Friday, January 29, 2010

How did they know to do that?

Well, as some of you know, my wife and I home school my son, who is now 14 and in 8th grade. We've been studying the US Constitution and I've been reading some of what these founding fathers - these absolute geniuses - have written, and asking myself, "How did they know to do that?"

It's astounding to me that they thought through SO many things in SO much detail, and I thought I'd take a few minutes to enumerate just a few of the things I'm talking about.

The first thing that struck me was right at the beginning of the document - Article 1, Section 3. They set up the Senate so that every two years one-third of the Senate would be up for re-election. They did this on purpose so that there would always be experienced people in the Senate. In my opinion, this is evidence that the intent was that it was not meant to be a career, but a service to your country. Having experience meant having been in the Senate for a few years (3, or 4, or 5, etc.), not 30! They INTENDED there to be frequent turn-over in that chamber, but they also didn't want a bunch of rookies all learning the ropes at the same time. THAT'S thinking ahead!

The next thing was, a Senator or Representative can not be arrested if they are going to the House or Senate, nor can they be arrested for what they say on the floor of the House or Senate (Article 1, Section 6). This way, they can speak their mind and conscience without fear. When you think about it, it just makes sense - if you just arrest the person you disagree with, they can't vote. My point here is, who would have thought ahead enough to think that through? Maybe they'd run across similar things in other governments they were familiar with, but still...genius.

Next, we have Article 1, Section 8, (sub-section 12). Congress may create and support (read: finance) an army, BUT it can not appropriate money to that use more than two years in advance. At first glance, this may seem just a budgeting necessity. But actually, the limit of two years helps to prevent the military from taking over.

Now I'll skip ahead to the Bill of Rights. Right away, the First Amendment guarantees five specific rights. The one I'm most interested in for this post is the right of assembly. We take this right for granted, but there was a certain amount of foresight that went into this. Without this right, we would not be able to assemble for any reason unless permitted by the government. That means no churches (except a state-run church), no clubs, or any kind of private organization. It also means no assembling to protest the government. The lack of this right often leads to dictatorships. Again, it seems pretty obvious, but they somehow knew that this right MUST be SPECIFICALLY listed so that there could be no misunderstanding or manipulation of law by those in power.

Amendment 5 addresses the rights of the accused. No citizen can be forced to give evidence against himself. Therefore, there's no advantage in torturing someone to force information from them (in theory, at least). I think this was a remarkable idea and well thought out.

Amendment 5 also allows, unfortunately, for the government to take away a person's property - but at least they stipulated that the person from whom it's taken MUST be JUSTLY compensated. THAT'S a far cry removed from most other places in the world!

The last thing I'll talk about here is Amendments 9 and 10. The Unlisted Rights. The fact that the Constitution does not list a specific right does not mean that the right does not exist. And the states or the people have any rights not forbidden by the constitution. The federal government can not take away these rights. This shows that our founding fathers realized that they were human and could not foresee every eventuality. These men were AMAZING!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Defining moments

I awoke to this thought this morning. I don't even know where it came from - probably the remnants of a dream that I don't remember.

Perhaps the two most defining moments in a child's life are when he realizes he's a part of a family and, later, when he realizes he's apart from his family. And maybe there's a third moment - when he realizes he's both simultaneously. At once, a small but integral part of a larger whole, and an individual - a whole unto himself.

Of course, this dual aspect of personhood extends into the rest of one's life, for the entirety of one's life. You're a part of a community, a culture, the world, and yet always remaining an individual. The trick, I think, is finding the right balance. In many parts of Asia, the community is stressed - sometimes to the exclusion of the individual. In America, we have the opposite problem. Here, we exalt individuality. Individual rights are rigorously defended. Our individual desires become so important to us that we are frequently selfish and apathetic toward others. Either of these extremes are not healthy, in my opinion.

So, we must find balance - and we must teach this to our children. I'm going to try to do that. Join me.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Evolution? Really? That’s the best you could come up with?

Last night I was watching one of those shows - I think it’s called Scientific Frontiers - with Alan Alda. All through the show, they were saying stuff about the age of certain things, or how long ago such and such version of man was alive. 600,000 years ago, 1.8 or 1.9 million years ago, etc. All kinds of numbers were being thrown around.

At one point, some so-called scientist said that there’s no evidence that one form of man and the next form (such as Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon, but I really didn’t catch which exact versions they mentioned) - had gotten together and reproduced.

Wow! So, I’m supposed to believe that it takes millions of years for evolution to occur, while simultaneously believing that two different, fully formed versions of man existed at the same time. Furthermore, I’m supposed to buy into the idea that while two types of man existed - at the same time, and at the same place - that they never intermingled. And they must have been at the same time and place, or the question of whether they ever got together procreationally would never even have come up.

At another point in the program - and I think “program” is an entirely appropriate word, given what this crew is trying to accomplish - Alan Alda brought up the question of why the human spark is absent from the rest of creation - er, I mean evolution. That’s what this particular show was about, by the way, the uniqueness of humans.

The question was worded something along the lines of, “In all the millions of years of evolution, why is it that only humans have this spark?” I’m not kidding - that was the gist of the question. I guess it never occurred to anybody that they just mounted evidence against their own theory. If organisms evolve for the sake of improvement to the species - in other words, if the strong and smart and more suvivability-related metamorphoses carry on, and those which aren’t for that purpose die off - then why are humans the only ones to have this so-called spark? The very nature of the question runs completely counter to the entire theory. {By the way, the answer to the question is because it’s not evolution. It was a divine spark given to us by God!}

Then, of course, we have my own personal favorite question. If we evolved from apes, why do apes still exist? Some people poo-poo this question, saying perhaps that humans and apes both evolved from the same root ancestor. Whatever. I would refer such nonsense back to the last paragraph regarding the whole purpose of evolution in the first place, and with that in mind, try reconciling the fact that there are numerous different kinds of apes but only one kind of human. If man truly evolved - and if it takes millions of years to evolve (with different levels of evolution presumably co-existing), then why are we the only ones here? Doesn’t make sense.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Good ol' Captain America

"Doesn't matter what the press says. Doesn't matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn't matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right.

"This nation was founded on one principle above all else: the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or consequences.

"When the mobs and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world ... 'No. You move.'"

-Captain America

And that's why he's been an American hero for 70 years!!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Men and emotions...

I was talking with a lady at work recently, and somehow the subject of emotions came up. At one point she said, "It's probably just a girlie thing. You probably don't know what I'm talking about."

I told her that it was a "human thing", and that men frequently feel the same way - they just either hide it or try to control it. When I thought about it later, I found myself wondering why men do that.

I think it's out of necessity. I used to think it was cultural or societal conditioning - and I still think that's part of it - but there's also a pretty practical reason for it.

Consider the fact that for most of human history (and even today, to a large degree), most societies have been paternal in nature - the men have been in charge. With this in mind, all you have to do is look around - today, in history, whenever, it doesn't matter - and you see many, many instances where men have given free rein to their passions with disastrous results.

Occasionally an artist, or a builder, or someone else with constructive passions will demonstrate how great man's potential is, but more frequently you run across the destructive personalities who consider their personal passions to be more important than anything else - That's when you get Napoleon, Hitler, Alexander, Stalin, Mao - the list goes on almost endlessly.

So, I think it's a very good thing that men - the more aggressive of the genders - try to control their emotions. It may be that we are aware of our destructive and selfish desires and passions and choose to suppress them.

Either that, or we're just afraid of emotion. You decide.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Can we use a better word than "disability"?

Normally I don't care much for so-called political correctness. I think that, generally, we should call something what it is and not dance around it with euphemisms.

I recently ran across the word "disability" and, although I've heard this word thousands of times and didn't really have a problem with it, it just bothered me this time.

The reason it bothers me now is because it's too negative and vague. I think of it more in terms of limitations than disabilities, and where do we draw the line that a certain limitation is debilitating? We've all seen or heard stories about people who overcame huge challenges and went on to succeed beyond all expectation. When that happens, does that person's condition cease to be a disability? Ironically, they're still labeled a disabled person even though they may have achieved more success than the average non-disabled person. So, how can we call it a disability?

We ALL have limitations. Some people can see very well, and some require glasses (and some people are blind). Some people can hear the tiniest sounds and the highest pitches, and some require hearing aids (and some people are deaf). Much of what I could physically do at 17 years of age, I have a very hard time doing (or can't do) now, at 47. These limitations are just the way life is - it's just a matter of degree.

This isn't meant to be a political post, or have anything to do with the rights of the "disabled". I'm not trying to change anything - indeed, I don't necessarily disagree with the way things are regarding certain protections. I'm just airing some of my thoughts about the semantics revolving around this subject. I guess that's what a blog is for.


Hello all,

Well, I've finally succumbed to the blogging craze (lucky you). I have a few things on my mind that I want to write about - I just have to decide what to post first. Please bear with me. I'll post something soon.