Monday, May 31, 2010

The Lust for Money and War

One of the temptations of Jesus (whose real name was Joshua, but the way) was when the Devil offered him political power over the world, and he refused it.

Then there was Jesus’ comment about being unable to serve both God and money. St. Paul echoed this when he wrote that “The lust [not love] of money is the root of all evil.”

The lust for money, and the lust for political power. The trouble those two things have wrought in the world! Most especially when they’re combined.

Governments have killed more people in the world than everything else combined. That’s what political power does.

And then we have the lust for money. And when the lust for money is combined with the lust for political power, one thing it manifests itself as are central banks.

In the U.S., it’s known as the Federal Reserve Bank, only it is not federal, has no reserves, and it not a bank. It is in fact a corporation owned by international bankers, yet it has the legal monopoly to issue money and credit.

Since the Fed was created in 1914, the dollar has lost 99% of its value, and the United States has suffered some exceptionally bad boom/bust cycles, such as the meltdown, followed by the housing crash. Both of which were caused by the Fed.

The human suffering the Fed has caused has been catastrophic.

Most people don’t know it, but almost all of our income taxes go to pay the interest on the national debt. And who is that interest owned to? International banks. People are working to give their money to multibillionaire international financiers.

These banks, looking for profits in all places, have financed both sides in major wars. They financed the Nazis. They remind me of the Ferengi from Star Trek: peace is good for business, and war is good for business.

Even though both Jesus and Paul condemned the lust for political power and the lust for money, these condemnations don’t appear to have penetrated into the minds of the leaders of churches.

While some of these leaders understood the role of what I’ve heard called “the munitions men,” most apparently don’t have a clue about “the money men” – central banks ruled by international financiers. The ones who fund the munitions men.

How many of them know the Great Depression was created and then extended by the inept manipulations of the Fed? And that the depression spread to Germany, facilitating the rise of Hitler and the Nazis? And then the start of World War II?

You can make the argument World War II in large part was caused by the lust for money. So, then both Jesus and St. Paul were right.

Simple comments, thousands of years old, and they still have not penetrated into people’s minds.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Education as Art

I believe in KISS – Keep it Simple, Stupid. I consider that acronym a variation of Occam’s Razor – look for the simplest explanation, don’t multiply things unnecessarily.

Having said those things, I will give my definition of art: to wake up people. It’s the same definition Ezra Pound used, and if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me.

Now let’s take school for an example. Or actually, I should say education. The real purpose of education is to wake students up. That means education is actually art, and since I make no distinction between art and science, education is both.

Notice I make a distinction between school and education. If the purpose of education is to wake students up, the purpose of schools is to put them to sleep. Through boredom, which is rampant in schools. It certainly was when I was in school, which is why I daydreamed all the time.

Public schools appear to be designed to bore students. How can any student not be bored sitting at a desk, listening to a teacher, then walking to another desk and another teacher? All doing this all day, five days a week, for 12 years?

Treating students the way they are treated, it seems to me the purpose of schools is to create a standardized product. This means schools are actually factories. Five-year-olds come in at one end and exit the other 12 years later, as 17-year-olds.

Education is supposed to waken students’ intelligence and fill them with useful knowledge. It doesn’t do this, and hasn’t for a long time.

H. L. Mencken wrote in The American Mercury of April 1924 that the aim of public schools is not “to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. ... Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim ... is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States... and that is its aim everywhere else.”

What all of today’s awful schools have in common is that they are “public” schools, which is camouflage for “government” schools. The purpose of government schools, avowed or not, is to create bored students. You can see this boredom is such famous movie as “Ferris Buehler’s Day Off” and less well-known films as “Donnie Darko.”

One thing I will say about public schools is that they are experts in the Science of Boredom. The question is, are schools purposely designed to be boring? I don’t know.

There are, however, terrible problems associated with boredom. Boredom has traditionally been considered a sin, that of acedia. One of the main problems with boredom among the young is the abuse of drugs and alcohol. So it doesn’t take too much of connect-the-dots to realize public schools are unwittingly designed to encourage drug abuse among students.

I saw this use of drugs and alcohol when I was in high school. It’s now got down to middle school, and has for a long time. The mentality of politicians, police and some parents is to use the law to prevent this drug use, while the boredom of school encourages it. This is the same thing as pressing on the accelerator and the brake at the same time, which is about the best definition of government I’ve ever heard.

I see no way out of these problems whatsoever except to close the public schools down.

Atheism and Science as Totalitarianism

I’ll start with something Dostoevsky had the Grand Inquisitor say in “The Brothers Karamazov”: “So long as man remains free he strives for nothing so incessantly and painfully as to find someone to worship. But man seeks to worship what is established beyond dispute, so all men will agree at once to worship it. For these pitiful creatures are concerned not only to find what one or the other can worship, but find something that all will believe in and worship; what is essential is that all may be together in it. This craving for the community of worship is the chief misery of every man individually and all humanity from the beginning of time.”

What Dostoevsky wrote is important, and it’s important because it’s true, and being true it applies to everyone.

The word “religion” means “to tie together, to bind.” Everything is a religion, and that includes atheism.

Although there are many exceptions to the rule, science is general is materialistic and atheistic. I have nothing against science qua science, but it does not necessarily have to materialistic or atheistic. Any philosopher who is an objective idealist can explain why.

I used to wonder in the past why people believed in predestination. Then it occurred to me it was because it gave them comfort and security, as long as the believed they were the ones destined to go to Heaven. And, of course, there was the satisfaction in believing those who disagreed with them were going straight to Hell.

Scientists are not necessarily any different. Many are determinists, strict believers in cause-and-effect, and I’ve seen them argue with a powerful enough computer they could predict a person’s actions from birth to death.

Such a thing is impossible, so why would they believe it? Because they get comfort from being convinced they know the absolute truth of things. It gives them community and meaning and importance in their lives. They are perfect examples of what Dostoevsky wrote: they seek someone (in their case, something) to worship, and in doing so desire to give up their freedom to even consider a belief system.

I cannot remember who said it, and I cannot remember the exact quote, but it was along the times of, “A new theory does not triumph by converting its opponents. It wins because it’s opponents die off and a new generation is raised with the new one.”

Many people seek perfect security, a security in which they give up their freedom, and they don’t even know they’re doing it. Few things are as seductive as being convinced you are absolutely right – even if you are not.

Of course, those who are convinced they are absolutely right never believe Dostoevsky’s description applies to them: it always applies to other (deluded, of course) people.

Religion has killed a lot of people, but that was done by those who were (and are) fanatics: I am right, you are wrong, and being wrong, you are evil, and therefore must die.

Atheism, however, and most especially in the 20th Century, has killed more people than religion ever did. And it did so for the same reasons: fanaticism. The belief that I am absolutely right.

Science, of course, is not totalitarian. But when it is based on atheism and materialism, and that becomes part of the Zeitgeist, it can have devastating consequences. The Nazis, for example, were heavily influenced by evolutionary theory, and they got their eugenics program from the United States, which had been busy sterilizing people to “improve the race.”

Most atheists (but not all) are leftists, since leftism is a cheap, easy way for people to convince themselves they have true community. So what we have, then, are two things which cannot work in any society: atheism and leftism.

When educated people cease believing in God, we not only end up with Nietzsche’s predictions about wars beyond imagination (and he was right), we end up with the less intelligent becoming religious fanatics, such as the worst of modern-day fundamentalists.

One of the reasons they’ve become like this is because of materialistic science attacking their beliefs. So they become defensive and fanatical in return. They also attack in return, such as in the push to get creationism or Intelligent Design taught in schools.

Few on either side realize they are feeding off of each other. Who’s going to get hurt, of course, are those who belong to neither camp. In other words, the mass of people, the ones who have, historically, paid the price when they’re caught in between fanatics.

Materialism and Nihilism

Materialism always ends in atheism, nihilism and genocide. It’s a house built on sand, to use a Biblical phrase, or one made of straw, if you want to go the children’s-story route, but either way, it will always collapse, taking a lot of innocent people along with it.

The two men who saw those connections most clearly in the 19th Century were Nietzsche and Dostoevsky. Both, not at all surprisingly to me and a lot of other people, predicted the horrors of the 20th Century -- and possibly beyond ("The story I have to tell," wrote Nietzsche, "is the history of the next two centuries").

When Nietzsche wrote his most famous saying – “God is dead” – he didn’t mean there had been a cardiac arrest in the clouds. He meant the educated people of his time had replaced their belief in religion with the belief in science, i.e. materialism.

When Dostoevsky, in “The Brothers Karamazov,” wrote, “If there is no God, then everything is permitted,” he was saying the same thing Nietzsche did. These beliefs are held not only by the educated, but also percolate down to the masses, not necessarily as conscious articulated beliefs, but as the Zeitgeist – the Spirit of the Times.

Both of these men predicted the horrors of Nazism and Communism, both officially atheistic and materialist philosophies. Why did these things happen? While not the only reason, although it may be the main one, when Man ceases to believe in anything beyond himself, he is left with nothing to worship except himself.

The Russian writer Dmitri Merejkowski (1865–1941), believed all religions could be divided into two basic ones: in the first, Man sacrifices Man to Man. In the second, God sacrifices Himself to Man. Right now, I’m only concerned with the first.

With materialistic and atheistic philosophies, Man, left with nothing to worship but his self, will always sacrifice other men to himself. Again, why? Because when he worships himself as a god, those who disagree with his beliefs have to be devils.

And being devils, they have to be eradicated. The word for this is “scapegoating” and it has been noticed for thousands of years. The scapegoating of people, which leads to genocidal human sacrifice, is unwittingly encouraged by materialists and atheists.

Materialism is the belief that man is nothing but an animal. There’s the rub. If Man believes he is nothing but an animal, he cannot handle this, and so turns himself into a god and worships himself. It gives him community and meaning and importance, things no one can live without.

"If the doctrines...of the lack of any cardinal distinction between man and animal, doctrines I consider true but deadly," wrote Nietzsche, "are hurled into the people for another generation...then nobody should be surprised when...brotherhoods with the aim of the robbery and exploitation of the non–brothers...will appear in the arena of the future."

Not surprisingly, scientists who are atheists and materialists tend to be leftists (and Nazism and Communism are leftist). The irony is lost on them. Leftism is the belief we can be one big happy family, as long as the rationalists (which is what many scientists by definition are) plan and run society.

Aldous Huxley predicted these things in “Brave New World”: a rationally-planned society, essentially a proto-Borg world. A nihilistic society in which people cover up their emptiness and lack of meaning and purpose through the use of drugs – “soma.’

Currently Tom Wolfe is the most accurate at predicting trends in society, especially in his novel, “I am Charlotte Simmons,” in which he juxtaposes the materialistic science of the clueless faculty with the drug-and-sex-soused lifestyle of the students. Wolfe never comes out and says it, but he’s clearly suggesting the first leads inexorably to the second. Materialism and atheism leads to nihilism, he’s telling us.

Artists, Ezra Pound told us, are the antennae of the race, and the purpose of art is to wake people up. Both Dostoevsky and Nietzsche were artists, and unfortunately woke only up only a handful of people, none of whom had any effect. The same applies to Huxley and Wolfe.
But as for Mass Man, the sheeple, they will, as always, suffer from their blindness to reality. The fix is in for those asleep, always has been and always will be. The human comedy never runs out of material, and it has never let me down.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Producers and the Thieves

The Producers and the Thieves

This is an oversimplification, as everything is an oversimplification, but in this case it’s not by very much. There are essentially two kinds of people in the world: those who produce, and those who steal. The same applies to political systems.

Albert Jay Nock famously called producing the Economic Means. The thieving he called the Political Means. The Economic Means is based on persuasion; the Political Means on force and fraud.

Alfred North Whitehead, in his book, Adventures of Ideas, had this to say about the difference between persuasion and force: "The creation of the world -- said Plato -- is the victory of persuasion over force...Civilization is the maintenance of social order, by its own inherent persuasiveness as embodying the nobler alternative. The recourse to force, however unavoidable, is a disclosure of the failure of civilization, either in the general society or in a remnant of individuals...

"Now the intercourse between individuals and between social groups takes one of these two forms: force or persuasion. Commerce is the great example of intercourse by way of persuasion. War, slavery, and governmental compulsion exemplify the reign of force."

Sometimes it requires a lot of study and analysis to ferret out those who engage in the Political Means. Let’s use the concept of money, for example.

Money is a means of exchange. Before it was created (and governments had nothing to do with its creation) people had to barter goods. With the creation of money, people exchanged money for goods. People who make things can trade much more easily with other people who make things using money.

Instead of trying to find someone who wanted to exchange the furniture you built for they made clothes they made (what if the person who made the clothes didn’t need any furniture?) you instead gave them money instead for their clothes. Then they used the money to buy what they wanted. The discovery of money, then, is responsible for the creation of advanced civilization.

There should, however, be no more money in a society than things made.

Now we come to some problems. If money supply grows faster than the amount of things made, then theft is taking place. This is what inflation is: too much money chasing too few goods. Inflation is not rising prices; that’s just a symptom. Inflation is an increase in the money supply beyond the goods created.

Inflation, then, is theft. It’s stealing the goods people create.

As Carolina Hartley writes, “The thief creates extraneous dollars and spends them first: at the time when the rest of us expect a dollar to be worth a certain amount. By the time the thief's dollars have been absorbed into the economy, we notice our dollars are buying less. This is inflation. The thief has dipped into our savings and traded with shoddy bills.”

What happens when money supply shrinks compared to things made? The opposite of inflation. Deflation, which is characterized by falling prices. There is too little money chasing too many goods.

Since some goods don’t last, i.e., they are not durable, such as food (which usually has to be sold in a matter of days) bad things happen with deflation, just as they do with inflation. Someone who hoards money can wait until a business is on the verge of bankruptcy, then he can buy it for pennies on the dollar. This is what happened during the Great Depression for those who had money.

There’s the rub: inflation and deflation cannot happen, except in insignificant measures, unless the government gets hold the ability to create money. In other words, when the Political Means gets hold of the ability to create money, it destroys societies through inflation and deflation.

In the United States, the Federal Reserve Bank (which is not federal, has no reserves, and is not a bank) has a monopoly on the creation of fiat (i.e., counterfeit) money. This fact is why we have periods of inflation and deflation, of boom and bust. It’s due to the political manipulation of the money supply.

In fact the Federal Reserve Bank is not a government entity at all, but owned and controlled by international bankers. It is of course unconstitutional.

These international bankers and financiers use the Fed to enrich themselves at the expense of those who work. There are those who believe these banks wish to crush the entire world and return it to poverty, however, this is not true.

If they did so, then there would be no producing class they could live off of. No vampire kills their victims. Parasites always wish to keep their victims alive. However, they have no concern if there is a well-paid middle class or not.

Everyone could be working class, as long as they receive as much money as possible. Hence, their support of Third World immigration into the United States, which further enriches the wealthy and impoverishes the middle-class and lowers them into the working class.

In a nutshell what all of this means is that those who control the money supply – and they are all thieves – steal from those who produce things. They steal through inflation, and they also steal through deflation. They steal through war and they steal through peace. They also steal through the control of “future money,” i.e., credit (and we are still going through that boondoggle).

Even a gold-backed money supply doesn’t necessarily work if the Political Class (and I believe it should be capitalized) controls the gold supply.They can manipulate the price of gold to their advantage: by raising the price of gold, the Political Class exchanges their gold for other people’s money.

Then, if there is a deflation, those who now own the gold have little money. And if they price of gold goes down, those who now own the gold have lost both their money and the value of their gold. They then have to sell their gold at a loss to get some money, unless they can find someone who wants to barter gold for goods. Either way, those who control the money supply generally end up with both the gold and the money, and the average person ends up with very little of either.

The thieves in the Political Class now have the money and the gold to buy everything at a discount during economic collapses. These few reasons explain overwhelmingly why an extreme minority of people are worth billions of dollars (and getting richer) while everyone is getting poorer and poorer.

In other words, the non-producers are parasites, indeed vampires, on the producers, and have used the power of the law to their advantage to enrich themselves at the expense of those who work and produce.

These international bankers and financiers, like the Ferengi of Star Trek, believe peace is good for business, and that war is also good for business. They, in fact, finance not only war, but both sides in the conflict.

What really counts for these international bankers is information. Since all the central banks in the world are connected, information flows between them. This inside information is a huge advantage for the owners of these central banks.
During the years of the gold standard, for example, having a seat on the board of a central bank meant that the insider would know when emergency borrowings rose, signaling the probable start of a bank crisis and stock market crash.

In the case of wars, it was an easy task for a private bank with seats in several different national banks to calculate the deposits and income of the contesting states and the loans they secured to raise their armies, thus allowing the privileged few to bet on the probable winner. They could even support the probable loser, as long as profits were to be made.

These reasons are why bankers supported both Russia and Germany during World War II. They made profits from the deaths of millions of people. It does appeal St. Paul was right when he wrote, “The lust [not love] for money is the root of all evil.”
International finance and central banks, which produce nothing and only steal, are an octopus with tentacles throughout the entire world.

History is a continuous battle between the producers and the non-producers, between those who create and those who steal. Between the Economic Means and the Political Means. Ultimately, between freedom and slavery.

The only way out of this mess is to remove the control of money and gold from the Political Class. That is, close down the Federal Reserve Bank, force Congress to manage money supply as described in the Constitution, and vote corrupt, thieving and incompetent politicians out of office.

Religion as Poetry

I don’t think it’s possible to truly understand religion without some sort of poetic sense. As examples of “religious” leaders who have no poetic sense, I can name such people such as John Hagee, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.

There is no poetry in what passes for their souls. None. As a result, they have no understanding of religion.

The word “religion” means “to bind, to tie together.” It is supposed to bind us to the highest good.

The philosopher Brand Blandshard, in his book “Reason and Belief,” said this about religion: “Religion is an attempt to adjust one's nature as a whole to ultimate reality. In a sense all human life is that. But whereas the larger part of such life consists of an adjustment to what is immediately around us, religion seeks to go behind the appearance of things to what is self-subsistent, to something which, intellectually and causally, will explain everything else. And it must be conceived as a response of man's nature as a whole.”

The literal man, who has no poetic sense or imagination, can only destroy religion. Lacking any sort of poetic sense and imagination, he also lacks sympathy and empathy. He cannot put himself in another’s place. I gave as examples the men above.

I consider art to be a science. I don’t separate the two. So religion, then, is both art and science – the purpose of both being to gain knowledge of reality and wake people up.

At its best the art/science of religion is full of metaphors and similes and parables, and at its worst it’s full of literal-minded fanatical Pharisees. That’s one of the reasons there were such arguments between Jesus and the Pharisees.

I could never be an adherent of any religion that did not support music, painting, sculpture and literature. And for that matter, the art/science of humor, sensible drinking and dancing and partying. All these things are part of the good life, i.e. the “whole” life. And the word “whole” comes from the words “healthy” and “hale.”

It’s easy to tell which churches support these things and which do not. All you have to do is walk in and look around.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Propagandists and Bad Metaphors

To paraphrase Ezra Pound, the artist is the antennae of the race, and the purpose of art is to wake people up. If art is to awaken people, then what puts them to sleep? In my view, propaganda.

Being fond of analogies, I see artists as white magicians who wake people up, and propagandists as black magicians who ensorcel them and try to put them to sleep. Both types do what they do through the use of words.

Pound also wrote, “One ‘moves’ the reader only by clarity.” This is true, for good or bad. Even propagandists are clear; they just appeal to our worst instincts, such as the desire to mass murder people and seeing ‘the enemy” as the Other (i.e., evil) and the Scapegoat.

The artist sees through the propagandist.

Good art, you can say, is a blessing, and bad art a curse. I consider propaganda, and most especially political propaganda, to be nothing but bad art. Such a bad art is in fact immoral, indeed criminal.

Both types of art (and both are actually sciences) are based on an understanding of human nature. The difference is that the good artist tries to look at the whole nature of man, while the propagandists only look at part – the primitive animal part.

That primitive animal part, more than anything else, looks upon itself as Good and others as Evil. Propaganda, in fact, is based on the belief in a purely good and a purely evil, while the true artist knows in humans it does not exist: everyone is some shade of grey. The political propagandist is always a Manichee.

In actuality the propagandist is like a bad doctor making a bad diagnosis and proposing a cure that only does not work, but makes things worse. They wish to leave people in the fog and the outer darkness.

In fact, any artist is a doctor who diagnoses and prescribes cures. As always, some are bad doctors with inaccurate diagnoses and worthless cures, and others are just the opposite.

There is another way to tell the artist from the political propagandist: the use of metaphor. Aristotle once said, “The apt use of metaphor, being as it is, the swift perception of relations, is the true hallmark of genius.”

The political propagandists, bad artists and incompetent doctors that they are, can only engage in the crudest and most transparent of metaphors; the enemy is an ape, a pig, a monkey. They, the enemy, are “evil incarnate,” as if evil is a thing instead of a reification.

These black magicians are always Manichees who use bad metaphors.

Political propagandists, incompetent doctors and black magicians, sin against the well-being of a nation, and of people’s souls. Language, which can be the casting of spells, can also be the most powerful instrument of perfidy. All bad artists, propagandists, are then, perfidious.

The Misfortune of Feminism

It was in college that I first encountered feminism and realized it was not as it was portrayed. I had actually been somewhat sympathetic, believing then as I do now, in fairness.

I did not find this “fairness” in feminism. Instead I realized it was founded by man-hating lesbians, and was dumbfounded to find they had conned straight women into feeling sorry for themselves and being hostile toward men. And, instead of it claiming that men and women were equals, it instead insisted women were the victims of oppressive men – of “patriarchy,” a word I still read even today among far leftists.

These claims, as it true for all such claims, are based on the idea that problems are the fault of someone else – never the person with the problem. It relieves them of self-responsibility, although it certainly does produce hostility and resentment toward innocent people.

I was mystified by these claims of oppression, because I had never seen them. For that matter, still don’t see them. But for the women who have fallen for them, it has been very damaging to them. These claims have damaged men, too. They have driven a wedge in between men and women and their relationships.

It didn’t take me very long in those days to become aware that the women's “liberation” movement was a noxious ideology of victimhood that preached hatred of men. The proposed cure was to change men or else claim they weren’t needed. Now of course among man-hating lesbians men are not needed, but for normal women the claim is not true.

In my entire life I have never encountered any of these women supposedly trapped in suburban hell by patriarchal men -- the Betty Friedan/Gloria Steinem dystopia that launched the women's liberation movement. Every bit of it, I realized, was a myth.

Women's real problem is not male oppression but a clash of two incompatible female ambitions: work and motherhood. Because this circle cannot be squared, some women blamed men instead because they were unable to realize these ambitions.

Try as I might, I have never been able to figure out a solution to the problem of women having a career and trying to be mothers at the same time. The closest I have come – the closest anyone has come – is to have nannies to raise the children while both parents work. This solution is for people with money. Those with less money have to put them into day-care centers as fast as possible.

Of course, the only way the nanny solution can work is with a never-ending supply of poorly-paid Third Worlders to raise the children. These children, raised in their dysfunctional families, not surprisingly grow up with a great many problems.

Lacking true family, i.e. community, in their lives, and meaning and importance (which all of us must have), they become the bored, anhedonia-plagued, drug-and-sex-soused nihilists of Brett Easton Ellis’ “Less than Zero,” or of Tom Wolfe’s “I am Charlotte Simmons” (both of which remind me of Ezra Pound’s observation that the artist is the antennae of the human race, and the purpose of art is to wake people up).

Then there was the “sexual revolution.” While I had encountered very promiscuous girls in high school, it was only in college that it became political. It was a deadly mix.

Even at 21 I was encountering 19-year-olds who had sex with 15 men, then were complaining to me they could not find boyfriends. In fact, men who knew them were warning other guys to stay away from them. What was I supposed to tell these women?

Apparently these women never realized that a woman who is excessively promiscuous is known by all the guys, and her reputation is never a good one. They talk about her. Since women talk about men, how can they not realize men talk about them? “Gentlemen never tell” has never applied to sluts.

As the years went by, I realized there was a paradox: some women became promiscuous while simultaneously declaring themselves the victims of male sexual predators, which I found bizarre because the women were the predators.

I knew one such woman, who had sex with over 30 men, tell me in all seriousness that men were responsible for all the trouble in the world. She never saw the irony, since in her mind the men were responsible for her being promiscuous. How? Apparently she thought they had to power to make her act as she did.

Disturbingly, many of these women are very intelligent and highly educated. Even with these qualities, they end up unmarried and left on the shelf – their biological clocks having quit ticking as they realized to their horror they would never have husband, home and children.

Instead, they attempt to fill their lives with their careers (and cats), yet still are somehow expecting the same men they had abused and insulted to give them what they lack. Exactly how they expected this to happen, in spite of their hostility and venom, is something I have never been able to figure out. They’ve never figured it out either, because there is no answer to it.

Some of these women still think they can have it all. I’ve met 50-year-old women with fantasies of being a princess – of having a gorgeous and wealthy Prince Charming sweep them off their feet. And they are enraged he never showed up when they were younger, to support them in their careers until they decided to quit and have kids, after which he was expected to support the entire family on his own. I have never in my life met a man like this, or one stupid enough to want to be one.

Both men and women and their relationships have become losers in this game. We have lost a lot of things, and one of them is courtship rituals.

I have told women that in college I preferred to walk women home and sit on their porch and talk to them, or else go to a park and talk. That was my courtship ritual. I have always found the dinner-and-a-movie thing excruciating.

Some told me going to a park with a strange man was an invitation to rape. I found that a little strange, since the women who told me this were the most promiscuous ones I knew. I suppose it would have been okay to ask them to my apartment and then have sex with them, but sitting in a public park talking to them would have been considered an invitation to sexual assault. Again, they never saw the irony.

These problems between men and women, which always exist and always will because people are imperfect, have been exacerbated by the interference of born-rich C students who have entered politics. Laws are supposed to help, and the ones they’re passed over the last 30 years have done nothing but hinder.

For one thing, these laws have taken away the role of men as provider and protector, and have favored women economically over men. Then, again, what we end up with are women with careers, an apartment, two cats, and no husband, home and children. This is a good thing?

What would happen if the government stopped sticking its nose into what is none of its business? This means not only repealing laws attempting to social-engineer the relationships between men and women, but also the economy.

Wages, contrary to the propaganda, stopped rising in 1973, and it was because of government interference in the economy. If the government had not interfered with inflation, taxes, and laws, wages would have continued rising.

Today we’d have a good economy with plenty of high-paying jobs. A man could support a family on his income alone, and women could have a husband, home and children – which is what most, if they are honest about it, really want. They wouldn’t be forced into the job market whether they wanted it or not.

Fortunately, the tide has been turning for a while on this pseudo-feminism (what else can I call it?). Since it goes against human nature, it will ultimately fail. Unfortunately, it has left a lot of wreckage along the way.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Satire as Magic

Some years ago I found, much to my surprise, that I was good at writing satires. I had no idea that talent was in me. They were almost always very short, usually one page, and I could write them in a few hours.

Since then, I sometimes think about satire. Although this is not original with me, satire is humor plus attack. It’s about correcting the flaws of humans and society. It’s about ridiculing people’s foibles.

Comedy – and this includes satire – has been described as “tragedy plus time.” That’s true. Tragedy, which is horror, is the basis of comedy. They are the Chang and Eng of life.

Comedy, which is based on human imperfections, is about accepting them. Satire is about correcting those imperfections through ridicule. As Mark Twain (no mean satirist himself) noted, laughter is the only real weapon humanity has.

Tragedy, or horror, is about evil, or chaos, attacking good, or order. Satire, then, which is about correction, is based on horror and is about correcting evil, or expelling it. All satirists, then are (rather vulgar) theologians, or in a sense, magicians.

Satirists write fantasies in which they use magic, or spells, to expel evil. And “spell” means the use of words, or stories, to change people. For that matter, “glamour” and “grammar” have the same root word, and I have read stories in which a magician “put a glamour” on someone.

Satire, being mockery and ridicule, is also about humiliating and embarrassing people into changing their personalities and behaviors. In fact, the use of words against people can be so powerful there are laws against slander and libel.

Satirists, as magicians with words, are always feared by governments, and that is why they are the first silenced by totalitarian ones. They laugh at the Devil, and as C.S. Lewis, the one thing he cannot stand is ridicule.

Satire, in a way, is clairvoyant, or prophetic: by judging the fallen against what is right, it can, in a general way, predict the future.

All satirists are imaginative and sympathetic. As Adam Smith wrote so long ago in his “The Theory of Moral Sentiments,” imagination comes first, and is the basis of sympathy, or empathy. And to write good satire the writers have to be intelligent.

Satirists, then, tend to be more intelligent, imaginative, and sensitive than most people.

What I have described above, I in some ways find amazing. A good satirist, more intelligent, imaginative and sensitive that most, is a magician, a theologian, and a prophet. He understands people can be ensorcelled through the power of words.

But he is upfront about what he does, which makes him, as magicians go, a white magician, as compared to the black ones (who I call Hoodoo Men), who use cynically manipulate people through propaganda, for bad purposes.

The satirist is awake where others are asleep. He is a true conservative in that he believes in absolute standards against which he measures things. He understands the imperfections in people, yet still believes people can change for the better, making him a pessimist and an optimist at the same time.

Society, of course, will always have an ambivalent attitude toward the satirist, as it does with all magicians. In fact, many people, being half-asleep, will accept the Hoodoo man and his propaganda before they wake up through the prodding of the satirist.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


My last name, Wallace, is generally considered to be a Scottish name, yet it means “Welshman.” So, then, it is originally a Welsh name.

The name it derived from is “walcea,” which is the Old English word for “slave.” The English used to kidnap the Welsh and sell them as slaves in the Dublin markets. In the long ago and far away I had ancestors who where slaves.

But then, who hasn’t had ancestors who were slaves? Slavery was a very common thing in the past.

The word “slave” itself comes from “Slav,” from Slavs being kidnapped and sold into the slavery.

I personally don’t understand slavery, but then, I wasn’t raised with it. Would I have approved of it if I had been raised in such an environment? I have no idea. I like to think
I wouldn’t.

When it comes right down to it, people can only enslave others if they don’t consider them quite human. It’s our inborn narcissism, actually, that turns other people into things, “things” we can use as slaves.

Slavery can only exist if it’s legal. When it’s illegal, then there can be no slavery. In fact, it being legal, in other word being lawful through the power of the State, is as big, if not a bigger problem, than our narcissism.

I’m not an anarchist. It has never existed, and never will as long as people are imperfect, and so will never work. There will always be some form of government.

I make a distinction, as do any people, between government and the State. Government should be as small as possible. The Founding Fathers, influenced by John Locke, said its purpose was to protect “life, liberty and property.” If it goes beyond that it turns into the State.

The State doesn’t protect life, liberty and property. It intrudes on all three. It takes people’s lives away, their liberty, and their property. It enslaves (even if it calls it conscription), it murders (including mass murder through war) and it takes away property (and your life and your body are your own property).

I’ve always been amazed at people who think the State can do Good Things. Some realize the awfulness of the State when it comes to war, but then they turn around and think it can provide us with health care. They can’t seem to comprehend it’s the obverse and reverse of the same coin.

People who support universal health care – socialized health care – don’t realize they want to be slaves of the State. They will not get to choose their doctors or dentists; bureaucrats will.

They won’t get to choose their treatment; bureaucrats will. And those without choice people are slaves.

I’ve had people tell me socialized health care works in Canada. No, it doesn’t. People up there with serious problems come to the U.S. A woman in Canada who thinks she might have ovarian cancer can’t get diagnosed up there for two or three months. That’s why they come down here.

Without us to fall back on, Canada’s health-care system would be in a lot worse shape than it is. In a sense it’s a parasite on ours.

People also claims socialized health care works in northern Europe. No, it doesn’t. With
socialized health care there will always be shortages, so the question is, who is not going to be treated, and who is going to die?

In the Scandinavian countries they very rarely attempt to save premature infants. They put them off the side and lie them die. Unlike us, who make very effort to save them, no matter how much money it takes.

In the rest of Europe, you don’t get treatment after a certain age. You get painkiller until you die.

Those governments and their socialized health care programs – which should be called “slave non-health care” – are nothing the U.S. wants to emulate. If we do, perhaps it should be called the Walcea Health Care System. Very few would get the irony.

Our health care system certainly needs to be overhauled. Actually, it needs to go back to the free market, and right now it’s anything but.

The State does not consider people to be quite human. We are concrete to be shoveled around, checkers to be move as it sees fit. What the people want does not matter. It never has. That’s been the history of the world without exception.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Guns as Equalizers

Pistols, in the 19th Century, were called “equalizers” because they made the tiniest woman equal to the biggest man. I’m not even going to say I’m a believer, because I don’t “believe” it’s true, no more than I believe 2+2=4. It just is true.

I have known three women who were murdered. I did not know them personally. One was strangled by a serial killer a few weeks after I left my job and she was hired. She was a small young woman, and for that matter, the guy who killed her wasn’t that big. I could have taken him, which is why these guys kill the weaker, such as women.

The other two were sisters, and I did meet their mother. They were raped and thrown off of a bridge by four teenagers.

In each case, if these women would have had a pistol, or even a knife, they would have survived. Even a two-shot, .22 derringer would have saved their lives, just with the threat of it, if nothing else.

I once wrote an article about the two sisters, and made a silent bet with myself that at least one imbecile would tell me young people should not carry guns. I responded, “So you’re saying it’s okay that these women were raped and murdered, then?” and got no response.

I am reminded of the classical definition of a liberal: someone who would rather see a woman raped and strangled with her own panty-house rather than defend herself with a handgun.

I think it should be a law that everyone has to carry a concealed handgun. Sure, there’d be an adjustment period in which those genetically and character-deficient were eliminated, but in the long-run (meaning a few weeks) society would be much more peaceful.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Reason, Imagination, Feelings and Awareness

Reason is defined as “the making of necessary connections to discover the laws that govern reality.” Imagination is what allows us to empathize with other people, to put ourselves in their place, to “walk a mile in their shoes.”

Everyone is in some degree rational and everyone to some degree has an imagination. But not all who possess these things empathize with people. Some, such as psychopaths and the worst variant of them, such as serial killers, have no empathy at all.

In fact, serial killers use their imaginations to hone their murderous fantasies before putting them into effect. So, obviously, there is something else beyond reason and imagination. That is feeling.

Feelings – emotions – are evaluations of good and bad. Reason, imagination and feelings are connected to each other. In fact, without feelings, there is no good or bad. A computer, which has no feelings (even though it’s about as “rational” as can be) has no concept of good or bad.

Psychopaths do have some feelings, but they are never of love. What feelings they have tends to be little more than the desire for power, domination and control – over others. What they lack is a conscience – a word that means “knowledge” and “awareness.”

This “knowledge” and “awareness” means of other people as human. When they are seen as human, there is no desire for power, domination and control over them.

The word empathy comes from the word for “affection,” and “sympathy” means to “suffer with.” Both mean, again, to put your self in another’s place. Reason, imagination and feelings are necessary conditions for empathy, but they are not sufficient. There must be that awareness of the other person as human and not a “thing.” “Awake” is another good word.

I find it interesting that the word “buddha” means “awake” and comes from the word for “notice, understand.” The Buddha never said anything that any true religious leader didn’t say – people are not totally awake but instead are half asleep.

If people were awake, there would not be murder, war, slavery, theft and the other sins that plague humanity.

To see other people as human, it must be understood that our “self” is created only in relationships with others. All of us are a “social self.” No one can be a father or mother without a child, or a husband or wife without a spouse.

We are not just connected to others; we are connected to everything. Everything is a “relationship.” To understand, I think, is the first step to being awake.

The Power of Imagination

The power of imagination, for good or bad, is immense.

For good, imagination is what allows us to empathize with other people. Indeed, for Adam Smith, in his “The Theory of Moral Sentiments,” imagination constituted the whole of man’s moral sense. As Anthony Shaftsbury wrote, “All things sympathize” (i.e., sympathize with all things).

We can only empathize with others by imagining what it’s like to be in their place. Affection, the Gold Rule, benevolence – all would be impossible with imagination and therefore the ability to empathize.

Even Samuel Johnson, usually wary of imagination as a guide, wrote, “All joy or sorrow for the happiness or calamities of others is produced by an act of the imagination, that realizes the event… by placing us, for a time, in the condition of him whose fortune we contemplate; so we feel…whatever emotions would be excited by the same good or evil happening to us.”

The philosopher Tommaso Campanella, “got inside” people by imitating their every gesture in face and body and then carefully observing what thoughts and feelings he acquired by this change. This may have been a rare case back then, but is this not what modern actors do?

Since imagination is the basis of empathy, it is also the basis of literary and aesthetic pleasure. Only by the use of our imaginations can we read something, identity with the characters and therefore feel what they feel. This applies to not only fiction and non-fiction,, but also to the visual arts, such as paintings, television and movies. Indeed, it’s the main reason people watch TV and movies – to empathize with the characters and the stories of their lives.

In a sense all imagination is creative. Those who read or enjoy any of the visual arts are creating in themselves an identification with the characters. Then there are those who create the characters – those who create the fiction, the non-fiction, the paintings, the drawings, the TV, the movies. Both sides have to use their imaginations to create and sympathize with the characters.

James Arbuckle, writing on imagination, empathy and creativity, said that imagination has a free play that can turn anywhere and permit us to feel for others. This “free play” is also that very quality used for the creation of artistic compositions. He called this free play “castle-building.”

As an example of this “castle-building” I am reminded of Albert Einstein, who imagined what it would be like to ride on a beam of light. This was the same Einstein who said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

Imagination, then, is a form of play. It is responsible for our moral sense – our ability to empathize with others, whether real of fictional -- and the basis of our creativity. It is how we create and discover.

This imaginative, empathic play allows us, as Samuel Coleridge wrote, to a union of the “perceiver” and the “perceived.” “Both sympathy and empathy dissolve the boundary between the objective outside world, and the subjective self,” writes James Engell. “The imagination can, by a process of identification, extend the self out into the world and into other people. The result is neither strictly subjective nor objective, but a fusing of the two.”

This “fusing of the two” (the subjective and the objective) is similar to the Stoic concept of oikeiosis, a “process in which we gradually expand our self-concept and recognize larger and larger parts of the whole as ‘ours,’” writes philosopher Scott Ryan.

“The self and the world meet most completely through not through the senses but through an imaginative process,” writes Engell. What this means is that there is not us “in here” and the world “out there,” and we that only perceive it, empirically, through our senses. Instead, there is a relationship between the perceiver and the perceived.

These relationships are the nature of reality and as such means our “selves” are only created in imaginative, creative and empathic relationships with what we perceive.

This empathic and creative imagination is also rational. “Reason” I define as “the making of necessary connections to discover the laws of reality.” This is also the purpose of imagination. In effect, since everything is a relationship, there is an inescapable relationship between reason and imagination: ultimately the purpose of both is to discover what laws govern reality.

One of those “laws,” as both imagination and reason tell us, is that the relationships between people are just that – relationships. Since people’s “selves” are created by these relationships, in essence there is no split between egoism and altruism.

As Walter Goodnow Everett put it, “It is because the self is capable of including in its own interests the interests of others that altruism is possible. Some degree of it, indeed, may said to be inevitable. Once it is seen that the self is a social [i.e., created by relationship] self, the sharp opposition between egoism and altruism breaks down.”

Most people, on some level, understand these things, even if they cannot articulate them. For them it is implicit, not explicit knowledge. You could call it “subconscious” knowledge instead of “conscious” knowledge. Of course, it’s always better for these concepts to be conscious and known instead of subconscious and unknown. It’s better that way, for people and society.

Reason and Prudence

Prudence, the most important of the Four Cardinal Virtues, is defined as recta ratio agilbilium – right reason about things to be done. The most important part is knowledge.

Prudence is not just theoretical knowledge, but practical knowledge. It’s concerned not only with universal and unchanging truths, but also with the variable things in daily life.

Reason is defined as “making the necessary connections to discover the laws that govern reality.” Reason and prudence, then, are the same, but with one important difference – prudence is also practical knowledge. Reason is used to discover the laws, but a prudent person puts them to practical use.

Richard Maybury, author of such books as “Whatever Happened to Justice?” and “Whatever Happened to Penny Candy?” points out there are two simple, basic laws that people in all societies must follow for those societies to be successful: “Do all that you have agreed to do” and “Do not encroach on persons or their property.”

Both are these laws in essence are distilled versions of the Ten Words or Utterances (Commandments is completely wrong) in the Christian world, but they exist in all societies. Of course, the ones that don’t follow them all that faithfully are not particularly pleasant places to live.

Maybury’s Two Laws are practical (prudent) and reasonable, i.e. discoverable by reason. All true laws are discoverable by reason, which means they are inherent in human nature, in reality. They are “embedded” in nature, meaning they are Natural Laws.

In theory all of reality is discoverable by reason, although if the universe is infinite it is in toto beyond the scope of the limited human mind. Still, some people will never stop investigating reality to the extent they can -- be it law or physics or economics.

Justice, the second of the Four Cardinal Virtues, is defined as “giving to each person what is due to him, and we do this consistently, promptly and pleasurably.” Justice is concerned with the right relations with others in society. It is summed up in a simple motto: cuique suum -- to each his own.

Justice, too, is rational, i.e., discoverable by reason. If it was not, and somehow grounded in reality, then there would be no “justice,” and it would be anything that people said it was.

The third Cardinal Virtue is courage, which is based on justice, and its purpose is to remove obstacles to justice. This one is an interesting one, since it is so very often not rational.

The simplest of courage, animal courage, is an instinct and not rational at all. It is common and indeed vulgar; the most brutal and primitive of savages have it. Cultures prize this type of courage in young men, before it expends them as soldiers, almost always in unnecessary and unjustified wars. This kind of courage does not see the “enemy” as human.

The only rational kind of courage, which is strictly human and does not apply to animals, is moral courage. It is the kind of courage that attempts to understand the viewpoint of the “enemy” and tries to put itself in the other’s place (indeed, any great military leader attempts to understand the mind of the enemy).

Only moral courage is concerned with justice and prudent, i.e., discovering the laws of reality. Animal courage is not concerned with these interests at all.

Temperance, the last of the Four Cardinal Virtues, governs our appetites for pleasure. Since man can be rational, the pleasures that are in accord with reason are suitable to man. Temperance does not restrain us from the pleasures that are reasonable, but from those that are contrary to our reason.

Temperance does not act against our natural human inclinations, but works with them. Temperance is opposed to the inclinations of nature when they are like a beast that is not ruled by reason.

“A beast that is not ruled by reason” is the important part. Animal courage, for example, is a beast not ruled by reason, and is therefore not temperate, just or prudent. Moral courage, being rational, is all three.

All four of the Cardinal Virtues are interrelated; if a person does not possess one, they possess none of them. All of them are rational, i.e., discoverable by reason. If they were not, people could not be able to tell what they are, or to define them.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Empathy and Imagination

I sometimes wonder if there are people who have no imagination and are completely literal-minded. I doubt it, but I’ve met some who come close. All of them have problems relating to other people; either they’re short on empathy, or they have very little understanding of people’s motivations, which can also be considered a lack of empathy.

All of them have certain traits in common: they don’t read fiction, and they’re addicted to TV. Make of that what you will.

Imagination allows you to empathize with other people. That’s one of its functions. By imaginatively identifying with them, you in a sense bring them into you, making them part of you. As the philosopher Josiah Royce wrote, right before the 20th century, “Who can realize a given aim save by repeating it in himself?”

Another philosopher, Robert Bass, said the above account is similar to the Stoic concept of oikeiosis, a “process in which we gradually expand our self-concept and recognize larger and larger parts of the whole as ‘ours,’” writes Scott Ryan.

Adam Smith, in his “Theory of Moral Sentiments,” said that empathy (which in his day was called sympathy) was wholly dependent on imagination. If this is true, and I believe it is, then imagination is what creates benevolence in people, since they become empathic through the use of their imaginations. This leads to some truly interesting concepts.

For one: a writer creates a novel, I read it, empathize with the characters through my imagination, and so understand what the author is trying to say. Looked at from a certain angle, it’s mind-reading – and “feeling-reading,” too. As Spinoza wrote: “From the fact we imagine a thing like ourselves…to be affected by an emotion, we are thereby affected by a similar emotion.”

The same thing can happen with music. You hear a song and listen to the lyrics, and you understand what feelings and thoughts the writer is trying to get across. As James Engell wrote in “The Creative Imagination,” “…sympathy also becomes that special power of the imagination which permits the self to escape its confines, to identify with other people, to perceive things in a new way, and to develop an aesthetic appreciation of the world that coalesces both the subjective self and the objective other.”

“To mean things in a new way” means creativity. Without imagination, there can be no creativity. As Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” He didn’t say knowledge wasn’t important (indeed it’s indispensible), but that imagination is more important. And this is from a man who imagined what it would be like to ride on a light beam.

Two: I wouldn’t be able to understand what the author was trying to say unless the concepts weren’t already within me. I’d have to be born with them, which means none of us are blank slates, tabula rasas. This means, in a way, we wouldn’t understand the answer to anything unless the answer was already in us.

Three: my “self” does not stand alone, unconnected to anything. If anything, it’s created in relationship with others, even if those others are imaginary fictional characters. “I” don’t exist, apparently at all, or else in a minimal way, unless it’s in a relationship with something or somebody.

Four: if we fully understood someone else – fully, completely understood them – then it seems we’d be that person, or else very close to it. This is similar to a comment by the philosopher Brand Blandshard that to know an object fully we’d literally have to have it within our consciousness.

Even more interesting, if we could incorporate everything into us, we’d be God. We cannot do this, but the fact we can enlarge our selves adding more and more to us through our imagination, is a kind of love.

And if someone can do the same to us, then they, in varying degrees, love us. Or, as Shakespeare wrote, love is the true meeting of minds. What this means is that love cannot exist without imagination. Or, if there are truly literal-minded people in the world, they cannot love.

There are theologians, and poets, and philosophers, who claim that each of us is a “little self” in the “infinite self” of God. If this is true, then that “infinite self” understand us completely...knows everything about us.

The word “benevolence” comes partly from the words “wish” and “will.” We direct our will, our attention, on someone, and wish them benevolence. We can’t actually wish it on them, but we can wish it on them in our imagination and feelings, and that is the first step.

This empathy and imagination, and the benevolence arising from them, and the fact our “selves” are created only in relationships, means none of us can exist without some extremely large measure of cooperation. This puts the kibosh on any kind of extreme selfishness as a successful way of life.

I’ll close with something Harry Wolfson, a commentator on Spinoza, wrote, “In order to understand another we must completely identify ourselves with that other, living through imaginatively his experience and thinking through rationally his thoughts. There must be a union of minds…”

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Feeling of Home

I drove a taxi for five years. It was the most interesting job I ever had.

I went into houses in slums, went into mansions, and every kind of house in between. Some of them were houses, and some of them were homes. There is a difference in the feeling between them.

I’ve gone into mansions in which there was a coldness in the whole place. I could feel the coldness. It was a house, not a home.

Most places didn’t have much of a feeling one way or the other. But I can remember the few places I entered that were clearly homes – I could feel the warmth and love in them. They had a “family” feeling about them. One of them was a old starter house, but I remember thinking, “I really like the feeling in this place.”

Now how is this possible? But it is, and I think almost everyone can do it. How can I, or anyone else, pick up a feeling in a house that turns it into a home? I did it; I just don’t know exactly how I did it. I wasn’t imaging it.

In each case, there were people in the house, so I assume I was picking up their feelings. If there were no people in the house, could I have picked up something? I don’t know. Could there be some kind of “residue” of feeling left? I wonder.

I can understand picking up feelings from animals, but even in a way, that’s amazing. I once walked up to a house, and through the glass door I saw a bulldog with his whole rear end wagging back and forth. When I opened the door, he started doing a little dance in front of me. So I rubbed his head and petted his back, then he ran off and bought back a rubber toy to give me.

How did I know that this dog was feeling, “Oh boy oh boy oh boy!! Happy happy happy!” It’s a dog, not a person, but I knew what he was feeling. I empathized with this dog, somehow.

This lack of feeling is why I think snakes repulse so many people. They’re cold, emotionless killing machines, and people know it.

There was a philosopher, Tommaso Campanella, who lived several hundred years ago. He used to assume people’s expressions and body language, to see if he could feel what they felt. Essentially, this is what good actors do. I can understand this, and I can understand knowing what dogs feel. What owner does not know when their dog is feeling poorly?

Since every home I was in had people in it, I assume I was picking up their feelings. This means, in a sense, there was no difference between me and the home, or rather, what I was feeling was created in the relationship between me and it. The “self” I was at that time existed only in the relationship between me and the place. That’s what empathy is – a relationship. And that empathy is why I was able to pick up the difference between a house and a home.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Physical and Moral Courage

Physical courage is in many ways a cheap, tawdry thing. It is as common as pennies. It can shine brightly in even the most primitive and brutal of savages. And millions of people have died meaninglessly because of it.

Cicero wrote of this kind of courage: "That kind of courage, which is conspicuous in danger and enterprise, if devoid of justice, is absolutely undeserving of the name of valor. It should rather be considered as a brutal fierceness outraging every principle of humanity."

The worst meat grinder of a battle with which I am familiar is Stalingrad during World War II. I don’t think it’s possible to imagine the carnage in which an estimated one million to two million people died. As the old saying so cynically tells us, the death of one man is a tragedy; the death of a million men is a statistic.

Were the soldiers brave on both the German and Russian sides? Certainly? Did any good come from such bravery? None. Such bravery was a detriment – and that word is an understatement – to both sides.

To what end did this bravery lead? Horrendous mass slaughter, followed by totalitarian rule over Russia and Eastern Europe for more than 50 years. And more soldiers died in that one battle than all of the U.S.’s wars combined.

In the War between the States, one quarter of the military-age men in the South were killed. The loss of officers – the most intelligent – was appalling. All of them were brave men – and to what end? The South lost, and still has not completely recovered, 150 years later.

There are some unpleasant truths about physical courage. Much of the time it’s used for vain causes. How many wars have been completely unnecessary? Nearly all of them. Maybe even all of them.

Another unpleasant truth about physical courage is that with it the opponent, the “enemy,” is made less than human, reduced to the status of a thing. Most of the time, they’re considered to be evil, to be insane, homicidal maniacs.

There is another, better, kind of courage – moral courage. This kind of courage allows the possessor to be empathic. Moral courage allows one to walk in another’s shoes, to see things from their point of view.

Unfortunately, the greater the physical courage, generally the less there is of moral courage. A person with moral courage can be physically brave, but how many people with great physical courage have the ability for moral courage? Not many, I’d wager.

Courage does not exist in and of itself. It is one of the Four Cardinal Virtues, and as such is connected to the other three – Justice, Temperance and Prudence. Courage must be based on justice. Indeed, the real purpose of courage is to remove obstacles to justice. And to know what justice is, you have to have prudence and temperance.

Prudence is defined as recta ratio agilbilium - right reason about things to be done. Those “things to be done” have to conform to reality. That “reality” I define as realizing everyone and everything are connected; that people are humans with wants and desires of their own, and that wholeness and health are better than unnecessary violence, than murder, than theft, than envy, hubris, gluttony, greed and lust.

Someone who is prudent understands both the good and bad laws that govern people and things, but chooses to live by the good laws. They understand the Four Cardinal Virtues (seven, actually, if you include faith, hope and charity) but also the Seven Deadly Sins.

Justice is giving to each person what is due to him and Temperance as that which is opposed to “the inclinations of nature when they are like a beast that is not ruled by reason.” And “reason” I define as understanding the connections that led to the understanding of laws that govern reality.

Physical courage has to be connected to moral courage. Physical courage by itself is nothing but a danger. Only when physical courage is connected to moral courage, and to justice, temperance and prudence, only then will it produce good things.

One of the most interesting things I’ve noticed, now that I look back upon it, is that the fairy tales I was told as a child, and the novels I read as a teen, had as exemplars of virtue, people who possessed both physical and moral courage. Physical courage in and of itself meant nothing. Much of the time those who had it could be led around by their noses.

Physical courage is an instinct, an animal thing. Dogs and other beasts have it; dogs will in fact die protecting their owners. Moral courage, on the other hand, is a human thing, and in fact is one of the things that make us human.

Three Laws of Human Nature

I’m not all that smart. I’m pretty bright, but no genius. I’ll never get a Ph.D. in anything (not that I want to). So, I try to operate on short pithy sayings.

One of them is “Silence is acquiescence.” If people don’t protest when accused of something, then they most probably did it. When O.J. Simpson was told his ex-wife had been murdered, he didn’t even ask which ex-wife. He wasn’t upset and didn’t protest at all.

Of course, everyone knows the reason why.

But then, on the other hand, there is the saying, “Me thinks thou doth protest too much.” How in the world can you have both “Silence is acquiescence” and “Me thinks thou doth protest too much” if they cover the same subject, say murder? Either you say nothing at all or else you protest too much?

Apparently so. Maybe not necessarily for murder, but for other things. I keep thinking of Evangelical preachers who are so obsessed with disapproval of other people’s sex lives and then get caught with boytoys or hookers. Or as one wag commented, “Meth and man ass.”

The one sleaze ball who sticks in my was a prosecuting attorney named George Peach, who when he was in St. Louis made a career out of jailing hookers (a misdemeanor – one year in prison) and putting their customers’ names and pictures in the newspaper.

Lo and behold! Turns out George had been using public funds to see hookers himself. For about ten years. He fell into a sting operation and was taped asking a hooker for a blowjob.

When someone goes out of their way – and I mean way, way out of their way – to protest something, they are fighting against it in themselves.

The third saying is, “It’s your fault! You made me do it!” The first defense many people engage in is to blame their problems on someone else. You ask anyone in prison for murder or brutal assault and almost all of them will claim their victim made them do it.

I’m sure there are more laws, but I have to wait until these three sink permanently into my brain.

The Four Cardinal Virtues and the Knowledge of Good and Bad

The Four Cardinal Virtues are Prudence, Justice, Courage, and Temperance. In order to understand what they mean, you have to have a thorough understanding of both good and bad.

Prudence is listed as the first and foremost of the virtues. It is defined as recta ratio agilbilium - right reason about things to be done. Prudence, then, is knowledge,

But how do you know if you are engaging in “right reason” and have the “right” knowledge?

“Reason” is defined as “making the necessary connections to discover the principles (laws) that govern reality.” Reason has to be used to not only understand the “good” laws, but also the “bad” laws, i.e. to understand the good and evil of human nature.

If you don’t understand the badness in human nature, then I believe it’s impossible to truly understand the goodness. Prudence, then, is making necessary connections to understand the laws that govern the strengths and weaknesses of humankind, and putting them into effect. It’s not just theoretical knowledge; it’s also practical knowledge.

The word “virtue” means “strength” or “power” and also comes from the word “man.” It means “the strengths or powers of Mankind.” The word “sin” comes from the archery word “hamartia” and means “missing the mark.”

To put it in more simplistic religious terms, Prudence allows us to understand the virtues and sins of Mankind. But how to tell the difference between a virtue and a sin? It clear humankind, right from the beginning, has always had problems telling right from wrong.

The difference is the difference between health and sickness, between wholeness and unwholeness. The words “healthy” and “whole” come from the same root word. That which is “good” is healthy and whole – everything is connected and working smoothly and easily, like the parts in a well-maintained car.

Disease can be split into two words – “dis-ease.” A lack of ease. A lack of wholeness, of health, of the parts not connected and working smoothly and properly. In fact, the word “diabolic” means to “split” or “split into two.” (Generally, a word that starts with “di” means, roughly speaking, “to make into two or more” – disease, divide and diabolic, for examples.).

Justice, another cardinal virtue, is defined as giving “to each person what is due to him, and we do this consistently, promptly and pleasurably.” To do justice properly, we again have to have a thorough knowledge of good of evil, most especially since a lot of justice is concerned with giving criminals their just due.

How do you tell what is just and unjust? Again, it has to do with wholeness and unwholeness. Criminals are those who make things unwhole – they steal, they murder, they batter. They take away people’s ease, their happiness.

Criminals are always motivated by one or more of the Seven Deadly Sins – hubris, envy, lust, gluttony, greed, ennui. You have to understand these weaknesses, this missing of the mark, to truly understand the strengths – the virtues.

If you don’t understand that murder and theft are bad things, then how can you understand that not to do them is a good thing? People who don’t understand that these are bad things are psychopaths – they have no conscience. And, not surprisingly, the word “conscience” comes from the words for “knowledge” and “awareness.”

The purpose of Courage is to “remove obstacles to justice.” Physical courage is a common thing moral courage far less common. Physical courage is an animal thing, even an instinct, and can be used for some very bad reasons. Moral courage is a human thing.

The true purpose of courage is to used in the service of making things whole. Unfortunately, physical courage is often not used for that end. Physical courage does not empathize with people; moral courage does. And that is a very important distinction.

Temperance allows us to “govern our appetites for pleasure.” Temperance “does not act against our natural human inclinations, but works with them. Temperance is opposed to the inclinations of nature when they are like a beast that is not ruled by reason.”

“Beast” is the important word here. It means our animal nature. That nature is not a bad thing when it is under control of “right reason,” i.e. the good principles or laws that govern human nature.

Let’s take lust, for example. I define lust – animal lust – as having no empathy for the other person, just using them for your ends. Mere sexual desire is not lust. True lust is having no concern for the other person. That’s one of the “bad laws” of human nature.

One of the good laws is putting that sexual desire together with love.
Wholeness, or health, involves empathy, of understanding others as human. With the Four Cardinal Virtues, we can strive to see this – to understand the laws of human nature than contribute to health, to happiness, to ease.

The opposite, of course, is that which shatters or splits or destroys – that which makes unwhole or unhealthy. It is the beast in man not under the law -- it lacks empathy, it breaks the connections, it lacks a conscience.

The more one understands good and evil – and the laws that govern them – then the more one can embody the good.