Archives for posts with tag: personal responsibility

Regarding a bullet list about prohibition that my daughter shared Facebook:

http://www.history.com/news/10-things-you-should-know-about-prohibition?cmpid=Social_FBPAGE_HISTORY_20151205_295901407&linkId=19331652

The fact is, we are free. Also, coercion is evil.

We need some laws for civic tranquility, but mostly, we must count on people to behave according to good order.

Also a fact, the state wields power from the barrel of a gun. We need to consider all laws with this simple test: “Am I willing to force people to obey this law at gunpoint? Further, am I willing to pull the trigger if they don’t?”

Make it personal. Understand the logical conclusion, and consider it.

Is this or that law worth me taking a life over? Your answer should be no for nearly everything.

I’m still reluctant to legalize drugs, but our current status is broke. When something is broke, we must fix it. I see no alternative to legalization. Sure, there will be new problems. Overall, I’ll take the problems rather than participating in the evil of coercion.
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We are all someone’s daughter or someone’s son.
How long will we look at each other down the barrel of a gun.

Some will recognize that line from “You’re the Voice”, written by John Farnham.

Rebecca St. James recorded it,


But Farnham sang it earlier, and at least as well.

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Regarding a Christian’s responsibility, or responsibility of every good person for that matter, we must live rightly personally.

We must live justly, do justice, walk in mercy, show kindness, and keep sight of the fact that we are not the center of the universe; we are not the judge; we must remain humble.

That seems to me to require that I NOT try to impose what is right on anyone else. Just because certain things are obviously good for society, it does not follow that I, or the government, or any other powerful agent should impose on society.

It is all about relationships. Jesus told us to follow Him. Jesus told us to make disciples. It must be about our daily, personal walk and individual relationships.

It’s not about the President. It is not about SCOTUS. It is not about laws. It is about individuals choosing to do what is right and choosing to be involved in the lives of those around them. Involved relationally, not nosily. Involved lovingly, and considerately, not with an eye to gain an edge or leverage. Understanding, not meddling.

BioLogos has reposted this article by Denis Alexander which I must have missed last year. Dr. Alexander has several articles at BioLogos, and in this one he discusses why religion and philosophy are so important to science and facts.

While our genetics determine much about us, our genes do NOT determine who we are. Our choices are much more important to who we are and who we become. We are free moral agents, and we always have the ability to choose to do what is right.

Enjoy Dr. Alexander’s article: http://biologos.org/blog/made-in-the-image-of-god-human-values-and-genomics2

For millennia it was uniquely the pharaoh or the king who was seen as being in the “image of a god” in the polytheistic political systems of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Adad-shum-ussur, a court astrologer and cultic official in the seventh century B.C. royal court of Nineveh, made clear that the Assyrian king Esarhaddon is the very image of Bel (Marduk), the top god of that era:

A (free) man is as the shadow of god, the slave is as the shadow of a (free) man; but the king, he is like unto the (very) image of god.

That understanding is very significant. The ancient perception is still among us. We really do not see ourselves as truly free. We do not see ourselves created in the image of God, but in some shadow form that exists mostly as a slave. No, it is not just the king, not just the emperor, not even the President. It is all of you. We are all created like God, knowing both good and evil. Each, always, with the ability to do good, or to not. Each with the ability to realize our own destiny.

This whole last bit of the article is worth repeating:

Then God said, “Let us make adam [humankind] in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created adam in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. [Genesis 1:26-27].

In its historical context, the implications were revolutionary: the kingly and priestly male roles previously allocated to the privileged few by a pantheon of gods were now being delegated instead by the one creator God to the whole of humanity, male and female. In a stroke the entire ruling and priestly structure of Mesopotamian society was delegitimized. The Imago Dei was being democratized and it was now humankind who were to be the significant players in the arena of earthly life, the mandate to rule underlying their new responsibilities. Above all, humanity was set free by the one true God to determine their own destiny, no longer under the yoke of all-powerful dictators, nor under the baleful astrological control of the moon and stars.

Yet, ever since, humans have become experts at re-enslaving themselves, refusing the responsibilities that come with free-choice and submitting instead to narratives of fate and destiny. It seems ironic that today it is not the creation myths of ancient Babylon but the ideological interpretations of biology that provide the narratives of fate, in which genes “pull” humans toward certain political views and people cannot change their minds because their convictions are “rooted in their physiology.”

“It’s in his or her DNA” is a new phrase becoming increasingly embedded in our language, referring to something that cannot apparently be changed. On Sept. 8, 2012, Brad Pitt was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying that “America is a country founded on guns. It’s in our DNA. It’s very strange but I feel better having a gun.” No it’s not in our DNA, Mr. Pitt, either literally or metaphorically. People have choices — they are the prisoners neither of their genetics, nor of their physiology, nor indeed of their environments. Human beings made in the image of God are free to chart their own destiny in a way that preserves human value and dignity. On that we can leave the last word to Abraham Lincoln: “…nothing stamped with the Divine image and likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on, and degraded, and imbruted by its fellows” (Aug. 17, 1858).

I must emphasize Lincoln: “…nothing stamped with the Divine image and likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on, and degraded, and imbruted by its fellows.

It really isn’t that hard. We are each free. I stand before God the same as all others. I answer for myself, myself alone, to Him, to Him alone.

http://biblehub.com/esv/romans/14.htm

4Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own mastera that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. http://biblehub.com/romans/14-4.htm (The individual verses include the selected commentary notes.)

If we recognize each person individually, if we see each of us “stamped with the Divine image and likeness”, then we cannot treat each other wrongly. We cannot try to rule over or coerce. We will walk in freedom and responsibility, and we will acknowledge, “Life is tough, but it’s tougher if you’re stupid.” If we remember that we all suffer and we all die young, it is a little easier to keep things in perspective.

Just remember, He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Writing for The Independent Institute, Wendy McElroy expounds regarding our human liberties, our freedom. She points out how churchmen helped, in this instance, Spanish historian and Dominican friar Bartolomé de las Casas (1484-1566). She says, “Part of my fondness for Las Casas comes from an insight that occurred to me while reading a collection of his work: namely, all progress toward human freedom can be reduced to the universalization of individual rights.”

She provides good references and states points clearly. Well worth reading. http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=5130

In all instances where choices must be made, the individual must come first. Sure, sometimes a sacrifice is inevitable, but we must guard against subverting any individual to any group.

Remember the old “Life Boat” game? It is never okay to throw anyone out. If I jump out of the boat and swim away, it might be considered noble. (Or, it might be considered suicide.) But if you push me out and whack me with an oar, well, that is murder. It remains murder even if my death allows enough supplies for you and the others to survive just long enough to be rescued. You are and remain factually and morally a murderer, and the others are complicit for allowing you to throw me out. We are all in this together. No one in the boat has the divine right to determine life and death for anyone else. We are all mortals, all equal before the law and our creator. No one has the right to determine rights. We know within ourselves what is ours. It is our duty, our calling, to do what is right with regard to everyman. We must honor every individual, as an individual, every time.

“You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve,” said Aslan. “And that is both honour enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth. Be content.”

― C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian

Isn’t that the key? Be content? Do we not all have the best chance of being content when each of us treats everyone as an equal individual, not as some member of some group or other?

The brutality of the lifeboat is brought into our daily lives by group-politics, so called, identity politics. It is bad. It is coercive. It is against the soul of mankind. It makes us something less than the nobleness of our heritage as free human beings.

I’ll close with this McElroy quote, “As part of human nature, rights are both universal and inalienable; they are not dependent upon government, rulers, laws or customs.”

The Freeman published an interesting story. The Freeman is published by the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE).

Keep Them Down, Keep Them Dependent

How to prevent the young and poor from succeeding

JULY 30, 2014 by ISAAC M. MOREHOUSE

He makes a compelling case.

http://www.fee.org/the_freeman/detail/keep-them-down-keep-them-dependent

If the objective is to hamstring our youth, then what we are doing should work quite well.

This is further evidence that we must rid ourselves of the notions of institutionalized compulsion. We must repeal all truancy laws and empower mothers (and fathers) to educate their children any way they see fit. We must allow children the freedom, with parental guidance, to choose for themselves. (Developmentally appropriate freedom.)

Obviously forcing them to go to school (and punishing their parents if they don’t) doesn’t work. That is, the outcome is semieducated drones that just cannot function as independent, self-sufficient adults.

Since we spend a dozen or two years teaching them to be dependent, what else should we expect?

End truancy.

Orthodox bishop Metropolitan Nicholas:

“Research that is done to challenge God, has the disease of prejudice. Research is done to discover scientific truth. What problem is there with someone wanting to broaden the horizons of their thoughts and knowledge? God is approached better this way. God is not an ideology that we should by all means defend, but we believe in Him because He is Truth. In this sense, even scientific truth reveals Him. If He is still questioned, it is time to find out about Him. A believer who fears scientific research, fears the truth. Perhaps he is a believer who does not believe.”

Biologos.org is an excellent resource.

On Valentine’s Day, they posted this love note regarding the #hamonney debate:

http://biologos.org/blog/origins-news-round-up-for-friday-february-14-2014

I’ll second this one:

http://thefederalist.com/2014/02/06/letting-go-of-the-god-of-the-gaps/  Read the rest of this entry »

I found an article at American Thinker worth pointing out.

http://www.americanthinker.com/2014/01/on_running_from_reality.html

Quoting (Don Sucher):

“Young children often have an aversion to reality. Their ways of running from it are often amusing: the pretend friend, the one that takes their side when things are difficult, and the pretend enemy, the one who takes the blame for their errors and misdeeds.

“Parents traditionally have strived to help their children cope with reality through instruction, emotional support, and abundant love. But today it is increasingly common for parents instead to protect their children from reality as to teach them to effectively deal with it. And such parents typically have come to expect, and receive, support in these efforts from society’s institutions — especially the public schools.”

He goes on to talk about chemical means of avoiding reality, and of misuse of religion. He indicates that it all leads people to abdicate their own responsibility for their own lives. I makes many of us completely dependent upon the government, looking to politicians or other public figures as our “gods.” He says we need people to live up to their personal responsibilities in order to have a free society, and progressivism encourages the opposite of what we need for our free society. I’ll add that progressivism is simply against the human soul. Progressiveness is against all that is good, right, and noble in the individual, in the human soul. (I liken it to Borg. The collective is everything; the individual is nothing.)

It is a good article, but I’m most interested in the part about our societal institutions helping parents who want to shelter their children rather than help the children learn to deal responsibly with reality.

He says precious little. This quote is about all the more he says about the children:

“Too, we see the family structure — once the great bulwark of protection for society’s traditions, and the place where children were taught to face reality as free, independent, adults — under attack.”

It is the “free, independent adults” part that I’m considering. Read the rest of this entry »

Mr. Gene M. Van Son has written a couple of articles for American Thinker. Both are good. This second one, http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/12/business_and_the_gospels.html, is excellent.

He points out how the corporate world is running counter to the principles of good work ethic and good Christian living that used to be the bedrock of Capitalism. He references the Pope and other recent Papal and Catholic writings and emphasis, and points out how it is consistent with traditional Christian and capitalistic thinking.

He mentions Vocation of the Business Leader. The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace prepared it. They call it a reflection. It seems appropriate for each of us to reflect upon it.

He mentions the book’s Six Practical Principles for Business. A bit stuffy, perhaps, but I think these are good principles and worthy of emulation. Number 6 sums up well: Businesses are just in the allocation of resources to all stakeholders: employees, customers, investors, suppliers, and the community.

Our corporate world has lost sight of the long run and the breadth of stakeholders and focuses only on the short term and the monetary shareholders (stockholders).

Sooner or later, the long-term interests will require their due and our shortsighted endeavors will fail. This lesson seems to me the one we should take from recent Papal statements, not some sort of anti-Capitalistic notion.

Personal responsibility and long-term thinking, inclusive of as much of the relevant stakeholders as we can know. That is how each of us must pursue our industry, no matter what it is, no matter the level.

What Are We Doing Wrong for Our Schools?

I’ve written about the first problem before, and will again; our first and most fundamental problem is compulsion. We must repeal all truancy laws, or we can expect no reform to succeed.

Perhaps, though, our biggest problem is being overly emotional and protective of “the children.”

It seems so natural to want to protect and hold up the children, but while they are certainly our children, they are more. They are not ours in any sense of ownership. They are only ours because we are responsible to provide that which parents must provide. We do, in fact, take that too far if we start with emotion and the ideal of doing all “for our children.”

Any sacrifice seems warranted when we know it is for the good of the children, when it increases their chances for success. Of course, taking that a little too far and adding a bit of sentimentality leads inevitably to claims and demands that help only the few in control, in power. Sometimes, the motives of those in power are supposed to be pure, and sometimes they are not intentionally malicious and greedy. But sometimes their motives are even worse, yet they proclaim, “Don’t you want to support the children?” Guilting us with the skill of the most manipulative mother.

Fundamentally, our children our people, persons, citizens, humans in their own right, each an individual entitled to all the rights, privileges, protections, and responsibilities of each of the rest of us.  Read the rest of this entry »

I recommend this article. If you favor war, you should read it and think. If you oppose war, you should read it and reflect if your reasoning is right.

Three years ago,  LEONARD E. READ wrote an article for FEE.org. I’ve used his title for this article. In the article he sets the stage, which is “his” dying moments on a lonely battlefield in Korea. He has a conversation with his conscience, which is all he has left.

In his lead up, Mr. Reed states: “War is liberty’s greatest enemy, and the deadly foe of economic progress. If war be evil there must be a way to avoid it; there must be a rationale, a type of thinking, patterns for living, that lead to peace. These ways cannot be simple or we would invoke them. They are not easily explained or we would know them.”

Read more: http://www.fee.org/the_freeman/detail/conscience-on-the-battlefield#ixzz2eMk4rewC “

Here are some quotes from his conscience:

“Among the cardinal sins, however, is the failure to make earnest attempts at minimizing error.”

“Most persons believe some form of government to be necessary as a means of achieving maximum liberty. But unless they succeed in properly limiting government, they will surrender some – or even all – of their personal rights and responsibilities to it. Unless they understand the nature of coercion – its power only to suppress, restrain, destroy – they will yield to it and lose their ability to act creatively. Government has the necessary and logical function of protecting the property and life of all citizens equally. But if people fail to understand the nature of coercion they will attempt to use this force of government even for creative purposes; they will vainly attempt to use a negating physical force – government – as a means of accomplishing a positive good. Unless they comprehend coercion, many of them will rob in the name of charity, plunder in the name of prosperity, and kill in the name of God.”

“However, as I said before, you should have sought my services sooner. While I, too, am finite and subject to error, I am as close to God as you can get on this earth. It was your task to join with me in order that together we might search for Truth—-the vital element in your earthly purpose of Self-realization.”

Seek truth. Be committed to truth. Truth above all.

It seems to me that history goes in cycles. It seems to me we are on the down cycle of culture, and historically such end with the gods of copybook headings returning with terror and slaughter. After much loss, pain, destruction, death, and turmoil, people return to their moral roots, God, and rebuild. Things have tended to get both better and worse with each cycle. Perhaps the next up cycle will be far better than this last one has been. I’d wonder beyond that, but we are probably looking at decades before this downward trend bottoms out. The general forecast for population is to increase for several more decades, and level off between 9 and 10 billion. If things go as they seem to be trending, the excursion downward might drop population back below half that before it starts up again.

So, I figure we owe it to ourselves and our posterity to try.

This article at First Things (a Catholic publication) suggests we are behind the power curve, but there are things we can still do.

Article | First Things.

Consider the article, and let’s resolve to try.

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