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Defunding the Police – Religion and Politics

There is, at present, an entity that has recently gained notoriety. I don’t know if they were around as a movement in time past, and if so, for how long, and frankly, I don’t much care.

That movement is called the “Defund the Police” movement.

I want to talk just a little about my view of this movement.

To begin with, I have to say something that applies to more than this particular group, but that I find troublesome about this one, as well as others (Black Lives Matter comes to mind).

When the name of the people in question was brought to light, there was a “general outcry” in which a good many people said (and in my view, rightly so), “Wait a minute now! Let’s not go crazy.”

The problem is, movements like to pick “catchy” names—names that are likely to “stick in the minds and hearts” of those who hear them. In this case, the chosen moniker was one that seemed to imply the entity formed wished to essentially “do away with” law enforcement on a wholesale basis. And all considered, who could argue that a name like that would not evoke the response stated above.

The argument by those in the body in question, is that, though the name may sound like law enforcement will “go the way of the dinosaur, never to be seen again,” this is not the intent.

Rather, it has been argued that various policing entities around the country should be “reevaluated” with an eye towards changing their makeup in substantial ways.

I’m not saying this is a terrible idea, though I believe there are reasons it won’t work well in the present environment.

The first of these, sadly, is public unions (in this case, specifically various police unions). One of the sad realities of modern policing is that the unions have a huge amount of input into what happens to “union members” when it’s discovered they’re guilty of wrongdoing of one sort or another.

To be frank, this is perhaps the biggest reform issue for people doing the job of public safety through policing.

An officer does something that should get him or her fired, demoted, even jailed, only to have the union step in and make it so appropriate action is not taken as a result.

You can make arguments all day, about “demilitarizing” the police, and I will stand right there with you, and say that for the most part there is little to no reason for certain of the gear carried or otherwise used by many departments. I say “for the most part,” because it may make sense to have certain units that have the kind of equipment that’s become ubiquitous to many large departments.

That doesn’t mean entire forces should be so equipped, just that a small portion might have such tools available for their use. Such equipment should probably not generally be for “common use.”

The next thing I often hear bandied about is the idea that, “There are a number of types of incident to which police are currently expected to respond, for which they are not, and can not be reasonably trained.”

Where I “get” that there’s something to this idea, the problem I see is, sending the folks who are supposedly trained to deal with the situations in question would often be literally endangering their lives.

Put simply, most of the time, when police are called on the deal with such circumstances, it’s because of the emergent nature of the situation in question.

You can make the argument that, “Those situations would be far less common if there were appropriately trained people working in various positions in communities throughout the country.” That would be reasonable to say, and it’s an idea that probably should be addressed to the various bodies involved in the funding and creation and modfication of such entities.

Until such a thing happens though, there will be a need for law enforcement to deal with those situations (and probably after such things happen, but we hope to a lesser degree).

Arguing that monies should be removed from policing budgets to fund such entities may sound reasonable, even desirable. The problem is, such a thing pretty much never “spins up” quickly. So if you remove funding from law enforcement without first “fixing” the thing or things that are causing them to deal with situations to which you cannot send social workers and the like, you just make their lives harder and in no wise better.

I have been wont to argue that Social Security should cease to exist. That being said, I’ve never been inclined to argue that it should no longer be, if there are people counting on it who have nowhere else to go. Further, I have not been willing to say its existence should stop without a serious plan going forward. Even then, the “phase out” would have to be incremental, and done in a way that didn’t harm people in the process.

The same is true for changing the funding for law enforcement agencies. You want to talk about reducing funding? What’s your plan to make the currently very necessary services no longer an integral part of what they’re doing? How long will you need to do it? What will you do to prove that the workload for officers has decreased sufficiently to remove funding?

In short, without some sort of plan, none of the talk is worth a hill of beans.

I’m going to add one more consideration.

I’m no expert in any of this. It’s my belief that most folks currently “making noise about” this sort of thing are no more informed or better trained, than am I.

That doesn’t mean they can’t be involved in the conversation, just that, in general, that’s what needs to happen, conversation.

Protesting is not likely to be helpful, let alone rioting and looting.

The world isn’t a perfect place. Though that’s the case, taking radical actions to attempt to “fix” it, probably is not the best solution. Slow, measured, determined action and discussion is most likely what’s called for.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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Communism Versus Soclialism – Religion and Politics

When I Googled Socialism, the very first result I received was:

so•cial•ism sō′shə-lĭz″əm►

n.Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy.
n.The stage in Marxist-Leninist theory intermediate between capitalism and communism, in which the means of production are collectively owned but a completely classless society has not yet been achieved.
Definitions of socialism that came up when I Googled it.

I’ve said in a previous article, that the definition of the word I would use would be different. Were I tasked to explain socialism, I would say:

Any instance where a task can be performed, or a product created without government, where government instead takes on the task, whether or not the activity is better performed by the private sector.

I would expect someone looking at my definition, to realize that almost every activity or creation of goods by government is inherently socialistic. If you did so, it would show you understand what it is I’m trying to say.

Put simply, my contention is that all government activity is socialistic.

There is a distinction that can be drawn between a sort of “soft” socialism, and its harder form.

You can say that there is a form of socialism that “takes over the productive functions of society in their entirety.” And one can suppose there to be “in between” versions, where the government takes some portion of what can (and probably should be) done by the “private sector” as its own.

Some have argued that this is the case for at least a large portion of the “health sector” here in the United States, for example.

It can also be argued that there is a sort of “veiled socialism.” This would be when government regulates some producer of goods or services to the point that they really are not in control of their own direction.

Based on these descriptions, if we choose to accept them (and for my part, you may be assured I do), it’s definitely arguable that much of the United States is socialist by this point.

All this being said, I think we’ve done a pretty good job of defining socialism here—both the “standard definition” and the one I find more correct.

For this article, you can assume my definition to be the one about which I’m speaking when I use the word, “socialism.”

I would like to make one more point about socialism, then move on to talk about Communism for a bit.

Whether you think so or not, nazism is socialism—the “word” is actually a “contraction of” National Socialist, and initially referred to the party to which Adolph Hitler belonged at the time of his rise to power.

That means that calling people who assuredly do not support socialism “nazis” could not be more wrong-headed. You may choose to say, “They’re acting like nazis,” but you should know, they’re probably acting more like just plain nationalists, than nazis.

An interesting “segway” into communism. Communism (at least the Marxist version of it), could be described as a “three step process.” It starts with the “common man” revolting and taking over. It goes supposedly then goes though a period of what amounts to dictatorial socialism, but when it reaches its destination, it’s more or less “controlled anarchy.” The second definition of socialism above, describes the final state as  a “classless society.”

Like it or not, such a society by definition cannot have a “ruling or governing class,” elected or otherwise.

I have been prone to use set of definitions for “right, center and left” politically, that looks something like this.

Leftist – “Tending towards a desire for a large amount of government. Wishing for government to have control to a great extent.

Centrist – “Wishing for government to have some control, but not excessive amounts thereof. Desiring a ‘right-sized’ governmental entity.

Rightist – “Wanting little or no government. Tending heavily towards anarchy.

The problem with these definitions? Leftists will inherently view centrists as rightists. Likewise for rightists, except in reverse, they will look at a centrist, and see a leftist.

But assuming we could agree, and frankly, even if we cannot do so, we should be able to agree that socialism is inherently leftist (particularly “strong” socialism), and communism is—by the listed definitions—on the “opposite end of the spectrum” (far right) in its final stage.

It’s also important to realize of communism, that it virtually never reaches its final stage.

In short Herr Hitler’s intense hatred for communism, may have been unfounded if he was concerned about resultant anarchy, but would still have been reasonable if one consider he had “competition in the socialist realm” as a result of “immature communism” that would never come to full fruition.

Assuming communism (certainly at least the Marxist version of it) could ever be more than a dream though, it’s pretty obvious what the major difference between communism and socialism would be.

“Final” communism, would be a “classless state” (read here, “a society without any type of class based differentiation”—that would be, as I have intimated, anarchy).

Socialism never gets past the idea that “daddy knows best.” In short, “You need someone looking after you, as you certainly aren’t doing well on your own recognizance.”

It’s pretty hard philosophically, to find two ideals further apart from one another—at least from a position of ideals.

At this point though, pragmatism rears its head!

The problem is that communism (again, certainly the Marxist version) has pretty much never gotten past stage two of the “big plan.”

As stated in the initial definition, that would be, well, socialism.

The “end result” is obvious, where there are entities that swear up and down that they’re communist,  it doesn’t take a microscopic examination to see they are pretty much all “stuck on socialism.”

This really shouldn’t surprise the astute observer. When the people who are implementing the socialist phase of communism get a taste of power, they’re likely to be hard-put to give it up (most particularly when they examine the “fruits the ‘revolution’ has wrought.”)

I hope this clears up why I don’t tend to distinguish between communism and socialism. I should point out that I generally find it a waste of time to distinguish between either or the two and outright despotism or tyranny. That’s because they all tend to be functionally the same.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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I Just Learned My Child Is Autistic, What Now? Part III – Autism

It can be a somewhat amazing thing to find out that you have enough to say on a given subject to write three or more thousand word blog entries on the subject. Apparently—and I should tell you that I’m a bit surprised to find this is the case—this is true for my “advice to people dealing with Autistic children” article!

Amazingly enough (to me at least), even knowing myself to be a “windbag,” I want to add a few things to the list that so far comprises my prior two articles on this subject.

Keep in mind that what I write here (I.e., in all three articles to this point), are things I deem to be relatively critical to understand and internalize. At least, that has been the case for me to this point.

Okay, let’s not waste a great deal more time in introduction, but “get on with it” instead. Here are my third set of considerations when it comes to dealing with Autistic children.

Keep It Simple

This is another one of those things that applies to all children to some degree, but in my humble opinion, applies the more to Autistic children, than to children who are not so.

You need to be very careful to not make things overly complicated when dealing with Autistic kids. You can always “build on” requirements and expectations as time goes on, but the need to “reset” with an Autistic child is typically at least mildly bad, if not horribly so.

The simple reality is, you don’t need to set hugely complex rules and expectations. What you need to do instead is, start with the basics and “work up over time.”

Set Boundaries

There’s a marked difference between setting expectations and setting boundaries. Autistic children will, as previously indicated, take huge amounts of time at activities that others find entirely uninteresting (read here, “Things like, opening and closing the same door over and over again.”). As much as I would like to always be able to allow my son to do such things until he is ready to be done with them, many times I cannot do so. Other matters—both trivial and important—must be attended to.

So what do you do? For me, the answer that has worked best is to use a consistent mechanism for setting boundaries—times and places that things are acceptable.

A method that generally works will with my son, is to start “counting down” time.

It took a bit to figure out exactly how to “balance” this, but generally, I can set a point fifteen minutes from when something must end (sometimes, less, at one particular regular store visit, I only give five minutes). So when I take my son to The Museum of Discovery in my local area, I generally count on spending hours there and “closing the place down.”

If he doesn’t decide to leave prior to closing, I try to ensure I give him sufficient time to “wrap things up.” Typically, that’s, “Garrett, in fifteen minutes the Museum is closing.”

From here, I do “periodic warnings.” So, “Garrett, the museum is closing in ten minutes, ten minutes.”

The longer the first forewarning is from the “ending time,” the longer between the periodic warnings. As we get closer to the end point, the more frequent, but until the last five minutes, they never get closer than five minutes apart.

Stand your ground — Within Reason

So, you’ve told your Autistic child we will be leaving at thus and such a time. Now stick to it! Well, mostly anyway. At times you’ll find that you can spare some more time, and you should do it—if for no other reason than to show your child you can “be reasonable” about such things.

In general though, you want to make it a habit to stand your ground. Things like, “No Garrett, this is what I said we would do, this is what we’ll do.”

Be prepared for pleading, screaming and anger. That’s not to say every “limit set” will result in these behaviors, but one fact about Autistic children that gets bandied about a great deal is generally spot on. They don’t like change.

The result is, a kid who has told you they don’t even want to do a particular thing, will be hard put to pull him or her self away from that thing in the course of time. Consistently setting boundaries will generally help the “transition.”

Challenge and Work Towards Response

One thing you will see in many Autistic children, is an unwillingness or inability to work in a “challenge/response” world. “How was your day, Garrett?” Has generally resulted in zero response from my son. He’s not trying to be “rude,” he just genuinely doesn’t understand the concept of challenge/response.

The way to get that understanding to occur, is to continue to work with the child—to get him or her to respond to things going on around him or her.

In a former article, I talked about learning your child’s motivations. That can be a very helpful thing in dealing with the “shortcoming.”

My son dearly loves chocolate, particularly dark chocolate. We have a cache of “miniature” chocolate bars which he gets at various points. I make it a habit to tell him that a chocolate I have grabbed for him is “daddy’s.” I do this also with his afternoon snack as well.

I don’t do it to “mean,” and though it’s partly to encourage various types of “play,” the most important reason is to “get a rise out of him.” In so doing, I “invoke challenge/response.” There are other things I do—like telling him I’m going to “pinch” him (which is more a tickle motion than a true pinch), to get responses often even before I act.

More and more, one should work toward the place of “normalization of challenge/response.” This is a definite need in many Autistic children.

Praise Is Important

If my son were not Autistic, I would consider (though probably not tell him), that he did many things well below “expected standards” for his current time in life. That being said, the fact that he’s trying to do many of them at all is a matter for praise.

On top of this, I make it a regular habit to tell him he is handsome, smart, strong, tall and so many other things. I want him to know that his differences don’t negate these truths.

Remember, praise is important for any child, but it’s easy to forget it’s important for Autistic children, and “normal interactions” between you and an Autistic child often do not make it seem so.

Remember, praise is a good thing.

Okay, as I’ve said, yet again, I’m surprised how quickly I have come to my time and word limit. Even so, here I am! So as usual, allow me to wish you the best of times, and thank you for reading.

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I Just Learned My Child Is Autistic, What Now? Part II – Autism

The very last article I wrote was on this same subject. I found that I had a great deal more to say than I initially thought. The reality is that there are a lot of things that more or less apply to “normal” children, on which a certain amount of “spin” most be employed when dealing with Autistic children.

I wanted to continue to expand on my advice, base on things I figured out have really mattered along the way so far.

As such, allow me to continue the former article, by adding some things I think may be helpful.

Never Assume What Your Child Can or Cannot Do

Your child may ultimately become able to do everything any “normal” child can do, plus. That having been said, he or she may not ever learn to do many things that “normal” children easily master.

The trick, if trick there be (and there is), is to continue to try to build on those things of which your child is capable. You must be ready to watch your child fail even more than the average youngster. What makes that more difficult, is the realization that all that failure may not yield success.

Even though this is the case, you must never accept that your child cannot do something without a great deal of effort on your and their part to be sure it is the case.

Equally important, is that you refuse to accept the idea that others presumably working in your child’s behalf have “put in enough effort” to answer, “Can he or she do this or that?” in a definitive fashion, without being sure just how much time has been spent.

For this point, the “cardinal rule” is, “It will almost never hurt to spend more time and effort working on a given skill or ability.” And that applies to you and others.

Obviously, the more significant or important the skill, the more time and effort should probably be expended.

Know Your Child’s “Triggers”

Autistic children truly do have a tendency to “melt down” in circumstances that would have zero effect or impact on normal children. Put another way, when you deal with Autistic children, you need to learn what causes him or her to “melt down.”

There are two very important reasons for this:

  1. You can make things much easier on yourself and your child by minimizing meltdowns. Meltdowns take time, they take work to remediate (to get your child back to a “reasonable state”), and they take their toll on both parent(s) and child(ren). The also affect how others view you as a parent and your child
  2. Figuring out how to “push the boundaries” can make it so you can “thicken your child’s skin” so that he or she is less likely to have meltdowns. 

You may—in fact probably willnever mitigate all meltdown scenarios, but you can greatly reduce them—and I promise, it will be well worth it.

Be Careful When Choosing Battles

This is one of those points that’s relevant to “normal” children. The truth is though, it’s proven far more important for my Autistic child. Why? Well, because each battle can be orders of magnitude more difficult than with the average child.

For Autistic children, because of the former point, you may experience a great deal more “pain” in dealing with things that are considered “standard expectations” for children of a similar age as your child.

The “final point” surrounding this, is to realize that a lot of “normal behaviors” are not so much beyond your child’s abilities, as not so important as to cause you to concern yourself over them to the same degree as does the average parent of a non Autistic child.

Talk To Your Child

This sounds so basic, but the reality is it’s an entirely different experience dealing with Autistic versus non-Autistic children.

We can unintentionally act towards our children, in ways that undermine our interaction with them.

When you have a barely verbal or entirely non-verbal child, there’s an (errant) tendency, to fail to talk to them as you would with normal children.

I have long maintained that you ought to talk to very young children. That in fact, you need to talk to them at levels far beyond those they display. I’m not saying that’s something you do at all times, but that much of the time, they can be spoken to at much higher levels than you realize.

This applies to Autistic children as well, whether or not they are far behind on communication (or even non-verbal).

Maybe, just maybe, your child will not benefit at all from this. On the other hand, what does it hurt to try?

Talk to your child. Ask him or her questions you know he or she cannot or will not answer. Tell him or her things as if he or she were entirely able to understand them.

Chances are good you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Allow Your Child To Experiment

I was sitting in my vehicle at my son’s school, when I got to see something that I wasn’t at all expecting. A child who is normally “handed off” from teacher to parent (literally from the hands of one, to the hands of the other), was “let go” by the teacher before the mother had a hand on him.

The child—looking very Autistic in his mannerisms—moved excitedly away from the mother.

It was initially more than a little disconcerting until I saw that he was headed for a very specific destination. You see, he had seen something on the front of one of the local school busses, that he wanted desperately to inspect more closely (and probably understand).

Unfortunately, his mother caught him just as he was looking at and handling it. As expected, she took hold of him, and ushered him to her vehicle, so as to get him “tucked safely inside.”

She probably had zero understanding what she had done.  You see, she took him away from something that would have probably meant growth (probably without realizing, and likely feeling a “time crunch” too), as well as increasing her “capital” with the boy.

Whenever I can do so, I let my child experiment in scenarios where no harm will occur as a result of him so doing. I advise parent of Autistic folks to do likewise.

So, here we are again, out of time and words. I may pen yet another article on this subject, but for the time being, I wish you the best of times, and thank you for reading.

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What is Socialism? – Religion and Politics

I believe that one of the things that makes it so very hard to “nail down” a definition for Socialism, is that folks—myself included—have a tendency to view various terms through their “personal lens.”

Put simply, people allow their experiences and the words of others, to “color” their view of particular words or expressions. This is certainly the case for the term “Socialism.”

It has been my intent to try to bring the definition of Socialism down to its “lowest common denominator.” I have not (until recently), been very well able to do that.

It came to me today, what the definition I would support might look like. I’m going to try to sum it up here.

The definition of Socialism I think to be most apt can be expressed thusly, “The successful attempt by a person or other entity, to gain control—consensual or not—of some aspect or aspects of another person’s existence.”

The first thing to note about this definition, is that it doesn’t limit the controlling entity to a person or to government. It can readily be argued in my humble opinion, that business is, in nature Socialist to the degree it—with the consent of those “controlled” or not—wields power over those who work for that entity, those who partake in the goods and services produced by that entity, and frankly, those otherwise affected by the actions of both the body in question, and others it affects.

In this age of mega-corporations, this is more true than ever. If, for example, one agrees to the “terms of service” for an entity like Google, or Facebook, one assents to the idea that such an entity has the “right” to filter the content one sees and “publishes” through that entity. This, like it or not, is “weak” Socialism.

The stronger a given entity becomes, the “more Socialist” that entity will be. The more difficult it is to ignore or reject the tenets and philosophies of a given entity, the more likely it will be that the vessel in question will hold sway over day to day reality for those by it affected.

It turns out as a result of the above, that government proves to be one of the most effective vehicles of Socialism.

There are probably many  more reasons this is the case. Certainly one such reason is that governments can implement policies that affect both those who support them and those (even outside the confines of the physical or logical region they supposedly govern, and assuredly within those confines) who are otherwise affected by them.

Sometimes, such policies are the implementation of promises made by the government or other entity or some members of it; at others, they are neither expected nor desirable even to the majority of the folks “governed.”

Obviously, the preceding can be applied to private industry as well as government; the primary difference being that it tends to be easier to “walk away” from a company than a government.

I hope I have done an acceptably good job of “boiling down” the basic concept of Socialism.

Having done this, let us now proceed to consider the relative merits and “evils” of Socialism.

One inherent property of any Socialist activity, is that it must take away freedom. Put another way, Socialism is by nature the “surrendering of personal liberty to a collective” with the intent of making things better for all (or some part of) the collective’s members.

You can certainly imagine that there are instances where this is not just desirable, but necessary to make societies or providers of goods and services be at least palatable to those “buying into” the particular group.

For example, murder (here defined as, “The intentional killing of another human being without justifiable cause.”) is not a desirable activity in most societies. The result is that it tends to be “banned” or outlawed. This, accept or no, is an example of Socialism.

I think most would argue, that disallowing through whatever means, the act of murder, is “acceptable” Socialism.

There can be argued to be a “group of” things that at least the majority can count similarly acceptable and reasonable.

Another example would be disallowing physical harm to another member of the group without, again, justifiable cause.

The larger the number of restrictions, the smaller the number of peopleß likely to support them. Obviously, it will often be true that some percentage will support some things, some percentage others, and there will be “overlap,” as well as things that are unique to a, or some particular group or groups within the larger body.

It’s also obvious, that over the course of time, different people will find their respective ways into authority. One problematic result of this, is the tendency by those in power to “swing wildly” to one direction or another on a given issue.

This is why the United States of America, as an example, is a republic, not—as many appear to be confused into believing—a democracy. The U.S. is a “republic with democratically elected representatives.” In fact, a glimpse at the various writings of those who established and assented to, the U.S. form of government, shows that they had no love whatever for the idea of “pure democracy” by and large.

The concept of a republic is that by laying down “foundational legal concepts,” it is possible to set what are considered reasonable limits to the power, authority, and direction of those ”in charge.”

That doesn’t make all Republics “equal.” Funnily though, to some extent, all republics are socialist. The main difference can be summed up in the question, “To what extent are they so?”

One of the considerations of the founders that can be found to be addressed in the U.S. Constitution is exactly that. Put in simplest terms the question answered succinctly but thoroughly in the Constitution is, “Who has what power?”

The unfortunate reality is—as with most such entities—the intent of those who created the entity can be said to be “in the way of” folks who—for whatever reason—want to see government have more power. Since I am “out of space and time,” I will not address who those people are except to say some have good intentions and some, not so good.

Intent aside, actions that expand the role and power of various levels of government past the limits placed on them by the U.S. Constitution are almost always disastrous.

Okay, as I have said, I’m over my time and space constraints. Allow me to wish you the best of times, and thank you, yet again, for reading.

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My Own of Course — Whose Ideas Do You Support?

I have to be entirely honest, I have zero idea how much of the time I sound big headed, conceited, whatever you choose to call it.

It’s not so much that I don’t care, as that:

  1. I’m pretty well convinced that people will assume you’re conceited for nothing more than that you disagree with their “obviously correct” premise(s).
  2. I try to do regular self-examination, to ensure that I am where I feel I need to be. Where the places I feel I need to find myself, may appear to be big headed ones to others can not be a matter of great concern to me.

I not super recently, but recently nonetheless responded to a family member, that one of the most important things I can imagine keeping as a “basis for life,” is being true to your beliefs and understandings. That’s not to say you’re always correct, but that until you’re shown to be wrong about something, it’s rather silly to not continue to hold with that something.

One of the better parts of this approach to life is, though it’s not always the case, most of the time, if you hold to things that are not true and live according to those things, you will be shown—often in quite short order—the error in your perspective.

One of the results of this, is that I have “crashed and burned” enough to make it so I am very careful about what I will and will not support.

The above is really intended as an “introduction” to that which this article actually addresses.

Call me crazy, but I have noticed that most folks spend very little time thinking for themselves. Rather, most folks see things with which they resonate and fail to critically analyze what’s being said, to decide for their own benefit (and the benefit and wellbeing of others), whether the things they’re supporting are true or correct.

I have some pretty good ideas why this is the case, but obviously, I can be wrong about such things. Here is a “quick and dirty” list of some of the major reasons I believe folks “let others think for them:”

  1. A perceived lack of intelligence
  2. A perceived lack of ability
  3. A perceived lack of experience
  4. A perceived lack of wisdom
  5. A perceived wealth of any or all of the above on the part of some other individual
  6. Guilt

So what’s the problem with allowing others to tell you what you ought to think without concerning yourself with the rectitude of what that other (or those others) have to say?

Years ago (around seventy, if not more), there were many German soldiers who were given an answer essentially, this very same question. The answer was, “I was just following orders is not a valid defense or excuse.”

Put another way, just because you got your answers for things from someone or some ones, who seemed to be smarter, more able, more experienced or wiser than you; or because you chose an answer that was incorrect—though it helped to assuage or cause somewhat to abate your guilt, does not make your choice correct. To be clear, I’m not saying it makes your choice inherently incorrect either, just that you have no way of being even remotely sure if you don’t take the time to think things through for yourself.

A person can certainly argue for the likely rectitude of the answer of someone who appears more able in some sense, but in doing so, that person has essentially assented to that person’s choices, correct or incorrect. Put another way, your decision that someone is, in some wise, more able to make a choice or come to a conclusion about something, is no less making that choice yourself.

It may be a good place to start—looking at what others have said about a particular thing or situation and using that as a basis for your own consideration—but it is not a good place to end.

Whatever you may think, and whatever you may have been told to the contrary, your choices are yours, and that’s regardless that they’re based on the supposed intelligence or consideration of someone else.

Yes, I know it can be difficult to take the time and effort to really understand things. I know too, that at times, your “research” may not be as good as the work of others.

No, I am not telling you that you must ignore the work of others, in which they have invested time, energy, intelligence, experience, wisdom and potentially so much more.

About now, maybe you’re wondering exactly what it is I am saying. Let me see if I can clarify.

When you blindly accept the statements or considerations of others as valid or correct, you are placing your “personal stamp of approval” on those statements or considerations. Whatever you may think about that, doing so means you are adopting or accepting the ideas behind them.

I urge you to take care to not accept the ideas of others blindly. I ask that, instead, you take the time to consider what it is you’re anticipating accepting. Put it “under the microscope.” Really think about it. Look for flaws in what you’re getting ready to incorporate into your worldview.

In Nazi Germany and the USSR (and China, and Cuba, and North Korea, and Iran among others) things were allowed or accepted as facts by far too many folks that should never have been. Oh, to the folks in question at the time, they sound good and solid. Now ask those folks (or those still around to talk about it, or read what they have said) if they would make the same choices today that they made in the past.

I would be so bold as to venture that many would not do so.

The conclusion of this article can be summed up in a fairly simple way. Think for yourself. Do not allow yourself to be swayed by things that sound good. Decide for yourself what is correct and incorrect.

Yet again, I’m just over my “self imposed” word count. That being the case, allow me to wish you a good day and thank you for reading.

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My Political “Final Bow”

I probably have not mentioned it here, but I have pretty much always been a slow learner. Though I’m sure there are more than a few people who will choose to disagree, I tend to “make up for” that by coming out of learning situations with a much stronger understanding than does the average person.

I have a hard time thinking about any subject or situation from which I have not emerged with a “superior knowledge base” about which I cared at all. The less I care about a particular thing, the longer it takes me to learn about it to a level that makes me “dangerous” where that thing is concerned. That doesn’t mean I won’t come to know it, and know it well, just that it will take some time for me to “come up to speed” on that subject.

Probably of equal significance, is that I tend to attempt to adopt and apply a “holistic” approach to whatever I learn. The intent of my learning activity is to either fit what I’m learning into what I already know, or to realize that what I think I already know is incorrect, and modify that based on what I have learned.

If I had to guess—I have no “hard and fast facts” on this—I would say it’s about an “equal split” between these two happening (though I think it has moved in the direction of questioning more diligently the new thing learned as time has passed).

Overall, I find that I learn new things literally every day. That may come as a surprise to a lot of folks (particularly those who know me to be over fifty years of age), but it’s no less true for the probable folks having their eyes opened by this revelation, or choosing not to do so.

By this point, I’m sure you’re wondering what on Earth this has to do with the subject of this post.

Funnily, it has to do with one of my more in-depth studies, that being the study of human nature.

Seldom have I found a more important field of study to anyone who happens to be a member of any societal group, than the study of human nature. The reason for this is that for many people, simple human nature can “invalidate” what is actually true, real or correct.

Typically, this results from one of a couple of things:

  1. Folks have not delved deeply enough into what motivates people—themselves or others (or some other aspect of human interaction).
  2. Emotion “rules the roost” for the person looking at things and makes in impossible for them to apply logic and real and reasonable models for human behavior—that regardless the often irrationality and unreasonableness of human nature and resultant behavior.

After reading this, maybe you still don’t see the connection. Basically, it is that I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that most folks will not be convinced of what I understand to be truth, nor will they manage to convince me, based on my understanding of human nature.

This is particularly true where the discussion at hand is concerning something like politics. The reason? More often than not, people either allow the depth of their thought to be entirely superficial, or they allow their political beliefs to be motivated and their consideration of the human condition to be driven, by emotion, not logic.

The result of this epiphany on my part, is that I am more sure today than I have been in some time, that discussion of politics, and most especially time bound political discussions will rarely result in anything good.

I can hear applause in the distance (though sadly, for all the wrong reasons) as I write this. I can “hear” the thoughts. Things like, “Hooray! Finally, he wakes up.

You should know that this is discouraging to me in the extreme. To know that most folks either don’t care about things that are extremely important to their future, or cannot consider those things without feeling attacked or emotionally “put upon” in some fashion when discussing them with others with whom they disagree.

I say this in part because, even when folks attack my positions on various things, I flatly refuse to chalk that up to intended animus. Rather, I assume they “like” what they believe, and don’t want it taken away by logical consideration and understanding of human nature (or, generally more correctly, lack thereof).

More often than not, it saddens me more for their sake, than just about anything else. That you choose to disagree with me is not so important a thing on the face of it. That history and human nature consistently prove you incorrect, on the other hand, is.

I’m fully aware that I can be wrong, and frankly, I do my best to be willing to be convinced when that is true. The problem is, most folks have no interest in trying to convince me of anything. And what makes that worse is that, if they ever did think that a reasonable course, most of them would feel attacked when what they said was approached and the light of logic and an understanding of human nature was applied.

What makes this worse is that I’ve come to another realization along with the one(s) already stated. I have come to the conclusion that:

  1. It would take far more time than I have to get people to see the flaw in their logic or perspective and
  2. For most folks, they would fight me from sunrise to sundown in order to attempt to keep their values and resultant positions.

You might try to argue that I am the same, but the truth is, I have become rather adept at arguing my values, positions and understandings. As a result, what happens most of the time is, I show a person where they are mistaken, only to have them attempt to prop up the same straw men I have already, not just knocked down, but often burnt to the ground, over and over again.

The result is, either they get tired (but generally do not change their minds), or I “run out of daylight,” and am unable to continue the discussion. Pretty much nothing worthwhile comes of such a discussion.

Having come to this understanding, I think it’s getting time to generally leave the discussion of things political, and concentrate on things that matter more to me.

You see, I’ve never been a fan of politics or things political. I discuss politics for the most part in an attempt to accomplish just two things:

  1. I want to convince the believer in the political process of the abject hopelessness of that process
  2. Considering the aforementioned hopelessness, I want for folks to understand that the absolute minimum of government that can be applied and employed in just about any situation, is the best solution.

To sum up, let me just say that, I will make it my business to speak as little about politics as I possibly can. Further, I will do my level best to discuss only “timeless subjects” when I feel the need to discuss things political. So, nothing that can even be remotely construed as an “attack on” a given political figure or activity (as it relates to particular individuals).

So from here, count on me talking a great deal more about religion (actually, more correctly, Christianity), philosophy and human nature, and using those discussions to both explain why I am who I am, and why I think others ought to “follow suit.”

So, inasmuch as it is possible for me, let me now say ta-ta to politics and hello to Christianity, philosophy and human nature. The added benefit being that I get to discuss things about which I care far more deeply in any case.

Thanks for reading.

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If You’ve Ever Wondered About the Expression “Indomitable Spirit” – About MSG Roy Benavidez

Being pretty much a pacifist these days, I really don’t support the idea of military service—even though I spent nine years in the U. S. Air Force.

I recognize the right of states to maintain militias, and the intent of the Second Amendment of the U. S. Constitution to support unhindered arming of U. S. citizens.

On seeing this video though, I am reminded what the expression, “indomitable spirit” is all about. And frankly, I cannot imagine not having a great deal of respect for MSG Benavidez.


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About Hillary Clinton

I don’t normally talk about things I don’t consider timeless on this blog. I am going to make an exception, but let somebody else do the talking.

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Another Favorite Video -Immigration, World Poverty and Gumballs

This is an excellent video come to explaining why mass immigration to the U.S. (or anywhere else) is not the solution to Poverty (or much of anything else).