Diigo Links

Thursday, May 27, 2004



A lot of what I've been obsessing on the past few days/weeks/months/years (and then blogging here) is pretty far fetched. I've had misgivings about posting some of the ideas publicly - even if they're not mine. I've been spurned on by a steady and confident stream of emails from friends and relatives reflecting their religious/political convictions. I figure I have the same right/obligation to put forward my ideas on the subject in response. I choose to post them on a pull/broadcast media rather than using a push/narrowcasting media like email. No judgment there, just a different way of communicating. I've noticed a tagline on a few emails "not ashamed" or something to that effect. I guess this is a somewhat self-conscious, defiant remark used by someone with convictions that they feel are under threat. I don't have a "not ashamed" tagline for my website. Maybe I should. But I think the public nature of broadcasting implies as much.

The misgivings I've had about posting opinions here have been less about my confidence in the ideas I'm writing about/linking to than they have been about my ability to write about them in a correct way. I'm always concerned - very concerned - that I actually communicate what I think. I don't think my editing process is rigorous enough to achieve this 100% of the time (as it only consists of trying to remember to spell-check before I post, I'm probably well short of 100% accuracy). So maybe I need a prescript to everything I write. If I had one it might look like this:

Consistency and being "right" all the time is much less important (or possible) than thinking and making informed, timely decisions (a point that I hope makes it into the `04 presidential debate). The present is a very short time in which we spend all of our time - it is "the nick of time". The past is laid out in a turbulent, folding tapestry behind us. The future advances as a vast number of unwoven colored threads (see previous Moby Dick quote below for a place for God in all of this). In the act of being woven of this cloth we can only make an effort to color it, with the best of our ability, with taste and dignity.

The quality of our history is not just based on the integrity of individual acts. It's also based on the number of them (thread count). So as well as trying to write down what I think here, I'm also trying to be allowed to do that often and freely. And although it seems like an easy thing to do in the "Free World", it's not. Freedom commands responsibility. Our freedom to live, as is often pointed out, was hard-bought by the fighting lives of many soldiers. Our obligation to exercise that freedom is to them. To rise to that obligation is to justify their sacrifice. To do it well is to celebrate their achievement.

But lets be clear about what was fought for. What was originally fought against was "taxation without representation". But then the founding fathers, having won an impossible fight, put their heads together to figure out what would be required to form a more perfect union that could support a stable market economy.

Key to their findings, and foremost in the resultant constitution were:
Freedom of Speech
Freedom of Religion (or the right to believe what you want)
Separation of Church and State (which is the only way to retain Freedom of Religion - think about it, name one pluralistic mono-theist theocracy - there are none because it can't happen )

Most everything else follows on from there.

With that in mind it should be clear that although it may be well-meaning to express a desire to see all of America on the same team and rooting for the same God - it's anathema to the very core of the American way. ("under God" was inserted into the pledge of allegiance (written free of reference to God in 1892) in the late 1950's to allow the US to differentiate itself from the God-less communist states we were combating at the time. In my opinion it was a reactionary and cynical move that undermined our faith in Rule of Law - which is what Freedom is actually based on.) We must not let a passionate belief become a mandate to eclipse the Freedom we all value so much. It's downright disrespectful to those who fought for it.

It is a beautiful expression of respect to passionately state your beliefs. But it's incredibly important not to allow the freedom of speech to be used to decide to eliminate that freedom.

Once we choose to relinquish freedom it's very difficult to get back. If you intend to fervently believe in a message, try to confirm that the message is at least in agreement with your beliefs (never mind reality).

It's extremely important to keep the words, ideas, beliefs flowing. The health of our society can be measured by the diversity and velocity of ideas flowing from it - just as the health of our economy is measured by the diversity of commerce and velocity of currency. In that spirit I'm posting what I can, not so much because I believe in what I post but because I believe the act of publishing is important. I hope I do so in a fair and balanced way, or at the very least - and most importantly - within the confines of the law. Without the Rule of Law we are lost to Mob Rule and, contrary to populist belief, "justice and liberty for all" cannot exist in a majority-rules environment (hence the electoral college and various other ingeniously frustrating checks and balances in democracies around the world).

Only those of us free of sin are ultimately of any moral authority. The rest of us should remain humble - quietly not throwing our stones.












4 comments:

Diogenes said...

Very interesting. Someday when I have more time, we'll have to get into the whole electoral college issue, but for the most part, well said!

Keep the information flowing, friend!

Anonymous said...

I make no boasts about the perfection of the electoral college. It's one of many very human flaws that I believe are essential in keeping the system humane. There may be ways of making democracy more perfect, but the closer people come to perfection, the further they get from human/e.

Anonymous said...

I make no boasts about the perfection of the electoral college. It's one of many very human flaws that I believe are essential in keeping the system humane. There may be ways of making democracy more perfect, but the closer people come to perfection, the further they get from human/e.

Anonymous said...

I make no boasts about the perfection of the electoral college. It's one of many very human flaws that I believe are essential in keeping the system humane. There may be ways of making democracy more perfect, but the closer people come to perfection, the further they get from human/e.