Issues, News and Views
INSIDE MY HEAD WHILE I RIDE MY BIKE
2017/08/22 - I love riding my bicycle. I also love thinking. These are a few of my favorite things. Fortunately these two pass-times have high compatibility, cycling gives you lots of time to think about things. This morning I thought about, mulled over, and pondered three ideas in particular.
As I headed out north from Manahattan to Westchester at about 5am, my thoughts converged on the idea of self-identification. I've never really thought about it, I can only assume that that's because I've always been okay with who I am. Maybe that's because I was taught by my parents (and the Bible) that it's selfish to obsess about one's self. Taught that self-centered self-absorption is bad. That maybe if I spend more time loving and helping others, I would gain the genuine satisfaction that would nullify the need to wallow in self-searching. Taught that I am what I make of myself.
Back in High School I remember having a conversation with a girl who was sharing concerns about her low self-esteem. I suggested having no self-esteem whatsoever. Not zero, NULL. Nothing. Dispense with the concept. Just obsess with esteeming others, and from that you will find the satisfaction and confidence you seek. She chose to reject the notion, seemingly genuinely turned off that I felt no need to wallow with her in her self-pity. End of that story.
So fast forward to today's world where self-identification has inexplicably become a hot-button issue. A lot of agitated people caught in the downward vortex of misery. But I decided to humor myself for a moment while riding along and think about self-identification. To actually self-identify myself.
So how do I self-identify? Well, broadly, after giving it thought, what I realize is that I am - I self-identify as - who I make of myself. My parents were Dutch, and they brought me into this world in Canada, but I don't identify as either. I moved to the United States, and became a United States citizen. I am an American.
I identify as a proud patriotic American, it's something I have done and committed myself to, not something that others imposed on me, but rather, the result of choices I made. Ditto being a Christian, a conservative. I am a bicyclist, a pilot… an honest, ethical, fair person. And a thinker. I enjoy the time I spend biking and thinking… I am not what I was born, but the sum of the choices I've made since.
What I don't identify as, is being white, or male, or heterosexual, or... I don't really spend any time at all thinking about these things, any more than I spend monitoring the functioning of my internal organs. My natural attributes just are what they are. Kidneys and stomachs and skin and hair just do what they do. Don't worry about it.
Seriously, why should I enslave myself, box myself in, by circumstances beyond my control? Surely, defining yourself in terms of physical attributes is self-enslavement, no? Wouldn't I be surrendering my right to self-determination, by defining myself in terms of my parents? Do I choose to be about my past, or about my future?
I have always felt more affinity to black conservatives than white liberals, and I suppose that it's because I think of myself as a conservative, and not a Caucasian. Skin color triggers neither animosity nor affinity for me – I just don't care. I care about the way people think, the choices that they make. Like driving slowly in the left lane, or when drivers come within inches of hitting a cyclist, as if that's funny or something.
I suppose that is the American dream, the freedom to make choices and be who you want to be, not be controlled by the circumstances of your parents. Your life is your adventure, you are what you make of it.
In due course, after being almost-struck relatively few times, I arrived in the quaint little town of Bronxville and stopped for a coffee. My thoughts moved to a new subject, human rights. More specifically, the rights delineated in our Constitutions. It was President Trump's speech last night that got me thinking about this. Our society seeks to ensure that the rights of all people are protected. But, I was thinking, surely along with "Rights" comes "Responsibilities"… right?
Can a community of irresponsible people create or sustain a society where human rights are respected, with liberty and justice for all? The answer would seem to be unavoidably in the negative. Without specifying exactly how and what, it would just seem obvious that certain levels of conduct – order, morality, work ethic, constructiveness and productiveness, civility – are mandatory, are at the foundation of any community that would hope to assure human rights. With rights come responsibilities.
What are these responsibilities? It would seem to be simple, basic stuff – be polite and deferential towards others, avoid cyclists by as wide a margin as possible, stay in school, learn a skill, get a job, don't commit crimes, don't abuse or get addicted to substances, don't get or make pregnant outside of marriage… in others words, support yourself.
Is that asking too much? Just support yourself?
If everyone in the community is living up to some sort of code of responsibility, then all in the community will prosper. When proportions of the community begin shirking their responsibilities then the entire community is weakened. The greater the proportion, the weaker the community gets.
Does it not seem a little incongruous to sponge off society, while at the same time demanding "justice" from society? What is the just recompense due from society for those who choose to live off of the hard work of others? The Social Justice Worriers should be careful about what they're asking for, or they might just get it.
If everyone stopped working; and lived off EBT cards, subsidized housing and Medicaid; could our society survive? Could our Constitutional rights be sustained? Probably not. As the Democrat President John F. Kennedy said in his inaugural address in 1961, "ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country".
I am not wishing anything on anyone that I don't wish upon myself. Do unto other as you would have done unto yourself, and I want someone to hire me. I expect to occupy my working years with - work! Work is a very good thing, and not-work is a very bad thing. Get a job!
Even the Bible teaches that God worked six days and then rested on the seventh. God gave Adam and Eve work to do - he hired them to look after the Garden of Eden - before the fall, illustrating that work is a blessing and not a curse. And of course Jesus said in John 17:4 " I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do".
Work is good. It builds character in individuals, and prosperity in nations. Not-work is the opposite - it destroys people and it ruins nations.
What about public policy that encourages people to shirk - leftist public policy that encourages not-work, like the system of handouts, free stuff, advocated by today's discombobulated Democrats? As opposed to 20th Century Democrats, today's 21st Century Democrats can never stop asking what our country (and its taxpayers) can do for me. Me. Me. All about you give me. Just like self-identification. All about me. This is what the Democrat Party is all about.
No surpise, Democrats always oppose the President and Republicans who advocate for public policy that insists people learn skills, get jobs and pursue opportunity wherever the chase takes them.
As I began my ride back to Manahattan my thoughts turned to the tearing down of monuments related to anyone or anything that has even the vaguest connection to the old South. The purging of history gets weirder by the day, they're even coming after George Washington now.
Having been educated in Canada I have no affinity to the Confederate State of America. It was always implied that the abolitionist Union were the good guys, and the slaveholding Confederates were the bad guys. We were taught to be proud of Canada's part in the Underground Railroad. As a Christian I abhor everything about enslaving our fellow humans. As a conservative I believe that the employment-labor relationship is a voluntary, market-priced transaction, where coercion has no place.
And as a patriotic American I absolutely don't get people who fly the rebel flag. I am a fan of history, and my interpretation - pretty sure of its accuracy - is that the Confederacy was the enemy of America. And I'm pretty sure the two sides fought a war, and pretty certain hundreds of thousands died in the process. And I'm pretty sure the Union won. And thankfully so.
But, as I said, I'm also a fan of history. Tearing down every trace of our past seems not right. The far-left antifa radicals are doing the same thing the Taliban was doing in Afghanistan in March of 2001 in the lead-up to September 11, when they destroyed Buddhist art carved into the side of a mountain by launching artillery and rocket fire at it. Purging actual history and replacing it with their own fake version.
Or ISIS destroying Iraq's antiquities, purging anything not Islamic. Destroying real history, and replacing it with their own fake version.
I thought about similarities of Nazi Germany and the Confederacy. The monument controversy reminds me of Hitler's book-burning. As I mentioned, my parents were Dutch, and growing up in the Netherlands in the 1940's they saw their share of the misery of war. So I suppose if I self-identified as Dutch I might harbor some animosity towards Germans from injustices of the previous century; but I don't, and I don't.
So I wouldn't have a problem with some German village, perhaps the hometowns of, say, Erwin Rommel, Dietrich von Choltitz, or Felix Steiner, putting up statues in honor of their native sons. They were Generals in the German army who by most accounts seem to have been skilled military people who were exemplary in the deployment of their craft, and were ethical people innocent of war crimes and avoided causing unnecessary suffering (beyond the excesses that war by definition inflicts). Sometimes you end up on the wrong side of history. But it is still history.
Similarly I don't have a problem with a statue of Robert E. Lee, similar to my feeling towards Rommel, Steiner or von Choltitz. As for Jefferson Davis, I view him along the lines of Adolph Hitler – staunch advocates for a truly unjust cause, and I view their flags – Swastika and the Stars ‘n' Bars – as symbols of a truly unjust cause.
So I struggle to understand the statue vandals ("standals?"). They are not stopping at Davis or Lee, but they are now moving on to Washington and Jefferson because they were slaveowners. And Lincoln. The President who declared freedom for all – The Emancipation Proclamation – had his statue burned. In Chicago. The Land of Lincoln. Are these people crazy?
No, not crazy. They have been convinced by their community "leaders" - the "race bating poverty pimps" - to self-identify based on a past they cannot change or control. And so their future is doomed. The die is already cast. They have chosen to enslave themselves to their parent's past, rather than choose to enjoy the freedom and opportunity to be who they wish to be. They continuously re-choose to make the same mistake.
And they make themselves odious. I feel like we are heading toward 1968 all over again. History repeats or rhymes, except when it doesn't. But you can learn a lot from it. The 1968 Democrat convention in Chicago was marred by violence and insurrection, guaranteeing Nixon's Republican win that should not have happened. The Democrats made themselves an unacceptable choice for voters, the ballot box decision was an easy one.
When I finished my bike ride I stopped for breakfast at a nice little cafe on the Upper East Side, fired up my computer, and found an interesting article in the NY Post by Megan McArdle ("Public Fury Is a Lousy Way to Influence Anyone") that echoed similar thoughts.
And I ask myself, how can the Nancy Pelosi's and Chuck Schumer's of the Democrat fake-world excoriate President Trump for being insufficiently hostile toward the violent morons of the right, while at the same time they embrace the violent morons of the left? And why does the Biased Leftist Media enable them. And the answer is that they are lost in the Democrat fake-world
But the working men and women of America see all of this. And they see through the Democrat fake-world. And Donald Trump will be re-elected.
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