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Saturday, May 16, 2015


When I think about it, I realize the main enemy of democracy is still what can be termed UNEARNED ELITISM. EARNED ELITISM is a necessary component of democracy. Unearned elite status is democracy's enemy whether it comes from being a certain skin tone, belonging to a religion favored by the state, or having one's genitals inside or outside, not to mention where one puts those same organs.
It's not the same thing as being a member of an empowered majority; at least it needn't be. So take that, BDSers and all your Nazi elves!
However, if the system's been set up to favor, say, white Anglo-Saxon straight men like yours truly, then THAT is merely an extension of quasi-royal privilege to a whole population. Few of us who benefit by this realize it as yet, although most POCs could give us chapter and verse on it! You see, us pale men are NOT SUPPOSED to know how, or to what extent, we benefit from such a setup. Nor do most of us as yet really want to know, to tell the bitter truth, because we're afraid of what we think we'll have to give up.
But to tell the truth, the only thing we need to give up is our unearned assumption of superiority over everyone else. This will involve a lot of consciousness-raising. It should probably begin with a long, hard look at the (in?)justice system, including how the police operate. Especially noting how white men are treated with kid gloves while nearly everyone else gets a swing of the club and whatever current phrase says the same thing as "Down, croppies!" This will be hard work but will be well worth the efforts!
And while I'm on this, let everyone get this straight: being born with privilege does not make anyone a bad person per se; it's what you DO with it--including becoming conscious of it. And I hope I can remind the under-privileged that there can be times where one of us is actually saying something worth listening to. Still, on the whole, I'd advise my fellow pale males to do much more careful listening, without thought of what you want to say, and let others talk who have been more 'stifled' than you and perhaps encouraging them to speak up. Indeed, there's something a REAL aristocrat should do as part of his/her job, sez I!
Separation of religion and state is vital to keeping democracy healthy; not for nothing are nearly all anti-democratic forces seeking to merge religion and state (ISIS et al., Dominionists et al.) and, where a wall between them is in place, to tear it down.
Progressive taxation (and right now, HEAVILY progressive taxation) is also vital to democracy as it prevents the formation of huge private fortunes strong enough to 'put our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country." to quote Mr. Jefferson. To those who would claim property rights as more absolute than human ones, allow me to refer y'all to a letter dated December 25, 1783 to Robert Morris from Dr. Benjamin Franklin. Read what the good doctor had to say of property. Ditto Mr. Paine in his Dissertation on First Principles of Government.
We are each 'special' in our own way but none of us rule others because of anything approximating divine right and we deceive ourselves when we tell ourselves anything approximating that shopworn lie! And if more of us are to realize our own 'specialness'--including those of the ruling caste who are connected with any privilege ONLY because of pale skin, light eyes, etc.--these things must be done. along with preserving, nourishing and expanding the 'commons' on which all of us depend. Privatization must be stopped and reversed NOW!
Finally, sooner or later, ruling castes who don't continue to democratize set themselves up thereby for torches, pitchforks, mass gallows and guillotines. As Maratian as I can sound sometimes, I'd really rather avoid bloodshed if possible. So let's get with the program and kickstart a new wave of democratization for all of us.

Friday, May 8, 2015


Come now, let us reason together."
Through the prophet Isaiah, God invites us to join Him in doing this. That we also desperately need to do so with each other should go without saying, but with this world being what it is, it can't be said often enough! And one thing which worries me quite a bit about these days is how many of us basically REFUSE to 'listen to reason'. It may well prove that the best solution to deal with all such is to pit them against each other, place our bets and pass the popcorn!
On the other hand, I also know a good deal more of history and of theology than most other folks and that knowledge tells me that it is very likely that it has been the few among humans who have used reason, and taken its use seriously, over the millennia. Many such are probably counted among the 'greats' of both disciplines and of others. So, then, why should I worry?
Two causes for worry occur to me just now. First, we have been screwing up our environment on a never-before-seen scale and changing the very climate while we do. And there are still willful fools among us with their heads in the sand (or, more likely, up their own derrieres) who refuse to acknowledge it. Second, at no time in history was anyone in, say, Paris, likely to hear about a traffic accident or a criminal chase or whatever in Shanghai or Buenos Aires. The world is still shrinking in that way.
In The Closing of the Muslim Mind, Robert Reilly relates how the Muslim world committed intellectual suicide starting actually just about a millennium ago and finishing about eight hundred years ago. It took rather a while, as you can see. He ends the book as follows:
"As was seen in the blood-soaked history of the twentieth century, the "priority of the irrational"--even if embraced only by the radical few--can inexorably lead to limitless violence, because the primacy of the will, whether in God or man, knows no [natural] bounds. The recovery of reason, grounded in logos, is the only sentinel of sanity. This is imperative for the East as well as the West." I might add Euripides' noted line, "Whom the gods destroy they first make mad."
We who are reason's sentinels, whether we be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, agnostic, atheist or Spaghettists, need to support, strengthen and encourage one another. The European separation of reason from faith is not particularly helpful in this; neither is the encouragement of unreason and consequent blinding of faith as seems now to be common among 'fundies' of at least all the Abrahamian faiths. Faith and reason both need to be in partnership. Such a partnership will continue to be, as it has been, in a costly but fruitful and noble tension--and so it must and should remain, because it is so fruitful.
The choice is before us all, today and every day: the work of reasoning together and with God (and He will help, but we must ask first) or madness and consequent destruction. With His help, let's do all we can to push the first and thereby neutralize the second. Can I have an amen?
And remember: seventy years ago today, we saw the unconditional surrender of a regime that set itself against reason and rationality.