Sunday, October 7, 2012
Convinced that my sporratic offerings of personal insight would again cause me mental discomfort as I re-read each post, I found quite the contrary. I was surprized to find I still liked what I had read. I felt pleased, not emabarrassed. Instead of deciding it was time to delete what I had written, I decided I wanted to create another post.
So what changed? Why do I like what I wrote this time? Perhaps I'm less of a critic to myself as the years are progressing. It's possible that my take on the public events of the day don't hold as much folly as my take on the private events of my life. Maybe I learned how to become a greater writer. Probably not.
I think is has to do with the same message I've been trying to relay in each of my blogs. I think it has to do with when my writing was moved upon by feelings and emotion, or when it was written using sound principles. Emotions constantly change. They are prone to peaks and valleys in a short period of time. Principles are more steady, less prone to change at least in a short timeframe. Emotions remind me of the daily weather. Highs and lows each day. Each day can bring both clear skies and thunderstorms, sudden gusts and calm breezes. Principles, on the other hand, remind me of the climate. Taken as a whole, year after year, the overall changes are few and gradual and much more predictable. While both are connected, the difference is perspective.
Whether or not readers of my blogs would agree with my perspective, I find I'm quite comfortable with it and like what I've read so far. I guess that means I'll be writing a few more posts even if it won't be on a daily, or even yearly basis.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
This week the California State Supreme Court ruled in a 6-1 vote to uphold Prop. 8 re-affirming the defining of marriage between one man and one woman. I applaud the media for convincing most people that prop. 8 is a ban on gay marriage, not a re-affirmation of marriage as it has been observed over the years. That's where most conservatives fall into a trap when debating issues - they're letting the opposition define the terms.
Defining the terms is key to clearly expressing a point of view. It is everything to me in a debate. Do not ever assume everybody has the same definition of terms you do when in a debate. That's when your words are used against you. When you define terms and establish the premise of your views, you are communicating clearly and are better understood. Proposition 8 is a perfect example. Nearly everybody looks at (and accepts) Prop 8 as a ban on gay marriage and is debated that way. You're already at a disadvantage if you attempt to debate Prop 8 as a ban on gay marriage. First, nowhere in the wording does it use the word 'ban' or 'gay'. I see it and debate it as a protection of the sanctity of marriage. Accepting and debating it as a ban would expect me to defend my views on gay-marriage, or rather, what have I got against homosexuals to want to ban them from anything? Calling Prop. 8 a ban on gay marriage establishes a premise that those who support the proposition support banning gays from getting married. If I engage in that debate for the proposition, I do it from a disadvantage. I have essentially agreed with the opposition's premise and now I am debating from a defensive posture because that premise has established that the word 'ban' is bad and that I am also homophobic (another bad thing to be labeled). Now I'm defending myself as a homophobe. Wait a minute! When did I become a homophobe? When did I become a bad person? I'm just stating my opinion. Maybe I'm better off just to keep my mouth shut. Maybe I am a bad person. Maybe I should rethink my view so others won't see me as bad.
The opposition just won. Not because this is a win/lose issue, but because they've shut me up now and possibly on future issues. The only way to truly win a debate is to get the opposing view not to engage you at all. Do you see how that is done? I say again that letting others define the terms puts you at a disadvantage. Here is how the debate goes when I talk about Proposition 8. I'll call the fictional character that addresses me in the following dialogue by the name of Activist. While the character might be fictional, this is a typical exchange when I'm confronted about Prop. 8:
Activist: "What do you think about all those people being denied their rights in California?"
Me: "Which people? What rights?" (DEFINE, DEFINE, DEFINE)
Activist: "You know, all those people who can't get married because they are gay."
Me: "Who is denying them there rights?"
Activist: "You know, all those right-winged, conservative, religious homophobes." (Name calling. Avoid it at all costs.)
Me: "Are you talking about the passage of Proposition 8 in California?" (I'm rewording the first question.)
Activist: "Yeah, what do you think about that?" (still a vague question so I'll do the defining)
Me: "I've always seen it as voters re-affirming the long established institution of marriage between one man and one woman. After all that is how the proposition is worded." (My opinion stated, facts declared, and no inflammatory comments.)
At this point in the dialogue if person I named Activist wants to continue the conversation, he/she will either respond to my comments and therefore acknowledge my views, which put me at the advantage, or will recognize I don't sympathize with his/her view and quickly end the conversation. Either way, I don't get misunderstood or mislabeled.
For the record, I will explain my views on why I support Proposition 8 and why the opposing views are short-sighted and selfish.
Marriage in this country is legal and binding provided that you meet certain requirements set forth by each state. Most requirements need to be met before obtaining a marriage license. They are among other things:
- You meet certain age requirements.
- You have a certain mental capacity (you are of sound mind).
- You are currently single.
- One of you is male and one is female.
- You meet certain citizenship requirements.
- You can't be related by blood (i.e. siblings can't marry each other)
- You both are human (no bestiality)
Some of these should go without saying and most do or, at least, used to. Sexual preference did go without saying that is why it was never originally specified in nearly every state constitution. With all of the legal wrangling and challenges, nothing can ever be assumed again. That is why Proposition 8 was created. The only problem with it is that it addresses marriage being between one man and one woman. That is only one qualifier. What about when legal issues start to mount about the other ones? Some other qualifiers have been legally challenged and, for the most part, to no avail.
If put in the correct context, today's debate on gay marriage is only a part on a long history on the never-ending assault on the family. This isn't about who I am for banning, it is about who I am for protecting. I am for protecting the family. The family is the foundation of a peaceful, happy, robust society. It creates a society with longevity. The first and essential ingredient to the family is marriage. One of the ways to protect the family in our society is to protect the institution of marriage. It is not easy to meet all the requirements to marry, nor should it be easy. For such a serious commitment to spouse and possible children, marriage isn't a decision to be carried out on a person's whim or at the spur of the moment. The divorce rate tells me that too many as it is don't take it seriously enough and should even merit a look to tighten up the criteria rather than loosen it.
I am not one for entitlements, but I do believe that children are entitled to be born into a family of loving parents who honor and care for each other, their marriage to each other, and their family. By extension, I believe that children are entitled to be conceived by loving parents who honor and care for each other, their marriage to each other, and their family. If individuals honored the sanctity of marriage this way, adultery, single parents, divorce, children born out of wedlock, and abortions would be almost entirely eradicated from our society. This is why I want to protect marriage. My opponents look at it as keeping them out. Only those who are thinking of themselves and not what's good for the children or what's good for society view it as a ban. Marriage was never designed for and should never be allowed to satisfy the immediate selfish desires of the individual or a cover from the shame of society. It is an institution of first service and sacrifice and after comes the reward of personal fulfillment.
Here are the most common rationalizations used by those who desire the legalization of gay marriage that I read in the news and hear from their very lips:
- "I should be able to marry whoever I love."
- "I'm tired of being treated like a second-class citizen."
- "I feel disenfranchised."
- "I shouldn't have to feel ashamed for who I want to be with."
- "Why should only straight married couples get the health and tax benefits?"
- "I'm being discriminated against."
- "I can't help who I'm attracted to, I was born that way. This wasn't my choice, but I'm getting punished for it."
- "I just think it a very odd thing that strangers have a vote on my private decision to marry."
The common theme? I, I, I, I, me, me, me, me, my, my, my, my. Other themes... entitlement, envy, jealousy, guilt, shame, victimization. The rationale has always been emotionally rooted. This is the hallmark of a liberal view of any issue. What's more, they all think that their personal choices don't and shouldn't concern the public. That the consequences of their actions somehow are benign.
Let's look at the first rationalization listed, "I should be able to marry whoever I love." So what? In the words of Tina Turner, "What's love got to do with it?" Again, define love in this case. I can only guess what is meant, but since the statement is in defense of sexual preference, I'm led to conclude that love in this case equates to who you are intimate with, who you want to be with, who you are passionate with. Well, incestuous couples say they love each other, pedophiles say they love the little kids, what about love in bestiality? Young teenagers? Polygamy? My point is how does love qualify only hetero and homosexual couples for marriage yet separate the other groups who "love" each other? It doesn't. Besides, love never has been a qualifier for being issued a marriage license anyway.
My favorite of all the reasons proponents of legalizing gay marriage use: "I'm tired of being treated like a second-class citizen." My response: "Aren't we all!" Tell me who has never felt like life was unfair to them even in this country. I am an adult male, christian, Caucasian, American-born, conservative, heterosexual. Tell me who is more despised in the world than I am today. I'm blamed for everything wrong in society today. Everybody is a victim except me. I'm viewed by society as the oppressor. I have every reason to cry "second-class" treatment. But I don't. Why? Because I choose not to feel that way. You know what truly makes a person or a group first-class citizens? The ones who don't allow themselves to be labeled by society and rise above it all. Forget me for a moment, and think about the groups of people that have legitimately been treated less than first-class over the years. Now think about the individuals and groups who have persevered and have found fullness out of life in spite of opposition real or perceived. They are first class citizens. What about the ones who haven't yet and are still complaining about it today? Nobody treats them as second-class but themselves.
The "I feel disenfranchised" and the "I'm being discriminated against" groups can refer to the above paragraph.
"I shouldn't have to feel ashamed for who I want to be with." Those who make statements like this one or something similar to it feel the disapproval from others and guilt or shame starts to set in. In private, no shame. In public, shame. Peer pressure is such a fascinating phenomenon! If there is nothing wrong with it why feel ashamed public or private? Because too many of us base are moral compass on the approval or disapproval of the masses. The way I see it, those who want to avoid such shame believe passing the law is the equivalent of public approval and therefore OK to do. At the very least making it law would mean punishment to those who still dare to make others feel ashamed.
The argument that there should be the same tax breaks and health care allowances for gay couples as married heterosexual couples doesn't have much merit since most cities are passing laws to allow gay couples those legal rights. Marriage therefore isn't necessary to allow for such financial benefits. Gay couples have been given this special consideration simply because they are gay. What of heterosexual couples who are not married? Can they get benefits for their unwed partner? Have they been given the same consideration? Regardless, I still am not in favor of these laws since it still promotes relationships counter-productive to the family unit.
Probably the most frustrating argument I hear is when someone asserts that a person who is gay didn't choose to be gay, he/she was just born that way. It is always frustrating to hear someone attempt to avoid accountability for their actions. I hear this about murderers, pedophiles, alcoholics, adulterers, incest, etc. "You can't blame them, they were born that way!" Perhaps. But those who kill, rape little children, or are otherwise mentally unstable, are removed from mainstream society. I'm not suggesting that homosexuals must be removed from society, but it is interesting the company they put themselves with when they make that argument.
David Hyde Pierce, this one's for you. You said that you find it odd that strangers have a vote on your private decision to marry. I find it odd that you think anybody's private decisions don't in some way have consequences on the public. Virtually every decision we make in private has been previously sanctioned by law or is punishable by law. Additionally, those laws have been previously voted upon by the public in some way. I also like his choice of words. Very strategic. He used the word 'strangers' instead of 'fellow citizens'. The word 'strangers' sounds more sinister.
In the end, this is my opinion. It is only one opinion. Regardless of the rationale to protect marriage or the rationale to change it, the people should decide its fate by popular vote like in California. If the majority vote to the contrary in the future, so be it. I won't be happy with it, but I would honor it. Likewise, I expect the opponents of Proposition 8 to honor the will of the public and not attempt to sidestep it like San Francisco and other communities did a few years back by brazenly disregarding it and rebelliously issuing marriage licenses contrary to the law. I expect that opponents of Prop. 8 to recognize all laws and not pick and choose the laws to obey. Had the vote went the other way, I would be hearing from those for gay marriage rejoicing and declaring to the media that the system works and that people like me must honor the public's decision. Right now, I'm hearing that same group lament that the system is broken and that there are many who can't and won't accept the decision and will of the people.
This is my longest blog yet and I'll likely not make one this lengthy again. But, like all my other blogs, I'm choosing a subject where we see those who are challenging the stability of this society by letting their passions rule at the expense of well-founded principles. Finally, like all my blogs I see the overwhelming majority who make decisions based on emotions and selfishness find themselves in the liberal camp of our society, and the conservatives overwhelmingly favor decisions anchored in principles and unclouded by their passions if the two ever conflict.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
This is a spin off from my last blog in August 2008 where I made this statement about John Edwards: "His liberal leaning views on social issues including marriage doesn't help either. These liberal views actually devalue the sanctity of marriage and marginalize the need for it." This was in reference to John Edwards and my beliefs or at least opinions why he had an affair. Are liberal points of view regarding social issues actually at odds with the institution of marriage? Before I answer the question, I will clarify the type of marriage I'm talking about. When I use the word marriage by itself, I mean the lawfully recognized union between a man and a woman. Now my answer to the question is: Yes.
The fundamentals of liberalism and marriage are incompatible. True liberals prefer relativism over absolutism. They like to go with the flow and prefer passions to dictate their lives over principles. This creates a very self-centered attitude and a "me first" process of thought. If we look at marriage we find its tenets are anchored in the opposite. The covenants in marriage are absolute and not designed to be changeable. In marriage, passions are never enjoyed at the expense of its principles. This is designed to promote an attitude to put the spouse's preferences or comfort first over oneself if the two ever conflict.
Liberals love inclusion while marriage is itself, very exclusive: one man and one woman of a certain age and mental health. Each promising not to let anyone else into their particular circle of marriage. This goes completely against the grain of liberalism. True liberals believe nobody should be left out. Everyone should join whatever group, club or institution they want and to deny any human this "right" is wrong and unconstitutional. Their slogan could very well be: 'If it feels good, do it, and don't try to stop me or make me feel guilty for doing it'.
I'm not saying that it is impossible for a liberal-minded person to enjoy a successful marriage. I am saying that I'm not surprised to see a person who is moved principally by emotion, passion, and convenience to satisfy his own personal desires and wants at the expense of his marriage covenant. I am also saying that the two institutions (marriage and liberalism) are largely incompatible since the institution of traditional marriage and family is one of the fundamental pillars of conservatism.
Marriage and liberals, how are they getting on? Probably not well at all since they (liberals) are the only ones in our country trying to change the laws of marriage and what it stands for in our society.......
......and they call themselves the tolerant party.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
My general lack of surprise is that, statistically, Mr. Edwards is just another number. Besides, I don't have the time to express my shock every time a man or woman commits adultery whether I know them or not. Depending on what source you believe since it is difficult to get accurate numbers for obvious reasons, infidelity occurs roughly in 40% of the marriages in the U.S. give or take. Some studies project that 60% of the men and 40% of the women have had an affair at some point in their marriage.
Regarding John Edwards specifically, consider that simply being a man gives him a 60% chance of straying. That number goes up with men and women who spend large amounts of time away from home. The celebrity status he has enjoyed over the past decade increases exposure to his adoring public and with that the offers and/or opportunities for extramarital relationships. His liberal leaning views on social issues including marriage doesn't help either. These liberal views actually devalue the sanctity of marriage and marginalizing the need for it. (A blog about that last statement is forthcoming) When these factors are considered, what did you expect?
Few and far between are those who can tour like a celebrity or sports superstar and resist the tempting indulgences that go hand in hand with American fame. Married men and women are no less tempted than their single counterparts. The few successful ones who do balance fame and marriage without infidelity likely tour/travel with their spouse or at least avoid the bars and clubs.
What baffles me is that so many people all this time actually had the impression that John Edwards was above the fray. I suppose that we all hope that our candidate is an honorable person and it's better that we should assume such until proven otherwise. But when the words scandal and politician share the same sentence so often, it's a wonder that feelings of surprise and shock still exist out there.
It's not that I make predictions of who will cheat next, nor did I ever think to myself prior to this story breaking that John Edwards is having an affair. Furthermore, the purpose of this blog is neither to condemn him nor excuse him. Like all of my blogs, I try to communicate the folly in letting our emotions rule the day and simply reacting to a situation as opposed to a more objective and calmer approach to the problems and challenges our society faces. Emotionally-based dialogue and decision-making on a particular issue is never as productive and as useful as calm, rational thinking and communication. It may not be as exciting, but being the voice of reason never was.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
First, we must understand the nature of trans-fats. Just as you can't blame a shark for behaving like a shark, you can't blame trans-fats for behaving like trans-fats. Like wild animals, they have the potential to be hazardous to our health, but that only happens when we don't show them the proper respect. If you walk up to a mother crocodile and her young, you're almost certain to experience an attack from the mother croc and risk serious injury and even death. In turn, if you eat a cheeseburger and fries daily, you're almost certain to experience an attack on the heart and risk serious injury and even death. The trick is to avoid those potentially dangerous situations in the first place. To put it plainly, they're not problem, we are.
We shouldn't be blaming trans-fats in the first place for the obesity of our society. The definition of obesity has become more inclusive in recent years so diagnosis of it has naturally increased. In our society, we are prone to assigning blame to anything and anyone but ourselves. We are obsessed with finding a scapegoat. We work hard to avoid personal responsibility and accountability. We blame guns, not the gunman in shooting deaths. We blame the difficult test, not the unprepared child taking it when the child fails it. We blame the referees, not the players when our team loses. Over the years, the health and science world frequently gives us a new culprit to blame for obesity, it used to be the caloric intake when I was a child. Then it was the fats, then it was the saturated fats, now it is the trans-fats. Each time changing it a little because they realized that moderate calorie intake was vital to good health. Then they realized after further study that some fat intake is vital to good health and so on. How soon before a new study will reveal that trans-fats in moderation probably isn't bad for us either, maybe even vital? The smart doctors and scientists understand better and over the years haven't changed their tune: Eat right and EXERCISE! It is amazing the overall disregard we can give to a nutrition label when we have an active lifestyle. A wider margin of error almost always can be enjoyed in our pleasure foods when we exercise regularly. Interestingly, few people who exercise consume foods with large amounts of sugars, salts, or fats. Even more interesting, they didn't need a nutrition label to tell them that. When we are active and exercising, our bodies can tell us immediately whether or not a certain food is beneficial for us. It is an amazing system.
But instead of promoting personal responsibility and restraint, our leaders and politicians think that they can do the regulating and restraining for you. Sadly, too many of us prefer someone else to do our thinking and worrying for us and relinquish way too much power and authority to the government. Laziness and lack of discipline are largely to blame, not the trans-fats. Yes, there are exceptions and unique cases, but that doesn't justify passing sweeping restrictions and ordinances for the entire population. It doesn't justify allowing the extinction of trans-fats and, more importantly, the extinction another liberty and choice we'll never get back again.
In case you haven't been able to read between the lines, this isn't about the trans-fats for me. It was never about the trans-fats, and it never was about the trans-fats for those who want to ban them. It's about holding on to all the personal liberties, freedoms, and choices that I can and should enjoy. It is interesting that so many want to see the trans-fats go, but have never been in favor of prohibition or removing tobacco use from our society. Those substances kill more in one year than obesity will in my lifetime. Like tobacco and alcohol, trans-fats may never be the cause of death for the consumer. The difference between them is that other people don't die from a trans-fat related car accidents, nor do people die from second-hand trans-fat consumption.
As long as we think that drugs and alcohol are OK to consume as long as we are "responsible" with them, there is certainly no need to ban the trans-fats. Furthermore, it is, in my view, extremely hypocritical for a lawmaker or politician who enjoys a cigarette or an alcoholic beverage to want to ban trans-fats from among our society. I'm not saying that we shouldn't take steps to remove potentially hazardous substances in the name of good health. What I'm really saying is that we should address the weightier matters first. Unfortunately, that might require the politicians to first deal with the one on the other side of the mirror instead of the ones on the other side of the camera.
Monday, August 4, 2008
While I acknowledge that not all conservatives have a conservative view on 100% of the issues debated, I wonder how a person can just be mostly conservative. But more on that another time.
I take a strong pro-capitalism view and therefore am a big supporter of the free market system that exists in our nation. That tends to be the prevailing view among most conservatives. The free market system promotes innovation, competition, and therefore more choices for the consumer. The law of supply and demand in this system is in a constant state of flux so a business in this model has the potential of being a success or a failure. By extension, a person's dream of self-sufficiency and independence that having wealth brings can also be realized in this system. The sky is the limit. So why do too many of us despise those who do succeed? Why hate those who made it to the top? In sports, we love the underdog, the Cinderella story, but we hate the team on top. In business the same is true. We're pulling for the struggling small businesses but disgusted the big, strong corporations. Why is big business a bad thing? Why is Walmart evil for being a success? Why call it VoldeMart?
Well, here are some of the reasons why that I frequently hear from the Walmart-haters:
- All they care about is profit.
- They can sell their goods for less because they were made by children in sweatshops in countries that are too poor to demand better for fear of losing out to competing poor countries.
- They profit by underpaying their employees.
- They kill the Mom-and-Pop stores when they come into a town.
- They hurt the community's economy by sucking up all the consumer dollars and leaving none for anyone else.
- They have terrible customer service.
The first five I listed are either half-truths or misconceptions. The last one may make them a poor operating business, but certainly not evil. Maybe next week I'll take the time to address each one individually. But each one is a negative spin to the results of doing business in a free market system.
The truth is, the Walmart haters really don't care about those (alleged) exploited child laborers. They don't care how much or how little an employee of Walmart makes. They don't care about the Mom-and-Pop stores. It usually comes down to either being offended by an employee of Walmart or just plain jealous of Walmart's success and status. Either reason reflects more poorly on the individual who dislikes Walmart than on Walmart itself, which is why most prefer using a more nobler reason than jealousy or frustration with inexperienced employees to explain why VoldeMart is their newest vocabulary word.
As for myself, I support Walmart and businesses like it. As long as they operate within the existing laws, I could care less how big or profitable they become. They've earned it. It wasn't given to them and it shouldn't be taken from them in the name of fairness and equality. The free market system guarantees equal opportunity, not equal results. We would all do well not to stifle or hinder the success of businesses like Walmart simply because we think in our view that they have been on top long enough and it's only fair that someone else takes their place. It's that idea of "fairness" that too often gets the government interfering and makes a mess of the market by penalizing big businesses' success. I would never want my co-workers convincing my boss that I've made too much money for too long and that it is someone else's turn to enjoy my job simply because I've been so successful for so long.
At the end of the day, those who regard Walmart as evil have no real evidence to back it up other than anecdotal. If there was ever any real evidence, stronger action would have been taken against Walmart besides name-calling. It's hard to think objectively when our emotions get in the way. In my mind, that is the biggest difference between conservative thinking and liberal thinking in any issue. To me, it the best explanation why a conservative on virtually every political and social issue will occasionally find himself in the liberal camp. He let his emotions get in the way.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Well, I think I know where you went, all of you NO IRAQ WAR demonstrators. You are currently experiencing demonstration fatigue. Similar to the "donation fatique" where one crisis after another led to shrinking donors and their donations to 911, Katrina, and tsunami victims, you war demontrators are equally as drained and are simply taking a breather. The classic flesh is weak, but spirit willing scenario.
While all of you are recharging for the next demonsration, let me give you a few suggestions for new causes to champion. Don't worry, like your objection to the Iraq war, I'm only suggesting causes that have to do with needless deaths and innocent bystanders to such cruelty. All of these death tolls eclipse annually the troop deaths collectively over the entire Iraq and Afghan war campaigns:
Alternative causes to protest:
- The thousands of innocent lives taken each minute by abortion.
- The thousands that die each year innocently by drunk drivers.
- The thousands that die each year by second-hand smoke.
- The thousands of murders and rapes that take place by repeat offenders who should have been in jail to begin with.
If you are willing to proudly display your NO IRAQ WAR signs on the bumper of your car in an attempt to bring those troops home and thus spare them from death by the hands of, in your view, a horrible tyrant an murderer (you know, George W). Then I expect you are only resting from the protesting schedule to make room for at least four more bumper stickers on your car. Or perhaps you have finally admitted that it was never about the death toll of our troops for you in the first place.
But if you ever decide to put forth the same effort in attempt to spare our innocent, our children, our rising generation from truly horrible people, I'll rush to the front of the line to give you my support, my gratitude, and my apologies for ever doubting you.
Coming soon: Save our Trans-fats!