Monday, October 03, 2005

Common sense is for losers!

Common sense is the most fairly distributed thing in the world, for each one thinks he is so well-endowed with it that even those who are hardest to satisfy in all other matters are not in the habit of desiring more of it than they already have. Rene Descartes

If one more person tells me to use common sense I will lose my mind. For some reason I have been bombarded with calls to use common sense this week. I’ve noticed it both in the media and by the people around my. Why would I want common sense? I don’t want a common job, a common wife, common children, a common house or even a common dog. Why the hell would I want common sense? Those that preach such things can keep it.

Whenever someone starts talking about common sense I get the impression that they are either trying to sell me something. If they are not selling something they are trying to get me to follow them down a road I don’t want to travel. At the first mention of common sense I abandon the conversation, I cancel the sale, I stop the relationship and I go my uncommon way. I have neither the inclination nor the time to entertain common prophets and soothsayers.

I am beyond common, I have made the leap. The virtuous ideas of courage, temperance, wisdom and justice guide me. The base ideas of base people no longer interest me. I am visiting the land of uncommon sense.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Sometimes You Just Have To Solve Your Own Problems!

Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.
Benjamin Franklin

This quote has been used over and over again. Many anti-war, anti-republican groups have picked up on it as a response to the Patriot Act and other measures that have been enacted as a result of the Global War On Terrorism. Being only human, people tend to react in extreme measures when confronted with a hostile event. We want action and we want it know… Unfortunately, this basic reaction to events is contrary to the virtues and dangerous in the long term.

When extraordinary events occur we all have to dig deep and reflect on the ideas presented in the four virtues of courage, temperance, wisdom and justice. Courage is more than destroying our enemies, of which Americans excel, it is the ability to be temperate in our response, it is the ability to allow careful reflection so that wise decisions will happen and most of all it is the insistence that all actions are just. We must be temperate in our actions so that we conquer those that oppose or threaten us and do no damage to those that don’t. We must allow wisdom the opportunity to rise to the top and we must value justice above all else.

Why bring all this up? The main reason is this: FEMA failed in the resent Hurricanes. All the finger pointing and investigations that come out of this are meaningless. They are all just a way for politicians to gain exposure. The only important fact is that the system broke down. I am not making excuses for anyone, but these were huge storms and nearly unprecedented in their scope. Also, in the last few years the Federal Government has been consolidating power and taking a much larger role in local governing. As a result, local governments were quick to give up and ask or beg for help. It was sad and disappointing all at the same time. The Mayor of New Orleans, C. Ray Nagin, put on a good show when he told people to get off the “asses” and send help but he was really saying that he couldn’t or wouldn’t do anything himself. He passes the buck! The recently departed FEMA chief, Michael Brown, failed but his greatest failure was the public relations battle in which he preformed poorly.

We are at a cross roads again. This time the federal government wants the authority to sidestep local officials when natural disasters happen. Be sure you know what you will get if local authority is circumvented. Understand, that you what you ask for is not necessarily what you will get.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Fat, Dumb and Happy?

The man who makes everything that leads to happiness depends upon himself, and not upon other men, has adopted the very best plan for living happily. This is the man of moderation, the man of manly character and of wisdom.

Everyday on my way to work I see the same thing. People are walking or ridding bike here and there. Nine out of ten are healthy looking. On the weekends the contrast is amazing. The fat people come out to play. I have always wondered where they are on the weekdays. Who knows? But my feeble mind has mad one conclusion? Healthy people are more active. Before you call me a big fat dumb ass, think about it. We as a society are always trying to do more and do it faster and better. We jump on any craze that happens along. Lose weight by eating carbohydrates and avoid protein or loose weight by eating protein and avoiding carbohydrates. Buy a gym membership, buy exercise machines and your problems will be solved. Get a coach, follow a guide, do this, do that. Maybe the answer is right there in front of all of us. Get off the couch and get outside!

As for food: I like to eat and I’m sure the weekend crowd likes to eat as well. The answer is painfully obvious here too. EAT LESS and stay far away from fried foods! Why fried foods? Because they are EVIL! I have been trying this method out myself and it works. I have been doing this awhile and now I have lost all desire for fried foods. I don’t like the taste and I don’t like the stuffed feelings after a big fatty meal. I took me about two months to reach this point. Yes, I do feel better and it cost me nothing.

The virtue of Temperance is the answer. Do all things in moderation…

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Myth Makers

“The minority, the ruling class at present, has the schools and press, usually the Church as well, under its thumb. This enables it to organize and sway the emotions of the masses, and make its tool of them.”
Albert Einstein

No too long ago I watched a documentary about Noam Chomsky. Norm is a pioneer linguist turned radical. He has been fighting “the man” since Vietnam and has made a nice niche for himself in the process. Anyway, in one segment of Manufacturing Consent he talks about the Myth Makers. According to Norm, 80% percent of people don’t count at all. They are there to serve the Myth Makers. A little less than 20% are there to administer to economic and political systems for the small minority that is truly in charge of society. I bring this up because of indoctrination and the education process.

He makes the case that the 80% are taught enough to function and the 20% are taught enough to administer. The real purpose to school is to indoctrinate the masses in such a manner that they will support the myth makers. I always wondered why the state would not only pay for education but make it compulsory.

Disclaimer: Before all you Noam Chomsky fans (and you know who you are) tell me I have misinterpreted what he has said, cut me some slack. It’s been a couple of months since I watched the show and I my mind has been “dumbed down” by those damn myth makers.

Anyway, if this is even remotely true, then I have to reeducate myself. What a fool I have been! What a fool you have been. Education has not set me free; it has weaved a web of dependency and complacency around me. I have been tricked…

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Four Virtues

“A wise man ought always to follow the paths beaten by great men, and to imitate those who have been supreme, so that if his ability does not equal theirs, at least it will savour of it. Let him act like the clever archers who, designing to hit the mark which yet appears too far distant, and knowing the limits to which the strength of their bow attains, take aim much higher than the mark, not to reach by their strength or arrow to so great a height, but to be able with the aid of so high an aim to hit the mark they wish to reach.”
Nicolo Machiavelli

Every quest needs a couple of guiding ideas. I visited the book stores, I browsed the self help sections and I came away empty handed and more than a little frustrated. What a bunch of crap those books are. All of them screaming “follow my easy steps and your dreams will be fulfilled” or “by my program and find eternal bliss.” Whatever!

I turned to the classics. I began at the beginning and Plato was my first choice. There it was in Book IV of The Republic. Plato identifies four virtues necessary for a successful society and by default necessary for a virtuous person. He makes the leap from society to the individual because a virtuous society cannot exist without virtuous citizens. The four virtues he describes are: Courage, Temperance, Wisdom and Justice. In my search I found other lists but none that met my requirements of simplicity and reach. It seems to me that these qualities are the most basic an important quality’s one can have. It is interesting that the Catholic Church also adopted them and renamed them the Four Cardinal Virtues. So in my quest I will travel in the direction of the four virtues. This journal is my attempt to reconcile these ideas with the reality I inhabit.