9 sentences about connecting

So much of what we read, and watch, and listen to, is about our differences.

Our skin color, our culture, our opinions.

So much of what is reality is what we have in common.

Great art is about what connects us.

Heroes are heroes.

Noble acts transcend differences.

If we’re pricked, we all bleed.

We need to spend less time obsessed with our differences.

We need to spend more time immersed in our commonalities.

Restoring liberty

I mentioned a little while ago that “I’m putting the final tweaks on a collection of musings about this topic, you know, the topic about certain, unalienable rights and the unpleasant folks who fight tooth and nail to take those rights away.”

At the time I was still wrestling with what to call the darn thing. With freedom and liberty under attack from all fronts, I flirted with titles like Freedom Elegy, and I considered bland titles like Essays on Liberty, and I even made a cover with just the title Freedom on it.

I think I’ve settled on the title I attached to a post the other day, and even a subtitle: Echoes of Freedom Past: Reopening, Reclaiming and Restoring Liberty. The first two words are from a blog post I wrote in the early days of the pandemic when it looked like the draconian measures were starting to lift a little, “Reopening and reclaiming.”

But then, “Restoring Liberty”?

How do you restore what has, in reality, never been gone? 

Let’s go back to the Declaration: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Got that? “Created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” that is to say, they have been yours from the moment you were created. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are “unalienable” rights, that is to say, it is a violation to infringe on these. 

Be that as it may, of course, depriving people of their unalienable rights is commonplace these days, especially via government fiat, and it is necessary to reclaim these rights and restore a culture of respect for them. How do we do that?

Folks like Henry David Thoreau, Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. taught a spirit of noncooperation with unjust laws. Thoreau refused to pay a poll tax to protest slavery, declaring “I cannot for an instant recognize … as my government [that] which is the slave’s government also.” Gandhi led a march to the seashore to gather salt in defiance of a salt tax that imposed a jail term on anyone who dared make salt for themselves. King was jailed for leading peaceful protests against racial segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. 

Restaurants and other businesses that refused to close, and even people who declined to wear a cloth mask, were publicly reviled and chastised during the pandemic even in the face of clear evidence the COVID-19 virus was going to infect its share of people no matter what the government ordered. There was negligible difference in the number of cases reported in states and nations that locked citizens down and those that allowed citizens to live their lives freely. The harder and longer government pressed, the more obvious it appeared that the orders had more to do with imposing its will than protecting health. 

Even so, many would-be leaders were loathe to lift the restrictions, and they and their sycophants work to this day to to suppress dissent from the party line. But that’s how you restore rights: By exercising them — speaking out, assembling peaceably, and refusing to cooperate with laws that blatantly infringe on them.

A common trait of political beasts is that once they have passed a law or tax, even a bad one, they will resist repeal with every fiber of their being. Once a right is taken away, getting it back becomes a daunting task. Close to two years after we began to reopen, some of the restrictions and government presumptions have still not been lifted, and some may be permanent, or as permanent as bad law ever can be.

It’s up to us to live, be free, and pursue happiness even when — or perhaps especially when — it means defying those who would deny us those rights.

And so, the book’s title will be Echoes of Freedom Past: Reopening, Reclaiming and Restoring Liberty. I still expect to make it available by the first day of summer. In fact, I submitted the materials Saturday with a publication date of June 21, so assuming all goes well, you’ll be able to pre-order yours before then.

Where have you gone, Henry L. Mencken … ?

Baltimore Examiner and Washington Examiner

A dear friend of ours celebrates his birthday today, and in his card I told him how grand it is that we have lived to see H.L. Mencken’s prophecy fulfilled — the first quote below. Then I thought I would mark the occasion here by sharing some of Mencken’s timeless observations. I had 10 within minutes, and I could go on and on.

One thing we need in our time is an H.L. Mencken. Happy birthday, Stewart:

“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by an absolute moron.”

“The plain fact is that education is itself a form of propaganda — a deliberate scheme to outfit the pupil, not with the capacity to weigh ideas, but with a simple appetite for gulping ideas ready-made. The aim is to make ‘good’ citizens, which is to say, docile and inquisitive citizens.”

“I believe that it is better to tell the truth than a lie. I believe it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe it is better to know than to be ignorant.”

“A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.”

“Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.”

“Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.”

“You can’t do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and depth.”

“The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.”

“People do not expect to find chastity in a whorehouse. Why, then, do they expect to find honesty and humanity in government, a congeries of institutions whose modus operandi consists of lying, cheating, stealing, and if need be, murdering those who resist?”

“The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out … without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitable he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, intolerable.”

It’s all on us

I got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. Everything irritated me. Except I got up on the same side of the bed I always do. What was the real difference? Why was it that little things I usually overlook were now annoying? What was the — to use a silly overused psycho word — trigger?

It had been a night of interesting, even entertaining dreams. I have no actual recollection of the content, just that I was engaged in the stories and a willing participant. There may even have been a happy ending, and maybe therein is a clue. I didn’t want to leave that world and wake up to this complicated world with its foolish idiots trying to run our lives and its words my failing ears can’t hear and its dogs that demand attention and the new crossword puzzle in the local paper that I can’t solve without over-reliance on my cheat website.

It’s all in the attitude, they say. We can’t help that politicians are almost uniformly sociopaths who commit evil because they can’t help themselves. We can’t help that wars are started to change the subject from their incompetence, and people die to cover up their mistakes. We can’t help that the sun isn’t shining or we’re out of breakfast cereal or the film we watched last night had a stupid ending.

The only thing we can help is our reaction and how we process what happened.

I have to say, that realization does make it easier to let go of the irritable feelings. I remember I love our home and all its denizens and that life is pretty good here. I remember that as much as they want to be the center of our lives and bombard us with reasons “why they need us,” they really don’t affect our everyday lives substantially and we’re free to live more or less as we wish.

Why are petty thieves and villains in charge of the world? They’re not. Petty thieves and villains are in charge of the world’s governments, but the governments are not the world and the governments are not “us.” When governors and their governments act, we didn’t do that; the alleged bosses of our lives did. Oh yes, when we blindly obey or do what they say, we did do that, but they don’t represent us when they go about their everyday madness.

I have no quarrel with you; I just want to live my life my way and let you live your life your way and beg pardon when we go different ways, as long as we don’t infringe on each other. I saw a quote from John Wayne’s last movie, The Shootist, the other day, in which his character said, “I won’t be wronged, I won’t be insulted, I won’t be laid a hand on. I don’t do these things to other people, and I require the same of them.” I must say that’s a lovely way to live, if stated a mite harshly. Essentially it’s “Be kind and expect kindness, and you’ll get up on the right side of the bed more often.”

Ebeneezer Scrooge as role model

As I come within spitting distance of my 70th birthday, now 13 months away, I increasingly am convinced that the ruling class of this world, like all sociopathic criminals, is always looking for ways to decrease the surplus population.

The phrase is from Ebeneezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Representatives of a charity approach Scrooge, saying, “a few of us are endeavoring to buy the poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth” for the holidays. The then-miser asks if the prisons, workhouses and Poor Laws have been shut down.

“I help to support the establishments I have mentioned — they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there,” Scrooge said.

“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”

“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

Much as our political betters have decided Nineteen Eighty-Four has a happy ending — Winston Smith finally loved Big Brother, after all — I think they also forget that Ebeneezer Scrooge was in need of reform, and in fact becomes a good man in the end. They seem hellbent on decreasing the surplus population as fast as they can.

Weapons of mass destruction, gain-of-function viruses, and sketchy vaccines and magic pills proliferate in the hands of not very subtle bullies who manipulate people into believing the most amazing lies, the biggest lie being that their top priority is protection of the people.

When we left Scrooge, he had become “as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man as the good old City knew, or any other good old city, town or borough in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them, for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed, and that was quite enough for him.”

We should aim to be more like the reformed Ebeneezer Scrooge, who “lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle ever afterward; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us.”

In seeking more information about what might be described as “the Total Abstinence Principle” in 1843, I mostly found commentators who concluded Dickens was making a pun on Scrooge having “no further intercourse with Spirits” (get it? Spirits? Abstinence?), but I did find one site, easierwithpractice.com, a “bank of knowledge,” that suggested the Total Abstinence Principle might refer to “abstinence from being bitter, mean-spirited, angry, dour, greedy, grasping, self-centered and unforgiving.” 

That’s a Total Abstinence Principle I could get behind.

Canadian truckers speak for us all

Guy Fawkes Mask © Neydtstock | Dreamstime.com

I spent time Saturday morning catching up on the independent journalist coverage of the Freedom Convoy standoff in Ottawa, where the prime minister of Canada and the premier of Ontario continue to defy the people’s demand to loosen the chains they have put on their nation’s economy.

In a remarkable article by Rupa Subramanya that was posted on Bari Weiss’ Substack, “What the Truckers Want,” she noted that it’s not an “anti-vax” protest seeing as the vast majority (some say 90%) of Canadian truckers have received the injections for COVID-19:

“So it’s about something else. Or many things: a sense that things will never go back to normal, a sense that they are being ganged up on by the government, the media, Big Tech, Big Pharma.”

Subramanya said she has “spoken to 100 of the protestors gathered in the Canadian capital,” in part because she lives nearby. “What’s happening is far bigger than the vaccine mandates.”

As of Saturday the protest/strike has been nonviolent and isn’t stopping despite Big Government/Big Media/Big Tech/Big Pharma’s efforts to smear and misrepresent them. Many local and state governments, understanding the power of the people, have been lifting the mandates that provoked the protests — but the Powers That Be with the biggest stakes in keeping us under the boot, the Justin Trudeaus and Joe Bidens, are doubling down.

Biden’s handlers the other day urged Trudeau to use his powers to do what it takes to open up the Ambassador Bridge between the U.S. and Canada — and they weren’t talking about listening. I fear at some point the government will use violence to break it up, risking civil war rather than following the people’s will, as tyrants always have.

People toss around words like “communist” and “totalitarian” to describe the ideology of this ruling class, but I think “tyrant” is the most appropriate. The word is free of the political implications of communist or Nazi or fascist or whatever, and it names them accurately. They are simply tyrants who want to be in charge, and they don’t cotton resistance. It’s a weird world right now with these tyrants terrorizing everyone.

If “people should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people,” then Justin Trudeau may be the most frightened person in the world right now. Frightened people often do stupid things; fair warning.

Calm down and take a soma

 Orwell © Idiltoffolo | Dreamstime.com

The “big three” dystopian novelists, I believe, are Orwell, Huxley and Bradbury. In many ways we live in Orwell’s totalitarian dystopia; in many ways we live in Bradbury’s book-burning dystopia; but I think Huxley and his soma-induced dystopia may be closest.

Here is a magic pill to take away your pain; here is a magic pill to make your sex life better; here is a magic pill to clear up your skin, to clear out your lungs, to help you sleep, to keep you awake, to lift your spirits, to focus your mind, to deaden your soul, to conquer your fears, to keep your heart beating, to help you lose weight, to overcome your addiction — there’s a magic pill for everything.

Every few moments there’s an ad for something you need to rebalance your body chemistry so you can live a normal normal life. I don’t have a quarrel with legitimate medicine, but seriously, there’s a pill for every real and imagined disease, and imagination conjures newer diseases and more magic pills every day.

And magic pill manufacturers have placed themselves among the most powerful folks in our society, right there next to the politicians. Follow the money: If you were a media mogul, would you listen to calls to take money out of politics, knowing that the money in politics purchases millions and millions of dollars worth of advertising on your platform? Would you have your news department investigate whether a certain magic pill or vaccine is killing people, knowing that every other non-political ad is for a magic pill?

Or would you hire “fact checkers” to certify that people who criticize certain politicians or question the magic pill makers are spreading misinformation?

Our real dystopia combines elements of Orwell, Bradbury and Huxley, in fact. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, the surveillance state is omnipresent. In Animal Farm, some animals are more equal than others. In Fahrenheit 451, TV screens are so big they take up entire walls, and ideas that make people uncomfortable are illegal. And in Brave New World, magic pills make everyone so comfortably numb that they don’t notice they’re living in dystopia. 

All is not lost, of course. The words of Orwell, Bradbury and Huxley are still available, and people are still reading them. I suspect that’s why The Powers That Be have doubled down on dystopia the last couple of years: More and more people are waking up.