I hope this post stirs some of you to discomfort. It will be one of the top twenty, maybe top ten, things you will ever read.
We live in an age of enlightenment, at least from what I hear from the young and the old that seek attention from saying rash yet meaningless words. “Words without actions are like a ship without an ocean.”
A popular movie according to commentary, although in reality it was poorly written, poorly produced, and for the most part poorly perform, is the fictionalized modern interpretation of the story of Noah. In light of the quote above I wonder if the tale of Noah would have gotten any long-term traction in the minds of men…if the ocean had never risen. Modern chatter about the film would not exist because the movie would never have been produced.
Words are at the foundation of every social movement…unless there is no social movement. Then words are only words. I use to frequently use a phrase to demonstrate how clever I was, until I ceased needing to be clever. “Did God create talking so men could communicate, or, did women create communication so they could talk?” Give a brief pause to those who choose to not be immediately offended.
This post, however, is not exclusively about words. It goes to a deeper depth than that.
As alluded to above our modern society portends to segregate us from the past by implying we are more advanced. I bristle at the notion. We are not more socially advanced (whatever that word may mean). We simply have different words and phrases to express our nearly endless depravity.
If I were to suggest that the 1940s and 1950s were a better era some would agree with me. But the bulk of mankind would howl at the moon and stars that I was crazy.
They would profess that we have become far more enlightened. They would parade across the stage of consciousness that such things as civil equality, gender equality, voting rights, and limitless sexual preferences are advances for mankind. They would form some form of arguments that our day is more equitable and fair than ever before.
I am quite sure that they would open the tent flaps and bid me to gaze on the circus of the past. They would use the extreme examples of men beating wives to prove their point. (I, by the way, more energetically then any of my would-be detractors find such behaviors as wife beating to be astonishingly bad behavior). They would speak of the barbaric acts of children being beat for disobedience. They would highlight the crassness of blacks, Hispanics, Orientals, and even the Poles being sent to the back of the bus to make room for whites. Then after the consummate lecture I would be told “We are better than that… now!”
I would not argue against the valid points which they would make. Yet, I would raise my eyebrows and with curiosity ask “REALLY?”
In those days gentlemen boldly walked among those that prowled in contempt for family and society.
I recall a story I heard about a family grandfather. The story goes to this effect. One day he was walking down the Main Street of the village. People came and went from store entrances. Then to the “quickly cast away eyes of many” a man on the far side of the street began to slap his wife. As the crowd whispered in discontent grandpa excused himself from his companions. Calmly he walked across the street. Then with the sudden burst of energy he rose in full stature and began to cuff the abuser about the head and back. Without raising his voice by a decibel he then inquired, “Do you enjoy that?”
Now, perhaps some are interpreting my rendering of that story to suppose that I subscribe to the idea that the only course with bullies is the age old corporal idea of “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth”. You could not be farther from accurate.
The story is to demonstrate that in that particular era men stood up to bullies.
Our modern advanced and enlightened society would condemn us for such interfering provocations. It is far better to coddle a child in his youth.
The problem is that we are seeing more and more instances of overt aggression against society IN THIS ERA. Don’t be foolish enough to presume that I am suggesting they did not happen in other eras, they most certainly did. But, for all of our enlightened rhetoric, social aggression is expanding not subsiding. Mass killing sprees at schools, at military centers, and crowded theaters are on the rise, not the decline. Violence in our cities, particularly those that have the greatest social controls over people like grandpa, is escalating at an alarming rate. Crimes that were once isolated to retribution in ganglands have broadened to widespread nihilism toward all of society, IN OUR ENLIGHTENED AGE.
The point in all of my verbosity is that mankind turns to a vindictive nature to satisfy discontent with circumstances. To suggest that one era is more enlightened that another because words condemn acts of violence is foolishness. Acts of rage play out in every era.
Whether grandpa knocking a selfish man to his senses, or an elected elite pontificating about a “great Society”, abusers will be manifest. To hope or think otherwise is akin to trying to see a glorious sunrise with our eyes closed.
Now, I began this post talking about words being the foundation of society. And they are indeed that.
Yet, too often we think of foundations as the most and only critical element of construction. Not so!
Foundations must be built upon a bedrock. The best foundation built on an unsupported sandy soil will cause the smallest shack and greatest mansion to be equal over time…neither fit for habitation.
My posts are principally about politics, as is this also.
In the United States of America we have a foundation for government in the Constitution. That is a firm foundation. To look to that Constitutional foundation to evaluate the stability of the whole structure is justified.
Yet, we ought to look even beyond that foundation. The bedrock on which that foundation securely stands are the principle of nature and nature’s God, that all men are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness secure from the aggression and violence of others.
Every man, good or bad, honest or evil, is entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness without violation from other. Yet, in that bedrock of liberty is the golden vein of responsibility and accountability. NO man acting in liberty, has the right to claim ownership and mastery of that bedrock, which would entitle him to violate any other man.
Equity is not the bedrock, law is not the bedrock, un-lived principles of religions are not the bedrock. The dignity of shared liberty…That is the bedrock!
The foundation which is built upon that bedrock consists of constitutions and justly derived laws. We would do well to look and teach more of that bedrock.
Said the “other” great William,
“Neither a borrower nor a lender be,
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.”
If I may add my own altered rendition,
Neither an offender nor an offended be,
For offending oft loses both itself and friend,
And offended dulls the edge of liberty.
This above all: to thine own justice be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be unjust to any man.
When any society, in any age, comes to rely upon that bedrock both mankind and God smile.
By way of example: The man that says, at any time, “I have no justice in violating another” has no need of constitutions, laws, armies and navies for he has become a just governor unto himself.
That Is The Way I See IT.