Aphorisms and Letters The Grand Experiment—What Went Wrong? A Layman’s Interpretation by Alipio Baldi - HTML preview
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• • •America is celebrating Martin Luther King Day. This national holiday reminds me of how far we have yet to travel before our society eventually fulfills his ―dream‖ of a color-blind society. Mr. King was not a perfect man; not unlike many of us, he was a flawed individual. His personal failings, however, in no manner diminished the essential nature of his vision. Unfortunately, his understanding of racial equality and all that it entails has been pre-empted by radical bigots and political opportunists seeking to promote racial animosity for their own political reasons, supported, in part, by the unwitting few who, however well-intentioned, have lent legitimacy to cynical designs superceding Mr. King‘s vision of a society impervious to color where each of us is measured on the basis of character and quality of substance. These individuals have made a mockery of the very principles he firmly embraced.
• • •…Let the dead bury their dead, whatever (our) perceived failings, having colored our impressions, devolving into self-mockery and despair occasioned by grudging acceptances/possibilities of what is (now) and will (become), mis-perceived at our own risk, piecing together the fragments of our shattered existence (while) restoring order and meaning to the underlying currents that define who we were, are and hope to become…
• • •An alarming number of activist or ―progressive‖ judges, depending on one‘s point of view, entrusted by the American People to correctly interpret and impartially execute (the) law(s) of our nation, are (otherwise) engaging in cultural warfare aimed at rocking the (traditional) political and social foundations established by our Founding Fathers by anointing themselves the Guardians of the ―Social Conscience.‖ Operating behind the protective shield of constitutional law(s), many are disingenuously distorting the Constitution‘s essential meaning (or intent) by injecting their own value judgment(s) into the Law(s) in the manner of penumbral interpretations that seek to fulfill the social and political requirements of their peculiar world view. This (haughty) breach of public confidence must inevitably undermine the average citizen‘s faith in a judicial system widely perceived to be governed by Men rather than Laws.
• • •Relying on quick fixes rather than focusing on root causes perpetuates the problem!
• • •A program coordinator at ABC News was fired recently for (unwisely, perhaps) proposing balanced points of view ―unseemly‖ to that news agency‘s left-leaning agenda. It took a great deal of courage swimming against the conventional tide by suggesting
―conservative‖ viewpoints contrary to the network‘s liberal orthodoxy. His sense of fair play may have cost him his job although he may (hopefully) derive some measure of satisfaction in knowing that his journalistic integrity wasn‘t compromised in any way.
• • •Ambition stokes the fires that (sparks) motivates behavior.
• • •The Welfare State has ‖succored‖ many an individual at the expense of that individual‘s Individuality by undermining that individual‘s self-awareness; a sense of his or her (inherent) dignity and self-worth, thereby (existentially) alienating that individual from him or her self by becoming less a free-thinking individual than an integral component of the common herd.
• • •A child‘s maturity level is determined in part by that child‘s (incipient) understanding of things that are factual or real (or possible) in contrast with ideas considered to be a product of wishful thinking or make-believe that are otherwise agreeable in themselves provided that the (rational) limits and conditions of the imagination are properly outlined. A creative imagination, one that isn‘t utterly fantastic, is a necessary component of a potentially active, inquisitive young mind. A child‘s imagination, however, should be grounded on a mature understanding of what is reasonably attainable, morally wholesome and possible or desirable, for that matter, rather than irrational, spiritually harmful, far-fetched or unbecoming while operating within the prescribed limits of a balanced mindset; that is to say, the manner that child will one day be expected to interact with other people; that is to say, by providing in measure what is expected in kind. The absence of sound reality checks, a condition common among dysfunctional households, oftentimes distorts a child‘s (emotional) sense of proportion; conditioned as many of them are by undisciplined, emotionally challenged environments that fail to provide spiritual sustenance and practical guidance to that child. Provided ample opportunities to self-destruct, that child soon acquires disagreeable habits that, reinforced by common attitudes, establishes the rocky foundations of a society populated by lingering, single-minded adolescents who, guided by their own (―exceptional‖) rules of conduct, acquire self-centered and perhaps anti-social points of view devolving into a collection of interchangeable parts reflecting the questionable character of that society‘s lowest forms that must negatively impact its social, cultural and political institutions including schools, churches, political organizations, judicial system, the news media, corporations, all! A free and open society should never impose arbitrary limits or draw uncertain conclusions as to how an individual should (otherwise) think or act however eccentric or unconventional such attitudes may appear; although that society, by example, should seek to broaden exemplary manners and customs essential to the maintenance of proper form if that society hopes to function effectively.
• • •How many ―sensitive‖ and ―caring‖ types are likely to disregard the salutary requirements of their fellows!
• • •The American Constitution is oftentimes referred to as an evolving or living document. I prefer ―living‖ document, myself. Its elasticity is grounded on the assumption that our society is a living organism subject to the vicissitudes of enlightened opinions, changing social and moral values and evolving standards of decency. America is not the America of the eighteenth century; neither are most Americans. What has not changed, however, are the underlying assumptions of Freedom and Natural Rights that every citizen is entitled and the protection of such inalienable rights by our government. What quickly comes to mind is Prohibition. How ill-conceived! Or the ―Unborn.‖ What law protects their Rights? Or laws conferring arbitrary advantages and special privileges to certain individuals or favored (―political‖) groups at the expense of others? I am not at all certain that this is what the founding fathers had in mind when this document was initially conceived. Its flexibility wisely allows our judicial system to adapt to political, social and economic arrangements vastly complex in proportion to the evolving requirements of a pluralistic society. It was not intended, however, to undermine, through judicial fiat or perverse legal interpretation, the freedoms that every American should properly enjoy without exception. It was not intended to divide and conquer in order to advance an individual (or group‘s) social and political agenda.
It was not intended to promote arbitrary designs by prejudicial jurists with political axes to grind. It is a (legal) document understood in its ―strictest‖ sense, subject to revisions and amendments by both legislative branches of our government whenever called upon or required or by Referenda and Plebiscites sanctioned by Popular Vote.
• • •I don‘t believe in the ―Age of Innocence‖, although I believe that recent generations have witnessed a rescission of innocence in proportion to mitigating sentiment in contrast with sentimentality.
• • •In its quixotic attempt to eliminate handguns, New York City has conceived a hare brained plan whereby any citizen possessing a firearm may redeem it, no questions asked, in exchange for gift certificates. This Pollyannish initiative appears to be catching on in other high crime urban centers as well. This political gimmick has little if anything to commend itself. Handguns are dangerous, of course. Although I agree that gun licenses should not be issued arbitrarily and only under extraordinary circumstances, isn‘t reasonable to assume that the vast majority of individuals willing to surrender their ―weapons‖, that are (otherwise) gathering dust inside clothes closets, dresser drawers and kitchen cupboards, or stuffed inside a sock, for that matter, represent a small minority of law-abiding citizens who, in any event, would be unlikely to use them, unless pressed, unlike hardened criminal elements in the community who wouldn‘t give a second thought to surrendering the tools of their trade unless they were compelled to do so? A fifty-dollar gift certificate from Macys is insufficient compensation for the criminally-minded. That‘s 20th century liberalism for you!
• • •A friend of mine recently stated that he envisions a day when America will return to a (de facto) separate but equal society. That would be unfortunate, if such an event were indeed possible, considering the hard fought efforts of individuals and groups spanning generations who strove to achieve a color-blind society contrary to the racial designs of bigots who, unfortunately, will always be among us. Neither would a movement as such, for a variety of reasons; secure a moral consensus among the American People who would properly consider such designs as morally repugnant and offensive to a society‘s standard of decency. His argument, however, appears to have some validity from the standpoint that our nation seems to be more group oriented than at any other time since the early 20th century. Ironically, this trend appears to be declining among Blacks and Whites, although a reemerging phenomenon appears to be gaining momentum among ―recently‖ arrived ethnic groups spanning second and third generations or perhaps it only seems that way. As our (collective) body of shared values continue to diminish under the dynamic influence of multiculturalism and where the evolution of self-contained communities, especially in our inner cities, continues mapping their (own) chartered course, such events must inevitably give rise to expanding pockets of diverse groups who, as a rule, feel more at ease in their (own) ethnic environments perceived to be culturally and socially sympathetic to their needs contrasted by ‖homogenous‖ groups who, increasingly threatened by ―foreign‖ values that provide little, if any meaning, seek refuge of their own.
• • •Tolerance for alternative lifestyles neither seeks to advance nor support a particular lifestyle but ―accepts‖, rather, an individual‘s right to engage in a lifestyle of his or her own choosing provided that the adopted lifestyle neither challenges nor antagonizes
―conventional‖ customs or manners; that is to say, that are otherwise considered ordinary or common or perceived hostile towards that society‘s (own) partial values.
• • •The absence of (ethical) standards must inevitably promote moral and spiritual confusion while ushering the decline of civilized manners whenever ―customary‖ standards of right and wrong, good and evil no longer provide substantive meaning or moral authority. Moral Relativism, I believe, promotes moral laxity. Whether as (casual) observers or active participants, each of us is equally to blame, more so the former for our indifference!
• • •The expression ―Feet of Clay‖ implies a transitory, material existence that is essentially weak or flawed or (otherwise) subject to decay; contrasted with spiritual existence that is eternal, everlasting and timeless. If one allows that worldly values are the off-springs of worldly customs, (alone); that is to say, restricted to non-spiritual matters, and that eternal values are necessarily eternal in meaning; neither limited by space nor time, which would otherwise render them meaningless and incomprehensive in form; universal or eternal Values must necessarily embrace all existence, including the ―Material‖ that (always) was, is and will become, without exception; the expression or starting point of God‘s own Creation, in His own Image consonant with His own laws or (Eternal Values), whose impressions have been (indelibly) stamped on all things potentially eternal. By this argument alone, worldly and eternal cannot be separated otherwise such equivocations that must inevitably follow would negate the eternal order of things that transcends, although embracing, the worldly order of things each in conjunction with Eternal Designs.
• • •I was deeply moved the other evening while watching President Reagan‘s birthday celebration hosted by Republican Party notables.
Addressing his well wishers, his boyish countenance revealing signs of age however retaining its youthful glimmer, his delivery, once flawless, however a tad slower and unsteady, I was suddenly overcome by fits of tears. Once again it was 1981 but of course it really wasn‘t 1981 and therein lay the rub, that this great and gentle man, who was/is a genuine American Hero, a Man for all Seasons and 22
one of our nation‘s greatest presidents, would not be among us much longer.
• • •Under the provisions of a proposed law sponsored by our co-presidents designed to promote smoke-free environments, tobacco consumption will soon be restricted or prohibited altogether in public areas traditionally frequented by smokers including restaurants, barrooms, casinos, racetracks and pool halls among other social venues. To ensure proper compliance, undercover ―health agents‖ will covertly insinuate themselves in these ―dens of iniquity‖ and report any violations to the federal agency(s) charged with its enforcement. Preliminary warnings will be issued to first time offenders followed by fines, stiffer penalties and suspension of licenses.
• • •Sincerity, not Intention, is the Hallmark of Forgiveness.
• • •The greatest sinners are the Corrupters of Virtue.
• • •Central Europe, because of its strategic (military) importance, will invariably find itself caught in the middle of a geopolitical tug-of-war between East and West.
• • •Everything being equal, democratic forms seldom match up favorably against autocratic designs unrestricted by the codes of civilized conduct. This is especially true as it relates to our war against (cunning) terrorists adept at using our nation‘s (own) rule of law to their (own) strategic advantage(s).
• • •Although American Foreign Policy should never enthusiastically embrace or commit its intellectual and material resources to nations of questionable (moral) character, geopolitical realities dictate that it remain flexible whenever its national interests are at stake.
• • •Provided that the acquisition of (new) knowledge is properly assimilated and that individuals are mindful of what history has taught them, a society should acquire certain advantages over preceding generations. (We ―stand on the shoulders of giants‖)
• • •The time and place of our passing is written in The Book of Life. (Aunt Alice)
• • •Assumptions extending beyond reasonable limits rise to the level of the incredibly absurd!
• • •The biblical allegory of the Beast and the Dragon as written in the Book of Revelation foreshadowed, perhaps, the emergence of Science and Technology and society‘s insatiable attachment to Material Things (False Prophets). It seems that our society‘s consummate pursuit of Material Things proportionate to its increasing indifference to Spiritual Things has sterilized our souls in a manner that has left many of us intellectually and morally barren and susceptible to whimsical notions of corporeal designs.
• • •A modernist version of wealth creation has superseded the (industrialized) ―smokestack‖ economy ushered by the Industrial Revolution over a century ago. Softer skills in the field of information, commercial and industrial technology, computer and software designs, among others, are gradually replacing the diminishing demands for unskilled labor (especially) among manufacturing and factory workers whose positions are facing daunting challenges from computer-based technologies. The challenges facing our schools will prove to be enormous in the coming years. The American workforce will need to become properly schooled and trained in order to meet the specialized requirements of an increasingly high-tech global market environment or otherwise run the risk of having their jobs outsourced. To the swift of mind indeed go the spoils!
• • •Excessive wealth accumulation, I believe, is a subconscious reaction to our fear of death inasmuch as we attempt to hold it in check by focusing our attention on material pursuits rather than the other way around.
• • •That Economics will never achieve the status of an exact science is understood by the problematical parameters of arbitrary designs; fragile models subject to prejudicial or variable assumptions. They offer at best, an impressionistic view of economic reality.
• • •23
While recently visiting the Smithsonian with a friend, (Patrick Kelly) I could not help noticing how underrepresented the Greek and Roman exhibits were in relation to Northern African and Central American exhibits on display. In fact, the latter were (the) more prominent. Although Western Civilization has not yet assumed a subordinate role vis-à-vis the politically correct cultures of antiquity, i.e. Civilizations of ―Color‖, the pattern(s) unfolding are unmistakable. The inevitable marginalization of Greco/Roman‘s immeasurable contribution(s) to Western Civilization is well under way.
• • •If the supposed importance of heated arguments were properly measured (beforehand) in proportion to their presumptive standing, there would (arguably) be fewer arguments.
• • •The obsessive fascination with Socialism by Western European nations never ceases to amaze me. Its precedential shortcomings should be apparent by now after prolonged experience with failed (economic) policies. Even fledgling Third World countries, when given the opportunity, are superceding its flawed assumptions with more reasonable designs favorable to free and open markets. I can‘t help wondering whether free enterprise isn‘t better suited for the demands of energetically robust societies rather than thoroughly exhausted ones content on living off their remaining capital; expending what little energy is left on meeting the custodial requirements of its aging populations rather than the urgent requirements of its younger citizens.
• • •The opponents of ―Wealth‖ oftentimes ignore its humbler origins by rejecting off-hand the many hardships that many financially successful individuals had to endure—hard work, taking calculated risks and self-sacrifice in order to acquire their fortune(s). That many financially successful individuals should decide to pass along the fruits of their labors to their families and loved ones instead of having them arbitrarily redistributed to other individuals, should be a prerogative of acquired wealth; a privilege enjoyed by those who have properly earned it and should enjoy the right of disposing it as they think fit. I am not speaking of income taxes, which every citizen is expected to pay his or her ―fair‖ share, however the (morally) insidious Estate or ―Death‖ tax, that truly constitutes a miscarriage of justice!
• • •Muckraking does not seek to expose political corruption for the benefit of an (enlightened) society but seeks perverse pleasure, rather, in exposing the moral and ethical failings of flawed individuals.
• • •The decline of great civilizations is not entirely owing to economic reasons. It is a gradual process precipitated by a variety of factors including economic disruptions, natural disasters, over-population, famine and disease. It is often times, however, the result of self-destructive tendencies common to decaying cultures that have grown (morally) listless and (intellectually) indifferent to their (historic) traditions because of their (material) opulence, perhaps.
• • •What is it about an affable scoundrel that makes us wink at improprieties or worse, legal transgressions? I‘m referring, of course, to our own President William Jefferson Clinton who, along with the First Lady, have offered us Whitewater, Madison Savings and Loan, Rose Law Firm, Cattle Options, Travelgate, Filegate, Loral Communications, Buddhist Temple Fundraisers, (the) Lincoln Bedroom, (the) mysterious ―suicide‖ of Vincent Foster, Sex Scandals and Arkansas Mafia for our consideration. Suspicious ‖suicides‖, in particular, do not seem to make much of an impression on liberal journalists eager to protect one of their own by glossing over the legal and ethical failings of their favorite sons and daughters (which is putting it mildly) and reporting them on page 23 of the Washington Post or the New York Times; that would otherwise have discredited a Republican Administration and brought it down to its knees. That many of us can look at ourselves in the mirror each and every day and see a reflection of Mr. Clinton, is most troubling of all. Perhaps that explains why the Public has been willing to provide him with a free pass!
• • •We should all stand on guard against falling prey to unwarranted suspicions as they oftentimes relate to other people who may otherwise think or behave differently than we do. On the other hand, we should also be wary of individuals of questionable character.
In other words, we are ultimately defined by our (own) actions and the way we behave towards other people. The liberal exchange of ideas does not necessarily imply their acceptance although we should all properly respect (creditable) thoughts and opinions in whatever manner they may differ from our own private viewpoints.
• • •Does anyone remember when (Sport) was only a game?
• • •Nothing quite captures Americana as vividly as a Frank Capra film.
• • •24
Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton, in a recent tax audit, was able to recall 14 years after the fact, $1 dollar (each) deduction for ―worn out‖
panties she generously donated to the poor (ugh!), however drew a blank when called upon to provide details on a $1,000 dollar investment in futures that grossed $100,000!
• • •―Irresistible Impulse,‖ or the devil made me do it, has become the latest excuse employed by defense attorneys superseding, in part, the more traditional Insanity Plea.
• • •I was watching a heavyweight championship fight the other night at a friend‘s (Robert Favata) home. I forget which (boxing) federation was sanctioning the bout; there are so many nowadays that it‘s hard keeping track. Boxing, I feel, has lost much of its mystique in recent years. The holder of the heavyweight championship belt was once considered hot stuff. The popularity of the modern fighter, however, is problematical. Some fighters, no doubt, still capture our imaginations. Many, however, have become the products of media hype. The fight game was once considered a poor man‘s sport, not a sport tailored for millionaires and prima donnas fighting once or twice a year for obscene paychecks exceeding what many of their predecessors earned over a lifetime.
Perhaps that was part of the ―glamour‖ that attracted the working classes who were able to ―connect‖, in some manner, with hungry boxers fighting for nominal purses; average Joes that they could otherwise relate to.
• • •Richard Milhous Nixon, thirty-seventh President of the United States, passed away over the weekend. A Conservative‘s Liberal and a Liberal‘s Conservative, Mr. Nixon was an enigmatic man of prodigious intellect and talent. He was a man who hoped to be loved by all but was loved by few…..including many of his political ―supporters‖. He resigned from the Office of the Presidency once impeachment proceedings appeared imminent. His most belligerent detractors on the Left have never quite forgotten his role in the Watergate cover-up although if the truth were known, ―Alger Hess‖ was the underlying catalyst behind their unwavering contempt for the man. This staunch anticommunist was vilified by communist sympathizers, fellow travelers, and useful idiots not to mention a number of Conservatives who, as his party‘s Elder Statesman, (properly) rejected his overtures to (Communist) China. His unfortunate flirtation with Keynesian Economic Policies (Wage and Price Controls) and prolonging the ―Great Society‖ by introducing fresh initiatives, threw a monkey wrench into the economy but enough of that! Seeking (public) forgiveness, if not self-forgiveness, this tormented soul sought redemption in seclusion and productive writing. His political ambitions softened by age, Nixon‘s geopolitical literary output subsequently earned him international acclaim and the grudging respect from his political enemies, many of whom he oftentimes consulted with on Foreign Affairs in his later years. Should history one day shed its political bias and evaluate Nixon‘s career objectively, he will be remembered as one of the twentieth century‘s most influential Statesmen but certainly not one of its more memorable Presidents.
• • •America‘s relative decline as the world‘s eminent global leader is not unprecedented when understood by the parallel decline of many (Great) Nations. Times may change. Events influencing the winds of change, however, remain remarkably constant. A condition common to many Great Nations in decline is complacency; a weakening of (national) resolve that eventually causes many (erstwhile) Great Nations to gradually abandon their moral bearing. Having grown too comfortable, perhaps, many oftentimes acquire a taste for easy living, maintaining the status quo and aversion for confrontations; choosing to appease or soften criticisms both foreign and domestic, rather than standing on its traditional principles. In other words, that Great Nation subconsciously surrenders its role as World Leader because it has lost the Will to Lead. Its national designs become increasingly unclear, its moral purpose, uncertain. The Rabble grows restless, their material demands, insatiable. Rooted in pleasure, Human Nature‘s inordinate capacity for consumption, having gone unchecked, losses all sense of moderation and proportion. Beleaguered by the overwhelming demands of its citizens, government must either pay proper tribute or risk shaking an already tremulous foundation. The loyalty of the Rabble must be preserved at whatever cost lest that nation‘s political ―leaders‖ fall out of favor. A depleted treasury must find creative ways of raising revenue however dry the well in order to pacify the demands of its citizens; engendering more spending promoting a vicious cycle of tax and spending policies sapping the energies and moral vitality of its productive citizens who grow increasingly cynical while the Rabble grows more demanding and the government more obliging.
• • •Vanity: Moral Superiority and Self-Righteousness.
Appetite: Acquisition of Material Things.
Flattery: Nourishment for the Ego.
Each for their own sake…
• • •Adornments are enhancements to dress requirements serving no functional purpose, other than satisfying Vanity.
• • •25
My wife (Rose) and I had dinner the other evening at the Westchester Premier Theatre which featured a play, Sayonara, adapted from a novel written by James Michener. The story (in a nutshell) is about inter-racial marriages between American servicemen and their Japanese girlfriends and the conventional (racial) barriers that stood in their way. Alas, one couple commits double suicide because neither could any longer bear the thought of living apart from the other. This is too much! I must be spiritually and morally obtuse because these hackneyed storylines seldom seem to ―move‖ me.
• • •Retroactive taxes are unfair to taxpayers, not to mention unethical and in my opinion, unconstitutional. Taxpayers should not be blind-sided after the fact; that is to say, forced to pay taxes on what basically amounts to paying taxes on taxed income that has already been spent or planned on being spent, perhaps, but provided ample opportunity to properly assess (beforehand) the impact prospective tax increases, or tax reductions, for that matter, will have on their household budgets. Faced with the prospect of paying (marginally) higher taxes, taxpayers may (otherwise) decide to manage their finances accordingly by (either) spending less or postponing spending on all non-essential items. Designed to provide a safety net for fiscal mismanagement, this egregious measure undermines financial planning while deflating tax payer morale.
• • •There exist extraordinary quantitative standards or measures that exceed the potential capacity of average minds to absorb. Character, on the other hand, is a qualitative or subjective standard incapable of being measured although it is correctly understood that some people possess more Character than others. Neither is what many of us commonly refer to as ―Right Reason‖ correctly understood in whatever manner we (may) otherwise perceive some individuals as arguably more reasonable than others. Neither are polite manners nor social refinement nor moral righteousness (Egads!) readily perceptible to individuals possessing limited insight into the essential Nature of Things. People, I believe, unless endowed with uncommon perception; that is to say, inherently sensitive to the ideas, emotions or circumstances of ―like‖ individuals, should be properly conditioned by example.
• • •An old fool is simply a young fool who has grown older but not wiser.
• • •Clever minded individuals are oftentimes captivated by the perception of their (own) inestimable ―Wisdom‖.
• • •I agree with Albert Camus that an individual can believe in God and still be an Existentialist and that both belief systems are not necessarily irreconcilable. If ultimate reality is not consciousness but existence, rather, how could anyone be reasonably certain of his or her own existence if not for the capacity to reason and to think critically about oneself? ―I am consciously aware of myself therefore I am certain of my existence‖. I am aware of the existence of other people who have a similar likeness to me that confirms my own existence‖ (Freely adapted from Rene Descartes) The troubling assumption with most (nihilistic) existential thinkers is the idea that the universe is fundamentally evil; without purpose or meaning and that alienated Man must overcome the evil dynamics of Nature through his or her own (determined) efforts or by exercising Free Will that ironically lends force to conscious expression. This is God‘s most precious gift to Humankind.
• • •President Clinton has vowed to end Welfare ―as we know it.‖ Sounds like doublespeak to me!
• • •Ignorance is a self-inflicting wound. In a free and open society with increased educational opportunities at every conceivable level, many of us are woefully misinformed through our own volition, by the choices we make or don‘t make!
• • •The signposts are clear. There are no detours on the Road to Success.
• • •Twentieth Century Science and Technology have ushered unprecedented changes in our way of life in ways unimaginable to our grandparents, with every incremental unit of change (seemingly) exceeding our emotional and for some, intellectual capacity to adapt.
It‘s what Alvin Toffler referred to as ―Future Shock.‖ To use a simple analogy, in the ―old days‖, before the emergence of superhighways, families planning their vacations were oftentimes required to take the ―scenic‖ route; traveling through non- descript towns, subject to traffic jams, ubiquitous traffic lights and nervous breakdowns that sought a temporary reprieve at some roadside diner where the family would stop to eat and address their biological requirements before reaching their final destination. In some ways, this mode of travel was an adventure in itself. The traveler got to see the country and observe some of its interesting features. (It has often been said that half the fun of traveling is getting there.) The roadside diners and hotdog stands or ice cream ―parlors‖ where weary travelers could stop and unwind and shake off some of the road dust, also provided opportunities to do some ―sightseeing‖, to take in the lay of the land or ―connect‖ with the people or simply walk around town and clear their heads. This may seem inconvenient by present standards. Travelers, however, simply adapted and managed their time accordingly. In today‘s age, where so much ground 26
is covered so quickly, the traveler no longer seems engaged with traveling. (Driving to the airport, waiting on line, checking luggage and walking through metal detractors is a (by-product) of modern travel however not traveling) American Roads have lost their quintessential charm. They can no longer be properly referred to as ―roads‖. Traveling nowadays has little to commend itself other than exit signs and billboards directing the traveler to uniform convenience stores, gas stations, restaurants and motels corporately owned, of course. In this manner, our way of life has rapidly evolved into a kind of superhighway where the end game is getting there as quickly as possible without taking any time to stop and smell the coffee. Although it becomes us to accept the times in which we live, perhaps we should give occasional pause to nostalgic notions that, in some manner, made us appear more Human.
• • •Structure and Control are not synonymous. The former provides operating guidelines to orderly processes while the latter assigns some level of authority to those processes. Modern Liberalism has confused the (suggestive) relationship that otherwise separates the two.
• • •Political Activism has taken it to the laboratories in its ongoing efforts to formalize its political agendas by manipulating, misrepresenting and obfuscating scientific data in order to lend credibility to false premises and passing such (plausible) assumptions for facts.
• • •Having circumvented formal diplomatic channels, President Clinton took it upon himself to express, on behalf of the ―American People‖, his heartfelt condolences over the recent passing of North Korean Dictator, Kim IL Sung, a Communist thug and Human Rights violator who unmercifully starved 600,000 of his own people and led his nation against U.N. armed forces that resulted in the death of 50,000 American soldiers who died for the cause of Freedom nearly a half century ago. This end-around round the State Department should come as no surprise considering the president‘s track record as a draft dodger and antiwar protester whose sympathies continue to lie with our nation‘s ideological opponents.
• • •Is it a question of mistaken identity that the nineteenth-century Populist has suddenly transformed himself into a twentieth-century Conservative? Not in every case, perhaps, although I am firmly convinced however, that provided a ―proper‖ education, William Jennings Bryan would have been a reliable advocate of socially conservative principles were he living today.
• • •Life seldom provides second chances, only second guesses!
• • •Art Stupefaction conceals an inherent baseness common to affected styles and manners that is often lost on the casual observer, captivated as many of them are by erratic forms for their own sake without giving considered thought to their (social) implications; radical ―art‖ forms whose intended meaning, if any, are often unclear, its premises anti-social, tasteless, adolescent, absurd, valueless and immoral. The shortcomings inherent in Modern Art (merely) serve to debase the dignity of our society, its customs and traditions, while degrading (higher) culture in general.
• • •Multiculturalism is the antithesis of the American ―melting pot‖ that promoted a common (homogenous) culture by assimilating peoples from different ethnic backgrounds and religions by tossing them into the pot, if you will. What was it that Lincoln said, or was it Christ, about a ―House Divided‖?
• • •A goal that is considered improbable should never discourage the would-be achiever from trying to achieve that goal provided that that goal is worthy of achievement; like trying to lead the good life outlined in Christ‘s teachings or living the Socratic or Introspective life. That either of these commendable goals is achievable is problematical. That they should warrant the efforts of serious-minded individuals is sufficient reason in itself to pursue them whether they are achievable or not.
• • •Politicians have become increasingly monolithic in their approach to politicking, focusing more on groups rather than individuals. It‘s easier and much more efficient harvesting votes with sweeping gestures and deceptive promises rather than stumping for votes the old-fashioned way by kissing babies and all that other good stuff. The Democratic Party, in particular, has been traditionally adept at targeting interest groups ripe for the picking. In the old days it was Immigrants, Catholics, Labor and Farming, among other groups that were routinely pandered to. In recent times, however, the politics of victimization has taken center stage. After all, who hasn‘t an ax to grind nowadays? By having succeeded in its efforts at marginalizing the individual, group grievances and special interests have provided the Democratic Party an opportunity of gathering fish with a mesh net rather than reeling them in with bait and tackle.
• • •27
Millionaire baseball players have set a tentative strike date of August 12th. The New York Yankees hosted a pregame ceremony at the stadium honoring Phil Rizzuto‘s recent induction into the Hall of Fame. Were it not for this very special occasion, (The ―Scooter‖ was always a fan favorite), I would have passed up the ballgame. The pending strike, the eighth over the last twenty-two years, has soured my enthusiasm for a sport I have loved with a passion ever since I was a child. Nevertheless, how much longer must the average fan see their season(s) high jacked by self-centered, lingering adolescents; many of whom don‘t appreciate the value of a hard earned dollar? I remember when it was only a game. Now it‘s a business!
• • •While many roads (arguably) lead to heaven, I believe that we would all be better served remaining on the ―trusted path‖ rather than experimenting with detours which may lead us to ―Heaven‖ knows where.
• • •A society has an ―inherent‖ attachment to its political institutions that is not inborn, however. Such fidelity, much like a child‘s attachment to a parent, must be earned or otherwise both lose ―parental‖ confidence.
• • •National Solidarity is measured in part by a nation‘s fidelity to its political and social institutions however symbolic; otherwise, the social fabric will begin to unravel.
• • •Wholesome disagreements will inevitably arise between individuals who are intellectually honest, seekers of Truth.
• • •―Might makes Right‖ when supporting ―worthy causes.‖
• • •A young woman in our office, a college graduate no less, mistakenly referred a domestic phone call from one of our Dealer‘s in ―New Mexico‖ to our Export Division!
• • •The decline of any great nation is hastened by intellectual and moral laxity and indifference to that nation‘s historical achievements; that is to say, that nation forgot the lessons that made it great.
• • •The American Hero, I believe, has become an Endangered Species.
• • •Suffering seeks consolation in Hope.
• • •My perfect attendance record at the office has extended into its seventh (consecutive) year; a testimony to my physical endurance, company loyalty and stupidity! Old habits, however, are hard to break!
• • •Vanity (Ecclesiastes) and Absurdity (Existentialism) are birds of a feather in the manner Humankind‘s intellectual pursuits, after all is said and done, are deemed pointless and futile!
• • •Political Activism inside the Laboratory will one day sour society‘s implicit faith in Science. (Did I mention this elsewhere?)
• • •The variable or uncertain characterization of descriptive terms or labels used to describe or limit some generic quality or feature invalidates the underlying assumptions of its composite nature when, for example, a label is assigned to someone considered to be an
―economic‖ or ―social‖ conservative. Such modifiers do not imply an inclusive arrangement but some common characteristic among other (synthesized) articles; each one exerting its own (interacting) influence on the other in a more broadly defined manner that, having inserted adjunctive qualifiers, will inevitably misrepresent its essential character (thereby) providing an altogether different meaning.
• • •Reducing academic standards provides a free pass to underachieving students while undermining the (potential) progress of talented students (otherwise) capable of taking ―it‖ to a higher level. In other words, higher performance standards in conjunction with broad-based curricular formats initiated by under performing schools is the only sure fire way of ensuring that each student achieves his or 28
her fullest potential in proportion to their natural capacity.
• • •Human Nature… Multidimensional…Material however Spiritual…unrestricted by Fixed Limits…
• • •Birthdays, once we reach a certain age, aren‘t necessarily a cause for celebration but a troubling reminder, however, of our mortality; A wake up call, if you will!
• • •Laws are not self contained; that is to say, bounded by their own authority or judgment. Laws are dependent on a society‘s willingness to support them otherwise such laws are perceived inconsequential.
• • •Apprehension hastens Anxiety.
• • •A diminishing penis is woman‘s final revenge!
• • •Society…conceptually uncertain…morally vague….variable components…falling short…general opinion…fine-tuning wherever required without surrendering itself to massive upheavals or turning the entire structure upside its head…private initiatives and remarkable achievements…and inscrutable designs, incomprehensible, difficult to digest….behavior, reprehensible and mean…holding the collective liable for the transgressions of the few…individuals considered abstractly…society at fault!
• • •Elitist obsession with leveling sentiments provides an amusing contrast with (the) elegant bourgeois lifestyles many eagerly embrace (joie de vivre) yet rhetorically denounce. Ah, wretched creatures whose internal designs allow them to ―enjoy‖ in practice what they routinely condemn on principle!
• • •Modern Man has become no less the servant (rather) than the master of his (technological) designs.
• • •Most software enhancement packages require human intervention. Nevertheless, a disturbing number of programs have demonstrated an uncanny capacity, on some level, to ―think‖ for themselves.
• • •Technology offers certain ―evolutionary‖ advantages over Human Designs that appears to be striking a diminishing chord, however.
• • •A well-organized society grounded on and supported by fidelity to its traditional customs and manners once superseded by falsely conceived revisionist assumptions promotes an impressionist view of that society.
• • •Simplicity requires Effort.
• • •Anti-Heroes have always fascinated our imaginations symbolizing, as many of them do, wayward lifestyles and manners in contrast with conventional customs (seemingly) common and lacking spontaneity and originality.
• • •Intelligence is inherited; Knowledge, on the other hand, is acquired.
• • •Many of us have earned our conventional stripes from the school of ―hard knocks‖, (an idiomatic expression that implies an
―education‖ received from life‘s (painful) experiences), rather than formal classroom instruction that oftentimes conceals (life‘s) harsher elements.
• • •Trojan Horses bearing Ecclesiastical Heretics have been quietly infiltrating our religious institutions and subverting traditional church 29
doctrines by advancing plausible interpretations contrary to biblical teachings and superseding them with spiritually abstract new-age assumptions bordering on Pantheism.
• • •The decisions that we often make provoke uncertain feelings and emotions in other people that a sensible individual should be aware of. Forethought cautions that such decisions may otherwise promote uneasiness and anxiety; that is to say, that they should be engaging without unnecessarily augmenting their concerns.
• • •That broader capacities disseminate collective achievement to a greater or lesser extent is a grave concern to Social Engineers.
• • •The jury selection process has become (the) key underlying component in winning high-profile cases whose outcomes are oftentimes predetermined before opening statements are presented to the jury. Inherent in the selection process is a disturbing tendency common among most attorneys of ―nullifying‖ clear-minded, informed individuals in favor of unsophisticated, impressionable types who may otherwise render a ―favorable‖ verdict predicated upon individual biases and pedestrian prejudices likely to promote the arguments of prosecutors and defense attorneys alike. Informed decisions based on evidence and points of law clearly and properly defined, are gradually giving way to preliminary jousting matches between opposing counsels seeking a propitious ―mix‖ that will ‖carry the day‖.
• • •Yesterday‘s (November 8th) historical off-year elections resulted in the Republican Party seizing bilateral control of the House of Representatives and Senate for the first time since 1954. In addition, Republican candidates won a majority of gubernatorial races.
This overwhelming mandate from the American People sent a clear signal that many were dissatisfied with the Clinton Administration. This unexpected outcome will provide an excellent opportunity for the Republican Party to ―walk the talk‖ after decades of wandering in the (political) ―wilderness‖. How effectively Republicans will govern remains to be seen, however. Old habits are hard to break, especially for a majority party possessing a minority mindset. I expect that once in power, however, the modus operandi will be consolidating power that may (ironically) impede the party‘s ability or willingness, for that matter, to legislate meaningful reforms. We can only hope that it won‘t be business as usual. Mr. Gingrich seems like a breath of fresh air. We will have to wait and see. I‘m keeping my fingers crossed that Republicans and Conservatives, alike, will keep their campaign promises as outlined in their ―Contract with America‖, limiting the size and scope of government. I remain skeptical, however, of a Washington Mindset that seems to operate within its own guidelines whatever political party is in power; or so history informs me inasmuch as Republicans haven‘t been in power during my lifetime, not at the national level, at least. On the other hand, there may be a strong incentive among Republicans to change the political climate in Washington that will justify the people‘s confidence. Time alone will tell.
• • •Moderate, as the word applies in the political sector, is a term that characterizes, in some uncertain manner, positions lying somewhere in the center of political extremes. Such labels may assume an entirely different meaning depending on one‘s point of view, however.
Therefore, A Conservative is likely to consider a Moderate Democrat a (Conservative) Democrat and a Moderate Republican a (Liberal) Republican.
• • •Provisions inserted in the Constitution recognizing the separation of Church and State were introduced as precautionary measures safeguarding the (potential) establishment of State Religion. They were not intended to advance a godless society, however. The framers understood all too well the underlying influence of a Higher Moral Authority on the Character of a Nation!
• • •Performance should properly fulfill its stated goals and objectives or otherwise final results will necessarily be called into question.
• • •Socialism (without the brutal trappings) shares a number of characteristics common to Autocratic Rule including an inherent contempt for mainstream conventions. The former employs the legal system and democratic processes to achieve its stated objectives; the superseding of traditional customs and norms with ―universal‖ standards, whereas the latter disregards such pretenses of limited authority altogether in its efforts to reduce a society to its basic components. Each seeks in their own way to marginalize the individual through inductive rationalization. In either case, Human Dignity is (ultimately) compromised; considered an impediment to practical designs thought to promote either an Ideal or Orderly society, or whatever other intent.
• • •Character oftentimes requires playing the hand that has been dealt to us.
• • •I believe that efforts by extreme, anti-religious groups seeking to eliminate religious symbols from public places is a cynical attempt 30
by Atheists and Elites to advance a Secularist Agenda, if not to promote a godless society. Such designs may one day trigger sizeable defections of (Democratic) Party Moderates, especially members of the African American and Hispanic Communities who, despite party loyalties, remain staunchly conservative on a number of social issues, especially religion. Specious arguments thought to convey the separation of Church and State on their own merits appear to be carrying the day, at least for the time being. I suspect, however, that such arguments will one day lose their appeal and be seen for what they really are: a calculated attempt at installing Atheism on the Secular Throne!
• • •Historical Revisionism is rooted in a society‘s perceptions of its historical traditions; changing the ways a society looks at its past by rejecting or ignoring its essential (historical) features or underlying assumptions by misrepresenting and manipulating (historical) evidence in order to promote a social or political agenda in keeping with modern ―requirements‖. Most Revisionists are motivated by an inordinate aversion to customary practices bordering on madness. The result has been an undermining of conventional customs and norms, including ―inappropriate‖ language, for that matter, whose traditional authenticity is under fire by social activists who are trying to undermine or reinterpret the customary meaning of words in order to accommodate Politically Correct conventions.
• • •Vision requires a bridging of abstract ideas and practical applications.
• • •Shame is a conscious awareness or (the) private atonement of Guilt for some willful wrong-doing; that is to say, an individual ―feels‖
ashamed‖ after having affirmed his or her Guilt. In other words, Shame is a form of self-reproach that seeks redemption in a broader sense by the profession of Guilt. Shame is predisposed to proper notions of right and wrong whereas the shameless are untroubled by the dictates of Conscience.
• • •That certain ethnic or racial groups have historically outperformed others in a variety of different fields including sports, medicine, arts and sciences, literature or education in general, should not astonish critics skeptical of the underlying differences owing to cultural and (natural) agents that predispose achievement. Such distinctions, until quite recently, where common among certain cultures (or groups) who, for centuries, acquired cultural and intellectual sustenance from homogenous gene pools. Inter racial and ethnic marriages in recent years, however, have gradually erased such distinctions or genetic dispositions and environmental influences, by blending hereditary characteristics and socio/cultural factors that may otherwise enhance or (diminish) performance.
• • •Addendum to the above: On the other hand, were a heterogeneous society composed of a number of distinct groups able to achieve a
―perfect‖ genetic/cultural balance, the result(s) would nevertheless gravitate toward some center norm thereby occasioning a hybrid culture consisting of fewer dullards and arguably fewer exceptionally talented individuals, as well. That society must arguably
―evolve‖ into something quite ordinary.
• • •Wealth does not advance Self-Esteem (per se) but enhances, rather, Self-Esteem in the manner (that) Wealth was acquired.
• • •That poverty may diminish Character is questionable as well as counter arguments that material abundance is likely to enhance it.
• • •A nation‘s indifference to military preparedness and its uncritical assumptions regarding the inestimable intentions of hostile nations is consistent with the erstwhile requirements of a purposeful nation that has lost the Will to Lead by example.
• • •There‘s ―nothing wrong with the picture‖ that can‘t be corrected by the person who done hung it!
• • •America‘s inner cities have unfortunately devolved into gladiatorial training grounds where young Spartans routinely hone their predacious martial skills in order to assault law-abiding citizens.
• • •Today our nation is commemorating Martin Luther King. While I do not object to giving Dr. King his proper due, I find it troubling that two of our nation‘s most illustrious presidents, Washington and Lincoln, are no longer honored in their own right but must share their illustrious achievements with such notables as Franklin Pierce and Warren G. Harding on a day which is now referred to as Presidents‘ Day. Even more troubling are holiday advertisements portraying these two great men as pictorial caricatures.
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Christopher Columbus is the latest inductee among an ―illustrious‖ circle of Western Villains. This ―butcher‖ of Indians and conveyor of foreign diseases!
• • •I am still trying to figure out what is meant by a Conservative with a ―Conscience‖ or what is now commonly referred to as a
―Compassionate Conservative‖. It sounds rather patronizing and condescending, if you ask me. How about a ―Sober-Minded Democrat? Now there‘s a double entendre that works well enough for me!
• • •School Prayer intending neither injury nor harm but goodwill, rather, has provoked such violent passions and railings among cultural elites and atheists alike that this seemingly ―innocuous‖ practice before class must give thoughtful pause to assumptions arising from moderate quarters affirming (putative) Liberal Tolerance.
• • •Employees are commonly referred to as Business Units; a nifty euphemism commonly employed whenever downsizing staff and other expendable…units.
• • •The Soviet Empire‘s pre-meditated attempt (and subsequent failure) at eliminating all vestiges of God from the hearts and minds of its oppressed subjects offers some glimmer of hope in America‘s own internal struggles with anti-religious forces who, in a similar manner, are avidly seeking to promote a Secularist Agenda by advancing legislation aimed at removing religious symbols and displays from public forums and driving them underground where it is hoped such forms will one day be lost on future generations otherwise lacking the necessary (spiritual) predicates and values formerly derived by enlightened examples that, for centuries, provided structure and moral sustenance and meaning to religious thought.
• • •Nationalism, provided it respects the sovereign rights and traditions of other nations without seeking to trump or impose its own social and political values and customs on the normative order of other cultures and societies preferring their own customary traditions, instead, (although such intrusions are oftentimes ruses for advancing that nation‘s own geo-political designs), informs that nation of its (own) incomparable history and values and ―common‖ identity; defining its origin; informing its citizens of who they are as a People.
• • •The Balkanization of America will prove to be the inevitable outcome of ill-conceived immigration policies aimed at injecting
―diversity‖ into America‘s cultural landscape. The rapid influx of immigrants without providing them (sufficient) time or opportunity to properly assimilate, appears to be a calculated attempt on the part of universal designs to preempt American Culture. The solution to this unfortunate dilemma requires (the) reestablishing of and ―enforcement‖ of Immigration Quotas designed to preserve existing racial and ethnic balances (for the time being) while allowing recent arrivals an opportunity to properly assimilate into their new environment. Whenever recent immigrants are encouraged to casually disregard the customary traditions that typify the character of the host nation, that nation will inevitably acquire an entirely different meaning.
• • •Addendum to the above: I suggested maintaining ethnic and racial ―balances‖ for the time being because it requires a period of adjustment for everyone concerned before they are (emotionally) prepared to establish social relationships with unknown ―quantities‖.
(So history informs us)
Forms are merely generic designs of ―things‖ as we perceive them to be. We need to pass beyond sensual perceptions or outward impressions to what lies hidden and beyond, visualizing with our souls as well as our minds in order to correctly estimate (the) essential nature of things or (the) ultimate reality of what we think we see or go about thinking about ―things‖ we think about. This argument equally applies to how a person perceives or chooses to perceive other people or events that shape their lives. Such perceptions involve not only sight and mind and ―feeling‖ but soul searching and ―right reasoning‖ that ―correctly‖ informs or interprets what we see or think we see or wish to believe we see; that is to say, what each of us understands or believes to be factual or real.
• • •Innocence breeds Tolerance, or perhaps it‘s Ignorance I‘m confusing it with. Either way, both, on some level, represent the same thing. What is certain, however, is that Ignorance hardens Innocence while Innocence, in its proper turn, promotes Tolerance. Am I making myself clear?
• • •Patriotism or National Pride is considered in some circles common, vulgar and inconsistent with the requirements of a Universal Society. Traditional customs and manners, as they relate to love of country, while taking on an entirely different meaning in the modern sense, are under attack by Cultural Elites who consider national distinctions chauvinistic; outdated principle obstructions 32
impeding the advancement of its Universal Principles.
• • •Humankind‘s capacity for mischief should never be understated. What wickedness, encouraged by the prescriptive designs of internalized customs and manners, lies within the Hearts of Men?
• • •Canon or ―Ecclesiastical‖ Law is a body of laws derived from biblical and scriptural sources as well as the inspired writings of (private) individuals governing the (organization) of the Roman Catholic Church and its members. The law(s) have provided a (living) traditional framework directing Christian conduct. In recent years, however, many of the ―faithful‖ have been lobbying for easier application and/or interpretation of historical customs and teachings considered dated by contemporary standards. The gradual erosion of church authority, grounded on the written body of teachings of the Church, in favor of moral and ethical palliatives, has occasioned special accommodations for private viewpoints rather than conformance with precedential systems of principle teachings designed to guide and to promote proper Christian Attitudes.
• • •Potential should never commend itself to random or variable designs but continue striving (however), towards the highest level of human and spiritual achievement.
• • •Wealth is oftentimes attributable to Chance. It can be quickly taken away from us as suddenly as it was received. An individual should never feel overly confident or complacent (over) his or her (―own‖) good fortune, but stand guard, rather, (over) its capricious designs.
• • •That minority interests do not necessarily share power equally with social or political majorities is not an inherent Republican failing; such ―shortcomings‖, I believe, would be also apparent when, as is oftentimes the case, minority view points, advanced disproportionately in relation to its vested interests and (the) concerns of majority opinion, throw their weight around.
• • •Social Welfare agencies have assumed a life of their own that seeks to penetrate the viability and scope of their operations by carefully orchestrating and sustaining the ―needs‖ of the people entrusted to their care.
• • •Viewer reaction to current news events isn‘t (necessarily) a function of the (underlying) content of (the) events (themselves) but the manner that news journalists reporting (these) events interpret them for the ―benefit‖ of the viewing audience.
• • •Thoughtful Imagination, unlike Form (or material substance), is neither restricted by Time nor Space. Although operating from relatively fixed points, it is able to extend backward and forward or beyond the (limits) of its (spatial/time) dimensional coordinates.
• • •I am uncertain whether at any (other) time in our nation‘s history through the middle part of the present century has labeling been employed to characterize (or limit) a particular generation like ―baby boomers,‖ (or the self-indulgent generation), for example, or their offspring, the ―generation x‘ers,‖ (or the non-descript generation). In what manner do we define a generation? The former are/were ideologically inclined and self-centered, the latter, ideologically indifferent and self-centered in their (own) right.
• • •Objectivity and Truth, unencumbered by passion and internal themes, represent the highest forms of intellectual achievement. Neither are easy to achieve, however, inclined, as many of us are, to embrace subjective viewpoints that seldom have anything to do with the (true) ―nature of things,‖ that is to say, as ―things‖ really are rather than how they appear to be or what we would like them to be.
Subjective opinions are (often) reinforced by the ―exceptional‖ characteristics of an individual that (oftentimes) make it trying for that individual to understand ―things‖ correctly or place them in their proper perspective; guided and directed, perhaps, by an excessive regard for that individual‘s inestimable viewpoints that remains ignorant or unaware, however, of their underlying designs (or deficiencies).
• • •I am generally receptive to arguments that casual attire in the workplace is the first step towards promoting an ―undisciplined‖
working environment reinforced by the perception of relaxed professional standards. Although I firmly agree that professionalism is a function of character rather than appearance, I am equally inclined to support the notion that many individuals (including yours truly) require (some) structure in their lives and that the degree an employee adopts a more casual approach to his or her personal appearance, he or she will likely to adopt similar (laid-back) attitudes as they relate to work; that is to say, that the one arguably feeds off the other. Be that what it may, I would (much) prefer leaving my necktie on the tie rack rather than wrapping it around my neck.
• • •Western intelligence agencies efforts to surveil and monitor the activities of Islamic terrorist operations have been compromised, in part, by democratic restrictions that otherwise provide certain (tactical) advantages to terrorist groups indifferent to the principles of rule of law. Unless America and other Western European nations are willing to level the playing field by conceding a portion of its (civil) liberties and placing national security and (public) safety ahead of the ‖unalienable‖ rights of (private) individuals, the Free World could conceivably wind up with neither!
• • •Sorrow is oftentimes a necessary burden that helps to preserve the quality of being Human.
• • •An individual should remain on guard against internal inventions whose inestimable patterns are oftentimes (inconveniently) projected upon others.
• • •Immaturity is not (necessarily) a function of age but a by-product, rather, of an under-developed mind that hasn‘t fully ripened.
Immaturity, however, should not be confused with Innocence; that is to say, an individual impervious to wicked designs; virtuous and childlike in manner; whose artless qualities haven‘t been compromised by age or external designs, for that matter.
• • •Vast oceans no longer seem to provide adequate barriers against our nation‘s ideological enemies, opponents of Western Traditions, who, for a variety of reasons, most of them irrational, have been able to penetrate our borders without bother and establish bases of operations or cells in our own backyard.
• • •Television producers of situational ―comedies,‖ apart from exceeding the appropriate limits of decorum and (good) taste, are openly challenging the conventions of core (family) values as evidenced by its cynical contempt for traditional arrangements while passing it off as comedy.
• • •The House of Representatives recently voted down term limits despite high (80 percent) public approval ratings favoring its passage.
So much for the ―Contract with America!‖. What was it that I said about once assuming power?
• • •Isn‘t it ironic that, two generations following European Decolonization, the descendents of families who were mistreated, abused and exploited for economic profit (and) after having waged hard-fought battles to expel their former ―adversaries‖ from their home land, are now seeking ―political asylum‖ and/or economic opportunities in the ―mother nations‖ of their erstwhile ―imperialistic‖ exploiters.
• • •I anticipate that ―Intellectual Conservatism‖ will soon encounter a number of populist or grassroots challenges in the coming years. I am referring to ―Blue-Collar‖ Democrats, many of whom seem ripe for the picking but (will) still require courting by Conservatives sharing the same social and cultural values rather than wooed by the prospect of a tax reduction that remains the Republican Party‘s strongest suit.
• • •The unreflective opinions of the ―common man‖ remain the distinguishing features of our (great) republic.
• • •High Achievement is the result of hard work and (exceptional) effort, a product of the choices we make, or don‘t make, for that matter; not of group expressions; within groups, (however), there must necessarily emerge exceptional talents exceeding the normative standards of each group. Such achievements, however, should be cultivated in an intellectually purposeful environment that encourages rather than represses imaginative and creative designs.
• • •Wisdom is rooted in the Ages, the Origin of all (purposeful) knowledge and Experience.
• • •Comparative impressions and effects, however constant or variable or however subtle their impressions, cannot, by their uniquely perceived status, be properly understood by their presumptive credentials or possess equal value.
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Yesterday afternoon the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed by what government officials believe was the work of a domestic terrorist organization. The extent of the damage and loss of lives has yet to be determined although preliminary estimates place the death toll at around twenty. Although no group has officially claimed responsibility for the bombing, it is certain that Conservatives will likely take some heat from the liberal community anxious to score political points over this horrific event by (alleged) right-wing fanatics. (Guilt by Association.) What is certain, however, is that once the smoke clears, the Clinton Administration, whose record on Terrorism has been soft to begin with, will walk away from this tragedy unscathed.
• • •The family is the basic societal unit that provides structure and meaning, character and substance to (a) society. Families, however, do not exist in a (social) vacuum. They require the mutual support and interaction of its churches, schools and other (community) organizations to (properly) reinforce that society‘s customary values necessary for the functioning of a well-ordered society.
• • •What has been traditionally understood as protecting minority rights and equal protection under the law, as outlined in our Constitution, has taken on an entirely different meaning. Modern (judicial) interpretations are likely to promote the cause(s) of imaginary victims considered entitled to compensatory rights and special privileges based on historical grievances and ―disparate‖
results; superseding a rewards-based system predicated on the exceptional achievements of Individuals.
• • •The aforementioned bombing has been traced to (former) members of a right-wing militia group from Michigan. This is precisely what Liberals were hoping for! Here it comes: ―root cause‖ diatribes about the odious intolerance of Conservatives…and Republicans, that, to a news media handicapped by political blinders, will be perceived as ―Guilty by Association.‖
• • •Dear Alfonso - (Alfonso Zangardi)April 24th 1995
Your question on Saturday, how does an individual reconcile the Reincarnation of Jesus Christ with diverse Peoples and Cultures who knew or knew Him not, far exceeds my capacity to explain although I would like to give it a try. The Scriptures inform us that the Word preceded the Creation and that the ―Word was Good‖. Therefore, it must necessarily follow that Humankind, at whatever stage of its spiritual development, was already predisposed to its eternal ―meaning‖ although its (ultimate) purpose may not have been critically apparent to most; that is to say, moved by the Word or Holy Spirit, prior to the moment Humankind began giving pause to gods or God in whatever primitive or formal manner. The underlying premise of the Word preceding Creation, I believe, is fundamental to Christian Theology; otherwise, we would all be left with an uncertain notion that everything that is good, decent and worth pursuing is the arbitrary by-product of good intentions rooted in customs and manners rather than inspired by the Word of God.
Isn‘t it peculiar how even non-believers or skeptics, neither of whom are properly initiated in the manner of God and religious thinking, are oftentimes troubled by their conscience(s) in the way it checks or limits their behavior; a conscience that instructs that individual in the manner of right and wrong and good and evil? I don‘t believe that this phenomenon is entirely owing to chance. The Word or the Holy Spirit is perhaps the least understood ―Person‖ in the Holy Trinity however much He works within us.
Nevertheless, it was the Word, the Holy Spirit, if you will, that, preceding the coming of Christ, inspired ―Christian‖ Attitudes, on some level at least, among the more ―civilized‖ cultures. Christ was the fulfillment of God‘s promise or Word, first to the Jew (who rejected Him) followed by the Gentile through Paul‘s ministry and afterwards to all Peoples and Cultures through the efforts of His Universal Ministry. It has been often said that there are many roads leading to Heaven. Perhaps non-believers and skeptics alike, inspired by the Word, albeit unknowingly, who have followed the examples of Christ‘s Teachings in a ―non-religious‖ manner, may likely achieve eternal salvation through their own ―good‖ works‖ inspired by teachings many summarily ―reject.‖ (As Doctrinal Christians of course, the inherent limitation of good works is correctly understood; that salvation is obtained through Grace alone.) Perhaps the Word, in whatever manner it is applied, provided that it is in keeping with its Spirit, will ultimately reconcile us all to Christ.
My Love to all
• • •Charity and Compassion, Memory and Reason, Language and Custom, among many other (human) qualities and characteristics, are what separate Humankind from lower forms of life. The above represent a sampling of the essential characteristics that typically define what is meant by ―being‖ (human). It is Humankind‘s inherent capacity for being (human) that allows an individual to distinguish between right and wrong, for example, although that individual may oftentimes behave in a manner contrary to his or her (own) better judgment. (Why do we do the things we do when we understand (beforehand) that it is wrong to do them?) I believe that many of us are oftentimes ―victims‖ of our own internal designs; adopting behavioral attitudes contrary to our discriminating nature(s) that fail to give proper pause to their origin, ―the (cause) of their origin, its history, its qualities and attributes and its results and effects‖. (G.I. Gurdjieff); that is to say the how and the why we (often) behave the way we do.
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…… promoting misleading arguments rather than applying correct reasoning which should flow naturally from (our) intuitive understanding of (basic) human designs, respecting (all) people in (all) their various forms and aspects………
• • •The gradual erosion of a society‘s moral standing is not always apparent. Morality cannot be measured as one would a person‘s height or weight. It isn‘t visible to the naked eye. Morality, or Immorality, for that matter, is understood intuitively, implied beyond its outward expressions. An awareness of proper or improper behavior requires insight into the essential nature of things or ideas that otherwise inform our judgments. The eye often perceives uncertain or questionable forms of behavior at their face value, ―observing,‖
for example, an attitude, that, may appear charming and pleasant on the surface while in fact concealing a darker, insidious nature; that is to say, external impressions are oftentimes misleading. Therefore, can any of us ascertain, without qualification, that the manner an individual behaves is either moral or immoral without properly assessing that individual‘s underlying assumptions or conditions without compromising our (own) judgment? Insight into ―things‖, as indicated above, requires that an individual be cognizant of the internal factors that correctly define the quality of his or her actions; that such qualities ―unseen‖ are nevertheless as real as Character, Decency or Virtuosity, or their opposites, that become readily apparent to an inquiring mind.
• • •Americans have been generally receptive to new ideas however many of them have been (sometimes) slow to embrace them. Its (deliberate) manner, that oftentimes tests the limits of its collective tolerance, can be traced to its traditional support of liberty and acceptance, within reasonable limits, of comparative viewpoints and expressions however controversial or unpopular to some.
Operating in a free and open environment has historically encouraged Americans to consider the merit(s) and values of competing arguments by weighing the credibility of each in a manner that allows an individual to form accurate impressions and render sound judgments. When a society begins to lose its moral compass or becomes less critical of questionable points of views or unseemly behavior that diminishes an individual‘s intellectual and moral character, however, and when principled and far-sighted judgments(s) become increasingly muddled and uncertain and when that society fails to exercise reasonable discretion by indiscriminately embracing every hare-brained idea for tolerance sake or taking every (novel) proposition at its face value without giving serious thought to the matter and when an individual, lest he or she be perceived as close-minded or confrontational, remains on the sidelines as a casual observer rather than an active participant, such actions or inactions, whatever the case may be, must inevitably usher the moral and intellectual decline of that society.
• • •Mature relationships should be balanced by the essential requirements or needs of both parties involved.
• • •The requirements of job security and salary are inversely determined by age.
• • •Leadership, whether it is sought or thrust upon an individual, should balance the requirements of Duty and Ambition lest it promotes Corruption.
• • •Eternal or (Universal) Law is the final arbiter between Good and Evil. Humankind‘s intuitive understanding of the Law(s), informed by Conscience, does not entirely eliminate our doubt(s), however. Perhaps this partially explains why many of us are subject to Despair. An inquiring mind is always seeking higher counsel, answers to eschatological questions. Such laws often provide practical and spiritual guidelines that an individual may freely choose to accept or reject in proportion to his or her beliefs. The skeptic or nonbeliever, on the other hand, is likely to repudiate the divine ―promises‖ of timeless standards; that is to say, of rewards and punishments, in favor of transitory principles lacking (eternal) assurances and meaning. The absence of spiritual references and indifference to Divine Law has hastened an (uncertain) moral relativism of dubious value.
• • •
Learning informs an inquisitive mind by shaping unformed thoughts and opinions and providing form and substance to ideas while reconciling the diametrical dynamics of intellect and passion.
• • •Transcending the boundaries of (human) experience lies a dimension consisting of hidden truths whose meaning(s) extend far beyond the perceptual limits of an individual‘s (conscious) awareness. Such truths are faintly gleaned however ―objectively‖ real in whatever manner they may (otherwise) lack ―material‖ certainty that is not immediately apparent however properly informs an inquiring mind through the Intercession of Faith while fortifying the confidence level of (Intuitive) Reasoning.
• • •Poverty is not a permanent condition artificially conceived by conventional currents as many Liberals might otherwise argue. (On 36
second thought, however!) Their egregious ignorance of its transient nature and uncertain classifications often serve to persuade the misinformed and other well-meaning individuals to support (socialist) custodial policies that do little, if anything, to relieve its harmful effects. Capitalism, when unregulated and properly tuned, is designed to promote upward social and economic mobility along a broadly defined cross section of individuals and groups. Its (historical) track record has (especially) produced the highest margins among the lowest socio/economic groups in proportion to other income classes that are more financially secure. Despite its occasional shortcomings, (no system is perfect), Capitalism, especially in America, continues to provide the greatest benefits to the greatest numbers in a manner unparalleled in recorded history. Comparative exceptions owing to proportional differences in Character, Talent, Habit(s) and Motivation, however, are likely to produce a variety of (―disparate‖) results. Such does not negate, however, its (overall) salutary impact on society. Certain groups in recent generations, however, have been hampered, for political and social reasons, perhaps, by bureaucratic ―visionaries‖ whose (utopic) imaginations and impractical zeal for alternative (economic) reforms have repeatedly impeded economic progress, if not encouraged underachievement.
• • •Our perceptions are oftentimes unreliable, predisposed to conditioning and experience that undermines an individual‘s ability to see and think clearly.
• • •What is not freely given is not worth giving…or having.
• • •The American People have historically supported the argument that in the event of a national or catastrophic emergency, the Office of the Presidency should be vested with unusual or extraordinary powers or, in time of war, (―unlimited‖) wartime powers, in order to facilitate effective leadership unencumbered by political (party) partisanship. Such powers including, but not limited to, (temporary) wage and price controls, rationing, production quotas, extra-legal surveillances and curfews, limit, to some extent, a society‘s freedoms. These draconian measures, however unpleasant, are sometimes required in order to get the nation back on track. President Lincoln, for example, limited Free Press, threatened to incarcerate Pro-Southern sympathizers in the Maryland Assembly and suspended Habeas Corpus during our nation‘s Civil War. Although he wasn‘t president at the time, General Andrew Jackson declared Martial Law in New Orleans after a number of its prominent citizens were preparing to negotiate a separate peace with the British.
(―The Union Must and Shall Be Preserved‖) In the absence of political consensus, common in Republican Democracies, a certain degree of latitude and discretion should be extended to our nation‘s leaders with appropriate checklists in place.
• • •The alarming increase in anti-social behavior, especially in our inner cities, is, by every historical standard, unprecedented. Arguments exploiting ―root causes‖ by advancing false notions based on questionable economic assumptions, rather than devolving moral standards, have gradually promoted our society‘s collective disregard for human life while providing little if any credible solutions to this problem. Abortion, for example, has not only diminished us as a society, but undermined the very notion of our Humanity; that
―life is cheap‖! The conditioned qualities defining sympathy and compassion, charity and kindness have been marginalized; reduced to propositional afterthoughts. The banishing of prayer in the classroom and religious censorship in general are other examples that have engendered a moral and spiritual vacuum; especially among the middle classes. The nation‘s (public) school system, in keeping with its own socialist agenda aimed at undermining parental authority; has purposely encouraged self-centered attitudes extending beyond the limits of conventional tolerance. Its emphasis on sterile, uniform ―teaching‖ methods designed to promote ―esteem‖ rather than learning, has further undermined an educational-based value system and moral character by providing ―sustenance‖ to a growing number of mechanized, unthinking boys and girls overcome by their own (perceived) importance. Violence and outrage have increased considerably among socially and morally alienated young men and woman whose manners have seemingly lost all sense of proportion.
• • •In a society where youth is de rigueur and old age a nuisance, such (calloused) indifference is seemingly consistent with a society that has lost touch with its venerable customs. We have reached a stage in our ―evolution‖ where, as a society, we are no longer willing or able to (either) appreciate or acknowledge the legitimacy of anything or any idea extending beyond our own immediate interests thereby engendering a Ptolemaic mindset where Man has become the center of his own universe.
• • •Central Authority increases in proportion to a society‘s Aggregate Demands. That is to say, authority is often conferred as a quid pro quo in exchange for (public) favors. A society that has grown comfortable with largess may consider private enterprise a threat to popular dependence. Individuals who have grown accustomed to such ―favors‖, let‘s refer to them as tributes, will often take a rather dim view of exceptional or enterprising talents conveniently perceived as the personification of ―greed‖ incarnate; mobilizing, for their own personal ‖needs‖, resources that might otherwise serve the interests of people truly in need of assistance at the expense of other individuals who would rather manage their own affairs. This symbiotic arrangement has worked out quite conveniently for the appointed guardians of the ―underdog‖ entrusted with their ―welfare‖. Isn‘t it any wonder that the politics of victimization has often been the calling card of the governing rather than the ―governed‖? The more ―victims,‖ the more power invested in those who govern.
The key to retaining political power, of course, is to replenish the political caldrons of potential victims or those in ―need‖. To its 37
credit, Big Government can be very creative when it chooses to be. That it would employ its creative efforts in fulfilling its intended promise(s) by encouraging productive and self reliant attitudes rather than government dependency, such endeavors would go a long way in achieving a (morally) wholesome, more vibrant society.