Sunday, May 15, 2011

I Believe

    I don’t know what caused me to write this. It just entered my head and I couldn’t get it out of there until I got it down. I apologize for the overlap and repetitiveness between categories. A lot of this was written in a stream-of-consciousness free flowing style, so it’s even possible there’s a contradiction or two.
    I believe:
  • In Freedom
    • Freedom of expression. You have the right to say and express yourself in any manner you like. I may find your expressions offensive. I may even tell you that you’re wrong, or an awful human being for uttering them, but I won’t take that right from you, and I won’t allow anyone else to either.
    • Freedom of religion. You have the right to faith in whatever mortal or immortal beings that give you guidance. If you choose to take it on faith that there is no supreme being capable of giving you guidance, you have that right too.
    • Freedom to defend your home and your family from pain and invasion. Nothing is more important than home and family. This includes invasion by the government. No one can take away what is rightfully yours, and that includes search and seizure of your property.
    • Freedom to defend yourself from any crime to which you are accused.
    • Freedom from the tyranny of excessive rule. We keep calling it the “nanny state”, but nanny is the wrong term. When someone wants to control what you can buy, what you can eat, where you can work, what you can hear and see, wants to take the benefits of your hard labor and give it to others without your consent, we don’t call that person a Nanny. So sad that black Americans would be willing to freely give up what we fought a war to gain for them. They know the word better than any of us. Master.
    • Freedom to participate in government. This means voting, protesting, getting elected yourself, promoting another to get elected, reminding your representatives that they work for you, not the other way around.
    • Freedom to fail. Without failure we never truly understand success. But to learn from failures, we must acknowledge their existence. We don’t try to hide failures or use the power of government to prevent someone from failure. Or worse yet, use the power of government to pick who fails and who succeeds.
    • Freedom to succeed. Find something you truly enjoy doing. Find a way to get paid to do it. Whether that means working for yourself or working for another, you still succeed. I enjoy two things a great deal. Designing software and writing.  I get paid for one, although I’m still looking for additional ways to get paid for it, and additional income. I don’t get paid for the other one. Yet. Someday. But I don’t think I’ve yet succeeded at either one. I’m still attempting to succeed. I’ll get there. And I’ll do it on my own. Because I put everything I have into it.
    • Freedom to be independent. No one should be forced to be dependent on another or forced to work for another. This is the most basic definition of freedom, to be free.
    • Freedom to love. You have the freedom to love who you wish in the way you wish. Note that real love is uplifting and fulfilling to everyone involved, not just one person, however. You don’t have the freedom to injure another and call that love.
    • Freedom to surpass your ancestors. No one should be bound by the chains of their ancestry. Your ancestry is your starting point. Success in life depends upon growing past it.
    • Freedom to better yourself. You have the right to educate yourself and improve yourself everyday and in every possible way. Education never stops until you stop breathing. Note that I say that you have the right to educate yourself, not that you have the right to an education.
  • In Family
    • Strength. I derive strength from my family, as I hope they derive strength from me.
    • Inheritance. My family deserves the benefits of my labor. Why should my children have to start at 0? I have the right to give them as much head start on life as I can.
    • Tough love. Just because I want to give my descendants a head start, doesn’t mean I want them to think that everything will just be handed to them. Sometimes I will help them. But sometimes I will make them help themselves.
  • In God
    • Yes, I have faith in God above. Sometimes I think I disappoint Him daily. Less often I feel truly worth of His love. I struggle with this every day. But I keep struggling.
  • In America
    • The America the Founding Fathers dreamed of is still part of my dreams as well. There’s a reason that the Freedoms above were similar to the Bill of Rights.
    • America wasn’t intended to be a copy of Europe. It was intended to be something new. Something that had never been tried before. For 200 years America has been the greatest success story on Earth. The Founders were pretty smart. Yes, they guessed sometimes. And occasionally they guessed wrong. But overall, we should strive to be more like the country the Founding Fathers envisioned than like Europe, of any century.
    • I believe in one America. You’ll never hear me refer to myself as a German American, or my wife as an Irish American, or another as a Jewish American, or African American. We’re all Americans. Celebrate your heritage, but not in such a way that it creates artificial walls between you and society. Fighting against segregation was what the 60s were all about. Why do so many want to go back, now that we’ve finally moved forward?
  • In Personal Responsibility
    • Success and failure. My failure is not your responsibility. Nor do you get to reap the rewards of my successes. My success and my failures are my own. Yours are your own as well. That’s a good thing.
  • In Equality
    • All men are created equal, and they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
    • All of that applies to women too. In this article I say “men” a lot and “he” just as often. Change to “women” and “she” if you prefer, or “people” and “they”. I’m using the masculine pronouns out of habit and laziness, not to imply anything.
    • Racism is racism no matter what euphemism you choose to use to hide it. Reverse racism is racism. Why do we stick “reverse” in there? Affirmative action is racism. Any time you choose to elevate or put down one race over another, it’s racism. And I’m against it. I’m for equality. Always.
  • In Republican & Federalized Government
    • The Founding Fathers justly feared a dictatorship, or any sort of large central government. They also feared democracy, as they understood that that’s the gateway to mob rule. They also understood the need for government to work for the both the strong and the weak, the large and the small. Democracy does not do that.
    • States rights goes along with this. And yes, I do believe in them. No, this isn’t a code for racism. Have I said anything that would imply that I think some people are better than others based merely on heredity? NO. But I do believe that government strength should be concentrated closer to home. Yes, that means that not all states will guarantee the same protections and privileges as other states. That doesn’t bother me.
  • In Hard Work & Struggle
    • I struggle every day with many things. I struggle to earn my value at my job. I struggle to be a good husband, and a good father. I struggle sometimes to have a balanced budget in our house. I struggle to be a good Christian. But I’m proud of all of these struggles. The day I stop struggling won’t mean that I’ve succeeded, it will mean that I’ve failed.
  • In Helping Those That Need Help
    • I donate regularly to charity. Not as much as I probably should, I admit. Ayn Rand thought that organized religion was just another way to get people to socialism, but I disagree. There are those among us that truly need short term assistance. Disaster victims, people escaping from abusive homes, people who’ve been replaced by machinery or computers. We can help all of these find a way out of whatever hole they’ve found themselves in. But that’s the key. We help them find their way out. We don’t keep helping them if they’re content to stay there. That’s not help. That’s dependency. And it’s harmful to both sides.
  • In Limited Government
    • No, I’m not an anarchist. Therefore, I do believe in taxation. But taxes should be as small as possible. I once saw a man draw something on a chalkboard that I’ll never forget. It was incredibly simple, but true.  He drew a line, and at one end he put the number 0 and the other end he put the number 100. These numbers represented the percentage of your income that is taxed. And he said that if you’re at 0, you’re absolutely free, and that if you’re at 100, you’re a slave. We should strive in our society for everyone to be as close to 0 as possible.
  • In Hope and Change
    • Hope. Without hope, man is nothing. I hope every day that today will be better than yesterday. And I hope that every day that I will be a better person than yesterday.
    • Change. Change is a necessity of life. Even bad change is often better than no change. Stagnation is death.
  • In Play & Laughter
    • Play. Everything above must make it seem like I believe we should all work ourselves into early graves. No, there’s a time for play. You need it to recharge your batteries. To get energy for that next big push down the road to success. So, have fun. Play games. Play with your children. Exercise. Read. Get away from everything. Whatever it takes to relax and re-energize, do it.
    • Laughter. I have two daughters. They are 7 & 4. In the 7 years since the first one was born, I have laughed more than in the previous 15. I’m certain of it. Not to say that my life with my wife was devoid of laughter, but my daughters have once again taught me how to enjoy life. I thank them both daily for this.
  • In Courtesy and Respect of Others
    • We all disagree. But being rude and ugly about it doesn’t help anyone. If you read this blog often, you know that being respectful of people with whom I disagree has always been one of my goals. You also know that I don’t always succeed at the goal. Still, I think I do better than many blogs out there.
    • Tolerance. I try to be tolerant of all beliefs and ways of life. I loathe hypocrisy in any form, but the worst kind of hypocrite in my eyes is the one preaching for tolerance in others while displaying none themselves. Therefore I do not preach tolerance. I try to be tolerant.
    • Respect of others means listening to what they’re saying, not projecting your views upon their words. Another thing that drives me crazy is that it seems that so many people get up in the morning and start looking for things that might offend them. Why do that? If you’re looking for offense, you’ll find it, whether it exists or not. If you’re offended by anything in this post, then I’m talking to you.
  • In Love
    • The love I give and receive makes all the other things on this list possible. Maybe The Beatles were right, “All you need is love”.
  • In Property Rights
    • My home is inviolate. That means you can’t come in my home without my permission and use my things or eat my food or take my money without my permission. If you do, you are illegally there and doing illegal things. Yes, that makes you an illegal person, not an undocumented one.
    • Our sovereign borders mark the boundaries of our home as Americans. That means that the previous statement applies to America.
  • In Necessities & Resources
    • We do all have needs, personal ones, family ones, etc. Even our nation has needs. On the most basic level, all I need to survive is food and water. Maybe shelter and clothing for more harsh weather. The nation needs energy, production, government.
    • Resources go hand in hand with needs. We use our resources to supply our needs. My best resource is my brain, and I use it to get the food, water, shelter and clothing for myself and for my family. The country’s resources are its people, its oil, gas, coal, farms & businesses. Anyone or anything that ignores its best resources in its quest for survival is insane.
  • In Peace Through Strength
    • This may have been one of the best items to come out of the Reagan era. He wasn’t the originator of the idea, but he brought it mainstream. People and governments respect strength. They ridicule and attack where they see weakness. Appeasement has never worked in anything but the shortest of timespans.
  • In Self Defense When Necessary
    • If I could be, I’d be a pacifist. I abhor war. I believe that any sane man does. No, I don’t think that makes our military insane. I think the best and brightest of the military abhor war too. But they understand its need and they are devoted to our country. I read this item once on how to explain the necessity of self defense to a pacifist. Go up to a peace protestor/pacifist and knock him down. When he gets back up, knock him down again. Keep repeating until he does something to stop you from knocking him down. Self defense.
  • In Keeping Promises
    • Yes, there’s lots of clichés that go along with this one. I’m going to go with one of the business ones. Under-promise & over-deliver. In other words, don’t just keep your word, surpass it. Good idea. Unfortunately, the biggest problem with our government is that it does the opposite. It over-promises & under-delivers. We need to get it through our heads, the promises made to us about Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, government pensions, etc. can not be kept. Don’t blame the new Republicans for being honest and telling us the truth. Blame the Democrats and old Republicans that have been lying to us all this time.
    • Of course this is true on a personal level, also. I’ve never yet broken a promise to either of my children. I hope I never do. I wish I could say that about every person I’ve ever met, including my spouse. See above about struggling, and hope.
  • In Financial Planning
    • I’m not the best at this even in my own household. But, I’m aces at it compared to our government. I wonder every day if I’m going to have enough retire and to get my kids through college, but at least I make ends meet on a daily and monthly cycle. We have to start living within our means, as individuals and as a country. We owe it to those who depend on us, our spouses and children.
  • In Honesty & Openness
    • One of my many faults early in my married life was keeping small & medium sized issues from my wife. If a problem came up, I would often do whatever necessary to fix it, but not tell her about it. I thought I was doing her a favor, by keeping her from worrying needlessly about whatever the problem was. The problem was that often she then discovered both the problem and the solution from another source, and then was mad at me for not telling her what was going on. You never help people by keeping bad information from them.
  • In Marriage
    • The sanctity of marriage is important. Marriage is a contract between me and my wife and God. I think marriage is a strength of our society and that choosing to do without is destructive to society as a whole. What about gay marriage? Well, you notice that I have focused on society and faith when discussing marriage, not the government. I’m Catholic. My faith does not allow gay marriage. If yours does, and you’re gay and want to get married, go for it. So, do I believe the government should recognize your gay marriage? No. But then I don’t think it should recognize my heterosexual one either.  We need to get government out of the marriage business.
  • In Sin
    • No, I’m not saying that I believe sin is a good thing. I’m saying that sin exists. But sin should not be confused with law. Sin is between you and your Creator. Laws should not try to regulate sin. I believe that, while sinful, you should be legally allowed to do anything that does not harm another. No, this does not include narcotics, as the abuse of narcotics generally does cause harm to others.
  • In Separation of Church & State
    • While you won’t find those words anywhere in the Constitution or Bill of Rights, it’s a good idea. I don’t want the state controlling my church anymore than I want my church controlling the state. And I really don’t want your church controlling the state. Ahem. Islam.
  • In Separation of Media & State
    • Unfortunately, this isn’t even a common phrase, and it’s just as important as the above. The media should provide an independent and healthy skeptic outlook on whatever the government tells us. When the government funds the media, i.e. National Public Radio, Public Broadcasting System, National Endowment for the Arts, the one being funded naturally will tune their message in a way to maintain their funding. This is not freedom, and it’s not truth. It’s propaganda.
  • In Separation of School & State
    • We have the opposite of this. And it’s just as important as the two above. More and more I begin to think that private schools are not only a necessity, but that they are the only possible way to achieve a good education on a national scale. Again, if schools are dependent on government for funding, then they will naturally educate the students in the way the government wants them to be educated. This isn’t freedom and it’s not education. It’s indoctrination.
  • In Good & Evil
    • Moral relativism is a euphemism for amoral. There is right and wrong and there is good and evil. Few of us are truly at either end of the spectrum, but hopefully we’re a lot closer to good than to evil. Mother Teresa was truly good, as was Pope John Paul II. Jim Jones, Charles Manson, Osama bin Laden are examples of people that are truly evil.
  • In Children
    • Whitney was right, children are our future. But we owe it to them to give them the best head start we can, and not make them pay for our mistakes. I don’t want my children paying for my mistakes. And I certainly wouldn’t want your children paying for my mistakes.
  • In Science
    • It seems odd to say that one “believes” in science. Science, by nature should be based on proof, and faith and belief should have nothing to do with it. What I’m saying here is that I believe in reputable scientific work, following the scientific method, not politically based “science” which advances an idea based upon belief, not facts. Therefore, I believe in evolution, despite, or perhaps in addition to, my Catholic beliefs. I believe in climate change, but not anthropogenic global warming. I believe the earth revolves around the sun, and that there are millions of earthlike worlds in the galaxy.
  • In Mathematics
    • One could argue that this is repetitive and should be under science. I’ve always had a mathematical mind. I often tell people that I “see numbers” in my mind. I don’t know a better way to describe it. But I’m capable of intuitive leaps in mathematics without detailed proofs. I’m also capable of understanding the detailed proofs. When I tell you that our country’s debt problem is a problem of mathematics and not politics, I do not lie. The math is simple. You don’t even need to be able to “see numbers” to understand it. But you do need to be able to see past your own political beliefs.
  • In the Craziness of Tinfoil Hatters
    • Obama was born in America. Terrorists brought down the World Trade Center. A plane crashed into the Pentagon. Sarah Palin is Trig’s mother. Osama bin Laden is dead. A lone gunman killed John F. Kennedy. Man went to the moon. Your belief in the opposite of any of these things marks you as irrational. No, don’t try to convince me otherwise. Sell your crazy someplace else. We’re all stocked up here. Healthy skepticism is fine. Denial of facts is not.
  • In The Free Market
    • It’s time to admit the truth. Communism and socialism have failed everywhere they’ve been tried. And they haven’t failed because they weren’t done properly, but because they are ideas with no hope of success. I’m no complete laissez-faire capitalist, but if I have to choose between laissez-faire and the over-regulated state that our President prefers, I choose laissez-faire. Economic freedom allows for much greater economic growth than economic control. Always has and always will. And yes, there will be “haves” and “have nots”. But if you look at American history and compare with the rest of the world, American “have nots” are far better off than the rest of the world. Free enterprise works.
  • In Technology
    • The world is a better place due to technology. I carry things in my pocket that my grandfather couldn’t have even dreamed of owning, much less carrying with him. While I wonder about the future standard of living for my children, I do not doubt that they will see scientific marvels that are beyond my dreams, and that these things will benefit their lives.
  • In Belief
    • I believe that enumerating my beliefs has been a good thing for me. Knowing your core beliefs and getting them stated can’t help but remind you to stick with them. We’re happiest when our actions are in sync with our core beliefs, and most depressed when they aren’t.

These are my beliefs. I don’t expect them to be yours. In fact, I would be extremely surprised if you agreed with everything in this post. I’m sure I’ll later realize that I’ve forgotten something, but this has been running around in my head for a couple days, and I’m pretty sure I got everything that has been in my thoughts. So, it should be pretty complete.

I apologize for the length of this post. Many of my posts are for myself, and for my own recall later. This is one of them, I guess. There’s a lot here that’s overtly and subtly political. I do not apologize for that. I’m a political junkie and it comes across in my beliefs.

UPDATE: Added section on racism under “In Equality”. Can’t believe I left that one out.

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