Archive for December 9th, 2010

…the results are not always pretty.

Yesterday, I posted on the inanities expressed by some of the inhabitants of fantasyland on the anniversary of John Lennon’s death.  An internet sparing partner took significant umbrage with my post and follow-up remarks.  In fact, he was so offended by it that he composed a post today taking me to task for my opposition in the lamebrained wishcasting set forth in the song “Imagine”.

You can read his psuedo-scold at his place, but since he seems to think that the song embodies aspirations that are noble and admirable, I thought it best to explain to him why it isn’t so.   Like many on the Left, Rutherford would like to believe that his feelings take priority over reality.  I’m sure that he would disagree with me, but the problem with a worldview where the default is to one’s feelings first, and the brainbox a distant second, if it is that high on the list, is that the result is a handicap where the sufferer loses the ability to process information in a way that helps him to really understand what he is trying to process.  Hence the thought that seeing the filthy hippie’s ode as anything other than the expression of high-minded ideals we should all aspire to is to somehow reject optimism, and be guilty of the murder of an entire culture’s imagination.  But let’s examine what Lennon was saying, shall we?

Imagine there’s no Heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

 The only way a person thinks that this would be a wonderful state of affairs is if they never think of what that means.

Whether atheists and agnostics want to believe it or not, what normally keeps humanity’s baser impulses in check is a belief in the divine, and the thought of an eternity in which one is rewarded according to their behavior here when still shuffling about in a mortal coil.  If you remove that governor on human behavior, you will have chaos.  If you want what someone else has, what would stop you from taking it?  The Law?  In such a world, the law is only a set of rules created by someone else.  It isn’t something to be obeyed or feared.  And when people believe that when they die, that’s it, well then you get people who “live for today”.  The problem is that living for today is that it is often synonymous with bad decisions.  You don’t pay for that meal.  You charge someone double.  You ignore rules you don’t like.   You borrow money you can never repay to buy things that make you feel good.  You don’t pull out.  The strong prey on the weak, and there is no recourse.

Our world isn’t perfect.  Governments and individuals do things we don’t like.  Sometimes there comes a reckoning that we witness.  Sometimes the reckoning is one we never see, but without law, and the moral authority derived from a belief in the divine, we have the jungle.  A place that is arbitrary, capricious, savage, and without hope for anything better.   Rutherford thinks this is to be admired; I know it is to be reviled and avoided.

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for

Why would this be a good thing?  First of all, are we not constantly preached to about the acceptance of those who are not like us?  And often with the expectation that we hold these others and their own beliefs to be equal to or better than ourselves and what we believe in?  Seriously, where are the champions of diversity when this little ditty is playing?  Nodding their head in time to the notes from the piano, of course, because they never look for the consequences, only their feelings.

Then there is also the matter of the fact that some of us are quite attached to our countries, thankyouverymuch.  I may be mad as hell about the perversions, deceptions, and lies that the Left have inflicted on my country and my government for the last 100 years, but I still would choose to be an American everyday of the week and twice on Sunday, because it was this country that recognized that rights come from GOD and not men, and not governments.  Because it was this country that enshrined the ideal of the individual rather than a collective that exists to serve government. It isn’t always perfect, and as with any endeavor that relies on the participation of man, bad things have happened and been done in the name of freedom.   Some are known, some remain unknown, and even more remain unrecognized, despite being perpetrated in broad daylight, but as long as we remain free to believe in the divine, the eternal, and the justice that is its to give, we can continually strive to meet the highest ideals expressed in our charter.   That is worth killing for.  That is worth dying for.

And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

Having done this dance with Rutherford for over a year now, I can certainly see why he thinks this would be marvelous.   Our prior conversations have developed the picture of a man who believes that one can share basic moral convictions with a society without them being informed by a religion.  To an extent, I will concede that this is true, but if he believes that a society without a common religion or a history of once having a common religion is going to share a set of common ideals of what is “good”, or that it would find the idea of living in peace to be a good and noble goal is naive, and no matter how much he wants to believe that parents can inculcate a knowledge of “right and wrong” or “good and evil” without having their own ideals informed, even subconsciously, by the shared moral beliefs of the society in which they live (i.e. by religion) is doubly naive. 

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

I can imagine how its been tried before.  Its had so many names…socialism, marxism, communism, and yet the result has always been the same.  A system that denies the dignity of the individual, that links a person’s worth to their value to the state, a system where invariably, despite all the flowery talk of equality, some end up being more equal than others…not because of their own abilities, and not because of equal opportunities, but because of their ability to capitalize and exploit the contributions of others.   Think about the dreaded “group projects” inflicted upon each of us at some point in our educational careers.  Now “imagine” that those who are sponging off of your contributions and the those of others actually making the effort also have the ability to commandeer the results for themselves and have you imprisoned or killed if you dare speak up about it, and you pretty much have it nailed.  A potent combination of mediocrity, mendacity, misery, slavery, and death.   This is why the song is regarded by many to be an ode to communism (no, Rutherford, that was not solely my conclusion) and they would be correct.

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

Join this nightmare?  Not on your life.  The only one who could make it work, and not exhibit every manner of repression and depravity in so doing is the one who will one day return to do just that.  He is the only King whose claim has never been illegitimate, and until that happens, I am not surrendering my identity, my labor, and my soul to a collective.

Rutherford, however, cannot see past the perimeter of his feelings long enough to consider that those who chose not to guild the lily with empty optimism are not without hope, or a belief in something better, as he sips the bitter distillation of the death of his own optimism, and his casting about in search of others to blame for it:

BiW was back in the mode of so many conservatives who scoffed at Barack Obama’s Hope and Change rhetoric of the 2008 campaign. To believe the world could be a better place made you “perpetually naive”. 

To be fair, there was plenty to scoff at.  The glittering generalities and self-aggrandizing rhetoric would have seemed ridiculous tumbling from the lips of anyone else.  The difference between me and my friends, and Rutherford and the rest of his friends chanting “Yes We Can!”  and drooling over the crease of his pants, and how Presidential he looked was that we recognized it right away…largely because we did not default immediately to emotion, and succumb to wanting to believe more than wanting to understand.  As a result, he wants to believe that we have no hope for something better.  I find that ironic.  As a conservative, I believe in this country, and I believe in the abilities of the American people.  I don’t believe in a government that tells me that I can’t.  I can’t succeed without its help.  I can’t be content without it deciding what is fair.  I can’t think for myself; it must do it for me.   I can’t fail; it must protect me from consequences of my choices and actions.  Rutherford, like many on the Left fear having the right to decide their own destiny.  That’s what underlies the current movement of collective salvation.  And placing your hopes in a vain and shallow man whose principle pastime was shameless self-promotion and preaching the gospel of collective salvation, which, strangely enough, empowers him and others like him was putting it in the wrong place.   We are not without hope, and a belief in things better; we simply knew it was not to be found where you were looking, and now you know too. 

The song is flawed because it describes a world that cannot be because it goes against human nature. But isn’t that what aspiration is all about? Aren’t we here to resist the baser parts of our nature? Aren’t we here to change the world for the better? Aren’t we here to share in the world’s riches?

Share in the world’s riches?  No.  As the bylaws state:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

That does not mean “share in the world’s riches”, and unlike some in Congress who would continue to give such things away in exchange for dependence and allegiance with insanity like the DREAM Act, I understand this.  But then I also understand that making a better world doesn’t include simply giving those blessings away domestically, either.  General welfare is not promoted by giving food, clothing, and shelter away to those who are not interested in earning it, and I am not interested in giving those things to them.  If they want to earn them, and they need help, that’s different.  Help is first and foremost showing them they can do it themselves, and making them do it.  That spares them the shackles of dependency and the ingratitude of entitlement, and it spares the rest of us from slavery in having to fulfill that ever-growing sense of entitlement.  That’s a win-win.  That is paying it forward.  That is making society grow, rather than fragmenting it, and that will ultimately make the world a better place.

Rather than the ode to a utopia that isn’t, I much prefer the wisdom of this song:

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