What I mean to say is that I am done with spontaneous story telling in public places. In good story writing one must take risks. In taking risks, half the time you look at what you’ve done and say “I can’t say that.” and the other half of the time you say “I can’t say that, but if I change just this, it’s brilliant!”
This risk-taking is not made for an impromptu stage, it is made for paper and small gatherings in private among friends. This is not to say you cannot be risqué, but such must first be vetted with thought and sleep. But after watching the first season of Game of Thrones, I suppose I don’t truly feel bad about including cliché references to a Haram and Midgets in my latest foot-in-mouth tale.
The fundamental issue has always been the balance of liberty with protection, or better, safety. The protection need not always be in the form of military protection, it can at times be in the form of social welfare protection, which allows one the safety of income when they do not have work or the funds to deal with difficult disease, but how the balance is struck is always the issue. For the Republican, the balance is thus: enforce conservative values so that social welfare costs are minimal and strengthen our military to prevent outside disruptions. For the Democrats the balance is thus: strengthen our social welfare so that folks can live their civil liberties to the fullest and make friends with our world, so that they like us enough not to attack.
If you take either of these positions on their own, you will notice that they are frankly implausible. On the one hand, you can’t force people to live risk free lives and this is by-n-large what you would need for no welfare. On the other side, you cannot simply be friends with your neighbors, for you cannot simply allow yourself to be trampled on – as occasionally and unfortunately happens in this world. Of course, no one would ever take only positions on the right or the left, since they would get killed in a political forum by someone more towards the middle. Who is this person in the middle? They go by “Democrat” or “Republican” or “Independent”, but they are sometimes at heart the Libertarian.
The Libertarian does not play only on the let or only on the right. The Libertarian sees that the compromises of liberty can be addressed head on and not through the polar political dynamic. They do this by realizing that effectively the political space is not appropriately filled. What is missing is one who attaches foremost importance to liberty, but realizes that protection of all sorts are necessary and compromises need to be made in the sphere or taxation as well as civil liberty, and that they can be made and addressed directly, and at the same time.
What goes by “Libertarian” these days is something of a head scratcher. It is true that a rollback to the days of the constitution is appealing, but the issue is that you cannot have your cake and eat it too. If you want security, you must tax. This is true whether you are Republican or Democrat. Whether those taxes go to a social variety or whether they go to a military variety, you still need money to fund the projects. The Republican façade has always been that taxes should be minimized. But these tax breaks amount to kickbacks to the rich for favors of various sorts which amount to a means to a perceived social safety ends. The democrats deal with social matters more direct way, without as much deception, but they fail to appreciate the social costs involved in not enforcing conservative lifestyles.
***This is the final part to Just Liberty, written in early 2010. I was inclined to remove the phrase “without as much deception” in writing it here, but I have felt compelled to leave it. The deception is in the minimization of taxes as the best support for liberty.***
Part II of Just Liberty essay, written in early 2010.
“These are the times which try men’s souls.” – Thomas Paine
If you are protecting your image from ridicule by not being the you most beloved, then you are performing for the wrong audience and it is time to quit your day job.
“Just listening to your recording. It appears you are white.”
“Yes… Is that in my recording?”
“I gathered that from some things. Not to mention your skin color.”
“Yes, my skin is white.”
“Yes. Yes it is. Now tell me, how does a white boy know the blues?”
“Like anyone I’ve had life’s comeupin’s.”
“Nobody talks like that anymore… where are you from?”
“Wisconsin, but we have black people too.”
“Oh is that how black people talk?”
“They used to. I read it in Faulkner and Twain. They are always gettin’ their comeupin’s.”
“Ok anyhow. Did you ever work a chain gang? Or flea a coon hunt? Or overcome an addiction? Or get your heart stomped on by a woman? Or do any bluesy thing in your life?”
“That’s not really what the blues are about sir. They are about facing trials and obstacles that don’t relent. They are about that forlorn sentiment that accompanies relinquishing hope to a life of daily bludgeoning by unseen forces.”
“And you know this, this sentiment?
“Well, yes sir. I do a lot of reading on the internet. And putting aside the awful lack of general prosaic literacy, the writing tends to nurture the utmost depravity by means of insinuating my ignorance, and this leads me to indulge in a superficial vice which diverts my general frustration.”
“like the sensual delights of the female figure.”
“Yes, but a little… anyway yes.”
“This ain’t the blues son. You gonna sing about that? This is plain old lack of confidence.”
“What makes you think this?”
“Ok. I find this a terrible judgment of my character from my otherwise homely appearance.”
“You ain’t so ugly son. Just wimpy is all.”
“Yes, I have a bit of a feeble constitution.”
“Wimpy. Just wimpy. You got to sit up straight and try to put some meat on those bones.”
“And how can you sing the blues with those wimpy pipes? Give me a little raspy Satchmo will ya?”
“Technically Mr. Armstrong was a jazz musician. But here it goes…”
“How do you know? You are not African American either. You’re whiter than me.”
“Ugh, now it’s a racial thing…”
“I know the blues son. Plenty of white artists know the blues too. Now I have a jet waiting, but if you want to send in an audition recording my staff in the foothills will look it over.”
“Tell me now sir, what will it take?”
“To make it? The grace of God.”
And with that, my life took a religious turn.
Is it that deep within us, two modules collide, and what springs forth is something irreducible to either?
Is it that Angels and Demons have it out, and what gets through is either passible innocence or determined indiscretion?
Is it that we know what we want to say and intentionally sew it a cloak?
Is it that a hack is made and we say from suggestion what we never intended?
For the ignorant, there may be only one answer and always.
For the writer with a story to tell it is none of these, but rather a weave that touches many realities and still appears a single thread.
Some of you have always been yourself. You live without any adopted affectations which are necessary for others to move fluidly in social situations. There is no need for hours in the mirror. There is no need for pinching pennies. Instead of investing discretely in a social appearance, which may persuade some you mingle in circles, you simply invite dilatants to your home to flirt with dignitaries. Others just don’t care for games of status. They come from family which valued work and friends and family and personal eccentricity and you have been capable of happily playing small games of little consequence and much reward for most of your lives.
Others were happily themselves as children only to have found their genuine selves vanishing with age, while running into conflicts or disappointment which later pushed them to affect manners, behavior, or appearances which were not true to their personalities or lifestyles, striving to be people they deemed successful. They may desire to be elite or even desire to be more grounded. Others were not allowed to be themselves even as children and strive to discover who they are, as much as they may try to flourish as themselves. In such cases it can be very difficult for you to say who you are, or how you get there. I don’t believe it impossible, but certainly it is very difficult.
Personally, I have always sensed that I was a little too old a little too early and a little too quickly. My parents did their best to preserve who I was so that I may live as I was, but the world caught up with me and led to the death of a child by a thousand tiny slights and a few verifiable stabbings. At some point in your life, you realize what is happening, and you fight against it, preserving for our children what you once had or wished you had or wish you had again. It is why people tend to, if not become conservative, then at least respect the conservative position with age.
I have identified the self with something independent of affectations. The validity of this may be debated. But to me it is clear that the more you know, the more affectations you must have, and it is much easier to withstand the onslaught without losing the vitality of life, if you were allowed to be yourself when you were young.
In order to be deliberate in your decision making you must have conviction in how the world is and how you want it to be. You need time and intelligence to understand how the world is and to trust that understanding. You need both of these, as well as an understanding of yourself to understand how you want the world to change. Seeing this change happen is the definition of success for an individual. Understanding what success is for you is the first step towards realizing it.
When I ask how the world would change for me, I hesitate. I do not hesitate for change in my life. I can think of any number of things I would like to change for me. I would like more travel, more time to write, more time to research, more opportunities to give informed opinion to more people, more time with my son, more opportunities for intelligent companionship, more opportunities for sensitive companionship, more opportunities for intimacy, more time among natural beauty, more time drinking with old friends, more time drinking with festive strangers, more time to watch movies, more time to read books, more money to eat good food, more time to watch sports and talk politics with my Dad, more time to talk art and psychology with my Mom… But if I had to say how I would change the world, here I am more reluctant.
I am “live and let live”. I am not one to dictate the world to others unless I know and clearly that they are wrong. I do believe in the protection of the environment; I do believe in security; I do believe in approaching social policy sustainably; but I am passionate about protecting “live and let live”, the variety and diversity of human culture, and faith against the adversarial in spite of adversity.
I can live with moments foiled by adversity, but I can’t live well with moments foiled by adversaries, including moments foiled by adversaries under the cover of adversity or other people. In some sense, this is what Saving Social Faith is really about, saving people from the fear of unwarranted adversaries. For my part, I had always thought I would help with this task with writing and research. I am realizing that I must do more, but it is starting with this.
I will always honor those who save the environment, protect our safety, and think of our future with sustainable social policies; but for my part, I can only work to keep and promote the faith in those who save and protect. If you know of ways to promote a warranted confidence in our institutions, infrastructure, and security, I would like to hear.