law. God’s law is all about our relationship with God, and as God is the one who is offended, God is the one who sits in judgment. Mosaic law, on the other hand, is about our relationship with others. As such, Mosaic law DOES detail earthly punishments.

But note: Mosaic law only applied to the children of Israel, people who claimed to be God’s people. Mosaic law never applied to Gentiles who didn’t care to follow God’s laws, and they were never punished by men for not following God’s laws. You never saw God giving the Israelites the go-ahead to hunt down pagans for worshiping other gods, unless God specifically called them to hunt them down. You never saw God giving the Israelites the go-ahead to pass judgment on the prostitutes of a neighboring country. Mosaic law was all about those who claimed to be God’s people — those who were ultimately the REPRESENTATIVES of God, who had the responsibility of not dragging God’s name through the mud. Violate Mosaic law, and you were making God look bad. That’s why Gentiles in general COULDN’T violate Mosaic law, because they didn’t honor God in the first place, so they weren’t bearing His name while they were tramping around in the mud!

*SIGH* All that to say this. As a Christian, and as a conservative, I find government to be a buffer zone established between myself and my neighbor, equally representing BOTH of us and equally PROTECTING both of us. That means, my neighbor cannot mandate that I abstain from what he considers stupid (a good thing, as most atheists consider the Christian faith itself to be stupid). Similarly, and somewhat inconveniently, I cannot mandate that my neighbor abstain from that which I consider stupid. All that EITHER of us can legitimately do is make sure that our stupidity does not violate the rights of the other.

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“Talk Doesn’t Change Anything.” Seriously?

Double whammy! See there? You didn’t expect to see a blog out of me today, and instead I give you TWO of them, back to back! 😉

Anyway…

I see this complaint all the time on Facebook. When tragedy strikes (Paris and San Bernardino come most readily to mind), people get emotional and show solidarity for the grieving by changing their profile picture or issuing pithy statements. Invariably, there will be those who say that talk doesn’t change anything, that ACTION is what’s called for.

…only, how does action come about?

By… talking. Right?

See, that’s how ideas spread. Somebody considers XYZ truth, finds a way to put that truth into words, shares that truth with someone who finds it agreeable, who in turn shares it with people in THEIR sphere of influence, ad infinitum.

That’s how this nation was born, after all. Any nation can be born in base revolution, but ours was born in ENLIGHTENED revolution, where ideas regarding the future were as vital to the movement as emotions regarding the past were. We didn’t just consider what we were fighting against — we considered what we were fighting toward.

We had Patrick Henry’s famous one-liner to the Virginia Convention — “Give me liberty or give me death!” — which swung the balance of opinion, and served to kickstart Virginia’s participation in the Revolutionary War. We had Thomas Paine’s pamphlet, Common Sense — a mainstay of the rebel colonists, and an inspiration to the authors of American freedom. We had the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers, arguments from both sides of the federalism argument that gave a much-needed tension to the framers of the Constitution, admonishing them to not lean too much in one direction or the other.

We had wisdom. And that wisdom came from ideas. From talk.

But this axiom is not only true for the Revolutionary War. After all, where would slavery in England be without the likes of William Wilberforce? Where would women’s suffrage in America be, but for Susan B Anthony? And where would the Civil Rights movement be if Martin Luther King didn’t “have a dream” and share it with us?

It’s true that Facebook doesn’t have very many luminaries, but to be quite honest, our founding fathers — and mothers — weren’t particularly luminous themselves. But they were informed. They didn’t simply know what they hated. They also knew what they wanted. They had a goal that was BEYOND revolution, BEYOND griping and complaining and “civil disobedience” and what have you. They had an end game, a solution, a conclusion to their struggle that SATISFIED the reasoning for it. And they shared this reasoning with others, who shared it with others, ad infinitum.

“Talk doesn’t change anything”? Bah. Talk can’t help BUT change things. What we need, though, is the right talker. We need people who can put their thoughts into compelling words, with a logic that proves the validity of their argument and with a conviction that will set hearts ablaze. We need a Thomas Paine for this age, a Ben Franklin, a Thomas Jefferson, a Samuel Bryan, a Frederick Douglass, a William Wilberforce, a Martin Luther King. We need people who don’t simply feel or think, but who know WHY they feel or think that way, and can explain that why to others.

Far too many people believe that America will never see another Revolution, another Civil War. While I could hope that this is the case, I expect that it’s not. Tempers are rising, swords are being rattled, and all it will take is the right trigger at the right time, and life as we know it in these “idyllic” United States will come to an end. I’m afraid that it’s inevitable, because no matter how tolerant you are, no matter how pacifistic you try to be, everybody has a limit, a line in the sand that they absolutely WILL NOT CROSS, and when they are PUSHED over that line, they will respond. They will ACT, just as the “talk doesn’t change anything” crowd expects to see.

But not all change is for the better, and THAT is where the power of talk comes into play. When change does come — and it will come, make no mistake — what we change to is at least as important as what we’re changing from. It behooves us all to know NOT just what we want to be rid of, but where we ought to be heading. People complain about economics, but show very little understanding of its principles. That needs to change. And the government itself? It’s almost impossible to find people, not just on the street but in Washington DC itself, that actually understand what our government is SUPPOSED to be — its nature, its limitations. THAT needs to change.

Revolt if you must, and however you must, but if you do, you owe it to yourself and to your posterity to know as much about where you want to go as what you want to leave behind.

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As if today were your last…

Most who follow me know that I have an open heart surgery coming up sometime in the near future. Could be January, could be this summer, but who knows, really? Well, I’ve had some pains recently — pains that I couldn’t tell whether they were heart related or stress related. These pains concerned me enough to move up my January cardiologist appointment to this morning. Mary, being the devoted wife that she is, decided to join me. My two older kids, being homeschooled, tagged along as well.

So the four of us crammed into nearly every small room they had at Southeast Cardiology. The kids got to see what the inside of my heart looked and sounded like via ultrasound (…and all God’s people said “ewww”). The doctor and his nurse practitioner took great pains to explain why my pains were NOT heart related, pointing out that if they were radiant heart pain, they would manifest “here” and “here”. They also reminded me that TRUE symptoms of my condition would be passing out, shortness of breath, and swelling on my ankles. Being as I’ve got cycle training coming up (running a tactical course in full gear, shooting targets while wearing a gas mask, etc), my doctor thought it prudent to do a walking stress test on me, to see EXACTLY where my heart was and what it was doing, and to give me a good estimate on how well I would tolerate the tac course.

Still no restrictions on my activity, though. All to the good 😉

While this is going on, I’m getting feed updates regarding the shooting in California, where three people are suspected of shooting up a Christmas party and killed fourteen people. It didn’t escape my notice that the shooters were of Arab descent, or that they were Muslim. Not that that is necessarily a determining factor, mind you, but it is rather telling when the news goes out of their way to AVOID drawing that distinction, preferring instead to call this an act of “workplace violence”.

Just so we’re clear, any time you talk your girlfriend/wife into shooting up your workplace with you, dressed in what the news calls “assault gear”, armed to the teeth, and with multiple bombs in various stages of assembly in your house and vehicle… well, that’s not “workplace violence”. That’s terrorism.

Now, these two situations — my heart and San Bernardino — may seem to have nothing to do with each other, but there is a single common thread to both of them. Life can end in an instant. Whether you see the risk to your life coming, or whether it sneaks up on you during a verse of “Silent Night”, the end result is the same. Dead is dead, and you won’t see it until it’s looking you square in the eye.

This time, more than any other, we are reminded just how fragile life is. Some of us gather with loved ones to celebrate the holidays — yes, I’ve got a “Merry Christmas” cued up and ready for all of yall 😉 — and some of us pine for those who are not with us for one reason or another. This season can be uplifting, depressing, peaceful, chaotic, all at once and more! But like the situations I mentioned above, there’s a single thread that runs through them — that these times are fleeting. There’s not a single moment that will last LONGER than a single moment, so it behooves us to treat each moment as if it is our last.

In keeping with that, I want to take a moment (after what has already become a thesis paper hahaha) to say some things that I currently have a moment to say, just on the off chance that this moment is my last.

First and foremost, I thank God for giving me life, and my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for saving it. Each second, I realize, is borrowed. Each second is one that I do not deserve, and yet I’m gifted with by a Giver who has no obligation to continue to do so. As the psalmist says, “This is the day that the Lord hath made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.” No matter what this day may bring, be it pleasure or pain, it’s infinitely better than not having this day at all. I praise You and thank You.

To my wife, Mary, I say thank you as well for the gift of… well, you. You may downplay the value of that gift, and you certainly inflate my worthiness of receiving it, but the fact is that you took someone who had already had one failed marriage and gave him a fresh start at life and love. We can dicker on the details of that, but the fact remains — I was used, and you treated me as if I were new, and I love you for that and a whole lot more. Thank you for pushing me, for believing in me when I don’t believe in myself, for hoping when I feel like I am without hope, for pointing out my stupidity — and doing so gently hehe — when I’m not seeing the world and myself in the right light.

To my kids, I say thank you for the opportunity to be your Daddy, for loving me unconditionally, even when I mess up, or scream my head off like a banshee, or spank the everlovin’ mess out of you. Being a Daddy is hard. Like anything else in life, you have to consider what you’re doing and when (and why) you’re doing it, but there’s a greater risk here. When you mess up in life, you often only mess yourself up. But when you mess up as a Daddy, you might mess up your kids as well. I always worry if something I say or do might break your spirit, or discourage you, or make it hard for you to believe in yourself or others. But at the same time, I always worry about going TOO SOFT on you, about not demanding enough respect out of you — for me, for others, for yourself. I worry about not pushing you hard enough to exceed the limits that you set for yourself, to be GREATER than you ever dreamed of being. I worry about being too much… and about being not enough… because you guys are the greatest work that I could ever hope to do in this life, the greatest way that I could honor my God and Savior, and this above ALL things I want to get right.

To my readers, my fellow writers, my brothers and sisters in Christ, and those who follow my blog just because I’m a pretty cool cat, I want to say thank you for being a part of my life, and allowing me to be a part of yours. Our debates and discussions, our shared dreams and aspirations, they help to color a world that would be much more drab without them. Scripture says that iron sharpens iron (LOL Dave, you see what I did there?), and it’s inevitable that the sharpening casts off sparks. but those sparks needn’t start a fire. It behooves us to USE those times of sharpening, to recognize the rough areas in our arguments, our views, and our lives, in order that we might grow from them. We shouldn’t cut ourselves off from people who disagree, and we should NEVER discount their arguments — however asinine we might consider it to be. We never know when WE might be the idiot in the conversation, so it’s always prudent that we consider the possibility.

Make no mistake about it — I have ZERO intention of today being my last day. I have every intention of intimidating my daughters’ boyfriends, of tossing the football with my son as he enters college on a full ride scholarship (“Roll Tide”, even if you want to cry “War Eagle” hehe), of singing at my daughters’ weddings, and embarrassing (or officiating) my son at his, of bouncing grandkiddos on my knee, of living to see my loving wife ACCEPT her grey hairs. But I have no control over when I’ll die. My cardiologist is evidence of that, and San Bernardino is proof.

So if today WERE my last, this is what I’d want everybody to know…

  1. God is in control. All the time, in every situation. He is sovereign and just. He sees the big picture, even more clearly than we can see our own little corner of it. He knows what will truly bless us, and what prayers for blessing, if answered, would WITHHOLD blessings from others. He knows what good my healing would do, and what good my healing would prevent. He knows who I touch with my life, and who might be touched with my death. I’d be a fool to think I have a better plan than Him, and I’m no fool 😉
  2. Mandates are a poor substitute for true charity. As a Daddy, you sometimes tell your kids to be nice to one another, to play nice, to share their things, and you see VIVIDLY how little they actually want to obey. When they do things because they “have” to, they do them half-heartedly, and those who receive that half-hearted obedience can tell. What blesses their hearts is when you give cheerfully, eagerly, with the other person’s blessing being first and foremost. I saw this played out in stark relief today in a YouTube video, featuring a pizza delivery guy who received a $700 tip from a church. Government assistance could’ve “entitled” him to more than that, and every month, but him getting what the law says he “deserved” wouldn’t have done what this tip did. His heart was touched — and maybe, his life, changed — by the EAGER giving of a few church folk. You might make fewer enemies if you’re forced to be nice, but genuinely WANTING to be nice is where you make your friends.
  3. You are free — already, wherever you live, with or without the government’s help. You always have been free. And you always will be free. The only way for you to NOT be free is to consider yourself so. Even the poorest slave, bound in chains and treated like an animal, can be as free as he wants to be, because freedom is NOT the lack of chains but the recognition that, aside from God Himself, only YOU can own you. Your mind, your life, the fruits of your labors… YOU determine who you are, what you think, what you do. You cannot be forced to be something that you fundamentally are not. You may choose to ALLOW yourself to be that person or to give of yourself — to your benefit or detriment — but it is unjust for anyone to try and “make” you do so. This goes for ALL areas of life, from religion (i.e. true conversion versus swordpoint conversions) to politics (libertarian versus authoritarian) to economics (charitable giving and taxation versus government mandated redistribution). It behooves us to always strive for freedom — to maintain our own, and to give honor to that of others.

I pray that today is not my last day, but if it were, I’d want my life to matter to those who matter to me, to not grieve for my passing, but to praise God that I was here for as long as I was, and that I touched their lives in whatever way that I did. The truest mark of a Godly man — or of ANY man, for that matter — is not what he says or does, but the visible love that he has for his family, his friends, and even his enemies. To love those who are lovable is easy. To love those you don’t know — to truly love them, not merely throw money in their direction — is harder. But to love those who hate you… that’s something that God has to do in your life, and its something that has the power to change the world. Christ Himself shows us that.

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