1775 – American Revolution: The British advancement by sea begins; Paul Revere and others warn the countryside of the troop movements.
1949 – The aircraft carrier USS United States is laid down at Newport News Drydock and Shipbuilding. However, the giant ship is canceled 5 days later, resulting in the Revolt of the Admirals.
COINCIDENCE? I think NOT!
“Grown men should not be having sex with prostitutes unless they are married to them.”
— Rev. Jerry Falwell
“The Spirit tells me, Fidel Castro will die in the 90′s.”
— Rev. Benny Hinn
FROM THE CHURCH OF INEFFABLE STUPIDITY
If it was good enough for some two part, badly translated, mostly borrowed, and politically edited fairy tale, then ten arbitrary, off the cuff rules must be good enough for the rest of us. Please feel free to take my post in vain.
These commandments should be read like speed limits. Obey them only when it pleases you, especially if your radar detector is not working. Except in school zones, where you must slow down and keep a careful eye open.
1) Read, write, study, learn.
Honestly, what one thing separates us from animals? Writing, written history, and the intertubes. We can share information, knowledge, and experience today in ways never dreamed of just two decades ago. Sure, a lot of it is crap, (see, generally, Drudge, PalinPac, Whirled Nut Delay, WaPo of late, and the formerly honored Wall Street Urinal) but frankly, it pays to see what the great unwashed NeoConmen and Tea Baggers and are brewing up now.
Learning something new is one of humanity’s greatest achievements. Applying that new knowledge is close to saint-hood.
2) Practice what you preach.
The Intertubes offer most of us anonymity. I post my name in my profile, and have suffered for it. But, unless I am willing to stand up for my (ahem) beliefs, what impact can I ever expect my words to have? We must stand up against injustices. We must learn from our mistakes. We must admit our faults (but not grovel about their occurrence). And, we must act in line with what we say we promote.
If that means that we need to organize an anti-teabagger meeting, so be it. I suggest July 4th as an appropriate date. They can choose the Ides of April to protest their lower taxes. We should, and must, stand up and demand that freedom and independence have responsibilities, as well as benefits.
3) Organized religions do great harm. One must fight the worst of their impact.
So far, the courts have done pretty well. Despite 8 yrs of W, there still is a separation of state and religion. Creationism is not a science, intelligent design is neither, and religious folks who demand that we accept their ways on all issues must be acknowledged politely, then stopped in their tracks. It is not only a 4 yr old girl being reborn, confessing her worldly sins on the 700 Club, it is not only Texass Skule Bored rewriting history, nor is it only the insane claim that only christians can understand what moral behavior is.
Every single time that anyone replaces fact with faith, society takes a hit. The more that faith intrudes, the worse things get for society. Sure, there are many imponderables, many unknowns, even many known unknowns. But to regress to “faith” in response to an unknown is what religion demands of us. We must do the opposite. When there is a hard question, we should be spurred on to do more research. Until we learn a factual answer.
4) Morals, ethics, and societal responsibility must be a necessary part of your daily life.
It is so cute how conservative christians claimed that they, and only they, could be moral and ethical. Everyone else was a sinner, and doomed to hell. Ted Haggard, Rev. Baker, Senators Vitter, Ensign, and many other family values creeps proved the opposite to be the case. Their theft of those issues caused a great deal of harm. It is time we reclaimed them from religious cretins.
Morals, Ethics, and societal responsibility are ours. Every day, in many ways, modern society expresses our current standards and beliefs about what constitutes proper behavior. Some call them laws. Legislation. Statutes. Codes. But laws alone do not constitute (and never can) the whole of what “Morals, Ethics, and social responsibility” are. Unless you are the unfortunate recipient of genes, head injuries, or magnetic forces, which prevent you from having an ethical internal debate, (the amazing brain) all of us have some clue of what is right and wrong. It would do all of us some good to study it even further, starting much earlier in life. Say, age 15 or so.
5) If you covet your neighbor’s spouse, be sure to pay all divorce costs.
Seriously, if you and she/he want to get it on, go for it. But be prepared to responsible for your (and his/her) actions. Despite the Papal Maltese Decree that divorce is a mortal sin (and far worse than his bishops covering up thousands of sex abuse cases around the world), life goes on. People are attracted to others. People realize they made huge mistakes in relationships. People need to act responsibly.
One very good corollary to this commandment: ALWAYS GET A PRE-NUPT! That applies to same sex marriages, too, folks. Frankly, the more you think about a permanent relationship, AHEAD OF TIME, the better your’s will be.
6) An open mind is the most cherished prize. Keep the gates to your mind well oiled.
I recently read a couple of posts this weekend, one by Black Kos, and another, by a transgendered person. It struck me that my own gateway to my brain was getting rusty. I deal with many people of color in my profession, quite often. But until I could actually stand in their shoes, how the hell could I understand the daily racism, subtle as it is, that they feel and (even worse) expect? Or as powerfully, how the hell could I ever understand the confusion, the pain, the societal abuse poured upon people who are transgendered? This weekend, I realized that I continue to be a racist, close-minded pig, on top of being a sarcastic curmudgeon. This weekend, I pledged to fix it, no matter how long it takes.
I better get a lot of WD40 for the brain.
7) Government IS by the people and for the people. Make sure it stays that way.
What a horrible time we live in. What great times these are! It is great and horrible. Somehow, that which brings us together, government, has been redefined as the enemy, something to shrink, then drown. How did we let this happen?
Well, partly it is the fault of those in government. I am not talking about the time warp that occurs within Chicago’s Central Post Office, where everything seems to move a t h a l f s p e e d . . . . but rather, those who create secrets, or withhold information we citizens need in order to make decisions when we vote. NSA is a pimple that popped. Yes, having such wonderful eyes and ears all over the world is an asset we should not toss aside. Yes, having a functioning FBI is an asset. Even, to some degree, having a CIA (but without the torture squads, the Blackwater subcontracts, and the assassination squads) can be a good thing.
However, the instant that government starts keeping too many secrets, government is no longer by the people, for the people. It becomes a separate entity, intent on its own self-preservation, “knowing more than we do” and not being able to trust us to do the right thing. BULLSHIT. An informed population is a very powerful force. A misinformed population is a very dangerous group that gets angry when it realizes that it was fooled. Take Iraq. Please. Oh, wait, we already did. Dammit.
That’s where the “Make sure it stays that way” comes into play. We cannot afford to allow government to classify everything as secret “for our own good.” I repeat, BULLSHIT. Determining what is for our own good requires our input, and therefore it requires as much information and background we can get. Secrecy is the acid which corrodes democracy.
Take Iran. Who can really believe anything the government says about that State? We’ve been lied to so often, on so many critical issues (Iraq, Afghanistan, Katrina, TARP, the economy), that everything the government tells us, (be it Petreaus or any other Soviet-medalled toy soldier they put on tv), that we cannot believe anything they say. Frankly, under Bush, if we took long positions on everything they told us being false, we’d all be billionaires. Much like Wall Street.
Government is good, so long as we have a voice in it. A good way to retrieve that voice is by banning lobbyists from DC, and have federal funding of congressional elections.
8) Be liberal in all things, especially to others, when dealing with respect, support, honor and how you pour scotch.
I am constantly amazed how “liberal” and “progressive” became profanities, while “conservative” became a path towards sainthood. We now know that the “liberal media bias” is utter crap. Conservatives, corporations, and advertising (for corporations) have way too much control over journalism, to the point that Glenn Beck and Bill and Rush and Sean actually become the sole source of misinformation for all too many people. If any liberal tried to be as fact and logic free as that gaggle of jerks, he/she would be laughed off the air. Rightly so.
Being liberal is a blessing, not a sin. It means respecting others, even including the right of a pompous Glenn faking tears on air. It means helping those in need. It means thinking not of what is most efficient, but what is the most effective for the greatest number of people. (and then searching out and helping those we missed) Being liberal is what we all should strive towards in every step we take.
Especially as it relates to how you pour my single malt.
9) Every society is damned to repeat the mistakes of the past. The more you learn about history will help limit the damage of future mistakes.
Sigh. This one speaks for itself. Sadly. When you think back to the mid 1760s, to the start of the revolution, and realize just how lucky we were to have our founding fathers, well read, well traveled, well educated, and thinking well of humanity, and how they did their damnedest to avoid the mistakes of the past, you begin to realize how magical this country is. Except for that slavery bit.
Talk to an older person. Ask them about the 50s, (McCarthy), the 60s, (Viet Nam), and more. What we see is not unique, but simply predictable human reactions in this slice of time. If we can learn how they survived, and use that experience, all of us would be far better off.
10) Nationalism is nothing more than perverted bigotry. Patriotism is fine, if you are a patriot of the world. Be a patriot.
War. Riots. Death.
Nationalism manages to tickle something deep inside our brains. It stops logical thought. It replaces it with emotion and group think. Ask any survivor of Stalin’s purges, and how he was cheered as a savior. (even after millions of families were torn apart because some were accused of treason) Ask those who lived in and survived Hitler’s Germany.
Nationalism is evil. It leads to violence. At its best, it is as bad as organized religion. At its worst, it leads to world wars.
We now have global telecommunications. A global economy. A global understanding. And, we have a global need. It is time to start acting and thinking globally. We are al patriots. It is simply that that for which we should feel patriotic is a tiny, water covered, hot iron rock, orbiting a rather boring star, stuck in an unfashionable arm of the galaxy.