Who and What is the Happy Warrior

The Happy Warrior is the title of a poem... and yes, I love this poem. I do not wish to be mischaracterized, for the most part poetry is not my bag. I am not an afficionado of literature nor am I a metro-sexual (I despise that term) but a dear friend introduced me to this masterpiece of prose several years ago... it has provided no end of inspiration. The Happy Warrior by William Wordsworth outlines the qualities of a magnificent soul. I aspire to possess even one or two characteristics that "every man in arms should wish to be."

This blog is a representation, in conversational form, of my voyage to wrap my arms around the world in which Mr. Worsdworth's warrior finds happiness.

(Standing disclaimer: Luckily tests of spelling accuracy ended in 4th grade otherwise I would still be in Elementary School. Be forewarned, spelling errors ahead. I subscribe to the wisdom of a great man who said, "I have utmost disdain for a man who can only spell a word one way." -Benjamin Franklin)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Out-of-wedlock births and clashing value systems

A reader recently took objection to my over-simplified assertion that a rise in secular humanism is the cause (or is even correlated strongly with) the rising trend in out-of-wedlock births. Let me offer a summary argument and see what readers think:

Values are the antecedent and the determinant of actions/behavior. In other words the reason person 1 behaves a certain way and person 2 behaves in a different way under the same conditions is a factor of their value system. True, there are some minority of individuals who are mentally or psychologically unable to rationally make decisions or who otherwise have some form of psychopathy but this is the exception to the vast majority of cases. Also, it is important to recognize the nearly endless combination of social, environmental, economic, cultural and individual circumstances at work in each individual’s life but these are ultimately aggravating or mitigating factors which one weighs against their espoused value system when contemplating between behavior 1, behavior 2 or behavior n. This is to say: in the end, the behaviors we perform and the decisions we make comes down to ones values.

If discussed in detail we would discover a multitude of value systems utilized by individuals and perpetrated within different social groups. We can also summarize many of these on a macro level. In the United States, for example, the Judeo-Christian value system is a predominant guide to behavior. In several Arabic countries we could identify the Muslim value system. These are not static systems but rather subject to change and refinement over time but they have at the core distinctive principles which inform moral or acceptable behavior and expectations. A rival to Judeo-Christian values is secular or humanist values. I am aware that there are differences between secular and humanist perspectives but they are close enough to each other and distinctive enough from the Judeo-Christian values as to be summarized together. There is currently a war in American culture between the secular and the Judeo-Christian values. This is obvious in best selling intellectual books (God is not Great, The God Delusion, The End of Faith), in Hollywood or the media generally, in political policies (many of which are contriversial because they are the point at which these competing value systems meet), in court decisions and in academia. This struggle surrounds us and is evident in macro and micro behavioral trends. The increasing trend in out-of-wedlock births is illustrative.

Judeo-Christian values suggest that sex is a sacred act and should be reserved for two married people. This value system also holds that children are best reared in a two parent (of different genders) family. These values suggest that family life is more important than professional accomplishment (although the two do not necessarily need to be exclusive). Secular values view sex as an act not entirely different than eating or breathing -certainly not a sacred act. Certainly secular humanism promotes the free expression of sexual behavior and goes so far as to indicate that religious based restrictions on sexual behavior are oppressive and naïve. Secular values run counter to Judeo-Christian values when it comes to defining marriage, the differences between men and women, the unborn, what constitutes success, the role of government, etc. It follows then, that a society that adopts a more and more secular value system will, among other things, see greater numbers of out-of-wedlock births. I do not see how this is controversial or debatable. We may disagree on which value system is best ("best" of course is subject to different conceptions -it depends on what your definition of "best" is) but the logic of this progression between values and behaviors is straightforward and entirely tenable.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Out of wedlock births and moral decay from a secular perspective

It is futile to argue religious based morality with modern secular intellectuals. They view us as babeling infants. According to them, escape from the religious social mores of the past is one of the greatest advancements of the twentieth century although they are not yet satisfied since a majority of Americans still hold to a belief in God. So to express lamentation about the continued surge in births to unwed mothers from a religiously informed moral perspective is entirely ineffectual.

And so this short entry seeks to convince these secularists, these intellectuals, these agnostics of the precarious social condition resulting from unbridled sexual behavior from their own tradition. The truth of the matter is, theirs is not a sophisticated position of informed reason... it is a simple case of human pleasure (what we should honestly call the modern right to narcisim) above all else. This is really simply a state of carnal anarchy. If they were, in fact, true to the roots of humanism and reason, they would have to confront such thinking as this (who argues for sexual discipline not from a religious perspective but from a basis in rational logic):

Abstain from casual sex and particularly avoid sexual inercourse before you get married. This may sound prudish or old-fashioned, but it is a time-tested way by which we demonstrate respect for ourselves and others. Sex is not a game. It gives rise to very real enduring emotional and practical consequences. To ignore this is to debase yourself, and to disregard the significance of human relationships.
An active sex life within a framework of personal committment augments the integrity of the people involved and is part of a flourishing life.

This statement was from Epictetus' manual The Art of Living. Although Epictetus lived after the time of Christ and certainly during an era when the Judeo value system was established in small pockets of the world, he was almost certainly ignorant of these deity-centered perspectives. He was born a slave in AD 55 in the eastern outraches of the Roman Empire. He was a philosopher who concerned himself with the primary question of how to live the good life. His reason based thought processes, methodology and egalitarian spirit parallel those claimed by the intellectuals of today. Epictetus' conclusions --on sexual behavior and so many other "moral" concerns involved with the pursuit of a happy life (which is to him completely synonymous with a "virtuous" life)--more closely resemble the conclusions of modern day religions than they do of secular intellectuals. So, who has the informed perspective and builds on the rich history of rational thought?

It seems to me that the best minds--religious or secular--prescribe a very different kind of morality than what is being widely forwarded by today's liberal, intellectual and so called humanist school. I ask you, how humane is it to bring one out of every four children into a society where they are immediately placed in precarious social and economic conditions?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Births to unmarried mothers... going where no man has gone before

As was the underlying theme of Star Trek, we are now venturing into uncharted territory. Unfortunately for us, this is not a good thing. In fact, unlike the exploits of the crew from the starship Enterprise who always had the potential of discovering some new technology or helping some oppressed civilization, there is nothing good to come of our current expedition.

Just last week the Pew Research Center published their "New Demography of American Motherhood" where they revealed 4 in every 10 births (actually 41%) were to unmarried women! And so my play on words has some meaning: we are in a place where no man has gone before because all the men are gone from society's most essential relationship -marriage. Oh they seem to be quite involved in the sexual act that, at one time, had a high correlation with and was temporally antecedant to marriage... Yes, they are willing to go that far (and the moms-to-be are evidently willing enough to be used as paternal-free pre-preganancy pleasure objects).

But of course we are so much more enlightened now... there is no need for sexual activity to be couched in the context of a committed matrimonial relationship! We have thrown off the oppressive contraints of religious self-denial and can pursue pleasue without the slightest thought of consequence. After all our public education system will teach the highly technical technique of proper condom use and our youth will be consequence free. All will work out so fantastically... EXCEPT for exhibit A: 41% of all children now born come into the most highly unstable and precarious situation. Consider the findings further:

"A record 41 percent of all U.S. births are now to unmarried women -- this, up from 28 percent in 1990. Half the children born to Hispanics are to single mothers, while just shy of three-quarters of all black children born are to single mothers. For whites, 29 percent of births are to unmarried women -- up an astonishing 69 percent over the past two decades.

Given that there is no single demographic factor more predictive of poverty than being born into a single-parent household, this is not good news at all."

What a tragedy.... No, "tragedy" assumes some element beyond our control -some sad condition of chance. This is a direct result of conscious choice and re-estimation of morality. Hence we have done this to ourselves. It is evidence of a dispicable self-centered belief system that is directly opposed to traditional, conservative, God-based morality!

More to come...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Religion, the State and Freedom

A few weeks ago this blog contained a conversation between myself and a "Charles D" over the recent judicial decision that declared the National Day of Prayer as unconstitutional. Charles D (who by way of full disclosure is a member of the Ithica Democratic Socialists of America) forwarded a discussion that essentially rests on the constitutional notion of "separation between church and state". His interpretation of this safeguard permits ZERO overlap between religion and government. This view is at odds with not only the explicit meaning of the founders (i.e. what they meant by "separation of church and state") but also contrary to the actions of these founders and subsequent statesmen/women. God has been invoked in every presidency, Congress, court of law, state, in the military, etc. God permeates our political and social culture WITHOUT a belief, doctrine or practice being forced on any citizen. If we abandon God we loose the very foundation of our civilization and political structure. One question is sufficient to establish this fact. Where is the basis of our individual rights if we remove God from this bedrock declaration: man is "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

If our rights are not given us (an endowment) from God, then they must be from ourselves... we made them up and/or are claiming them (or perhaps you have a third alternative like alien endowment). If they rest in mankind than mankind can certainly take them away by sophistry, revision or willing surrender. This is the inevitable end of the arguement that God has no place in government. The argument against some God-Government joint venture is articulated by my friend Charles D:
You have every right to believe in God, pray every day and call upon your fellow Americans to do the same. However, you should not use the coercive power of government to encourage others to embrace your religion, nor should government show a preference for one religion over another or for religion over a lack of religion. That is not the role of government.

When religious belief is intertwined with government, it not only is offensive to those who do not share that belief, it is corrosive to religion itself.

What Charles fails to recognize is that the National Day of Prayer (or any other practice where religion currently has a footprint in government) is not 1. using coercive power to embrace any particular religion, or 2. is not prefering one religion over another including athiesm. There has never been a people more free to practice or abstain from praciticing religion than in the United States of America over the past 223 years. Civil rights and individual liberties are not being infringed upon. I challenge anyone to provide a concrete example of where a non-believer was forced to engage in prayer or other religious exercise.

On the other hand, I have an example of the state's oppressive power to keep people from exercising their right of exercising their religious beliefs. This is the natural progression of the ruling against the Day of Prayer and of Charles D's political persuasion. Those who are pressing to seperate God from government ultimately are for the prohibition of any individual exercise of religion. Read this story and tell me whose liberties, whose basic rights of conscience are being extinquished:

(click image to read more)

Nietze was right... God is dead and we are killers. If God is dead and gone, how long can the inalienable rights that He gave us remain? Surely those that killed God will want to kill any vestiage of him. After all, we now have a system much more responsive than God. We now have government in whom we can trust with all our needs: food, shelter, health insurance and retirement. At lease we can see, touch and feel government. God with all his mystery, absenteeism and mandate of blind obedience was so annoying... If only he would give a "State of the Union" or show up on Late Night with David Letterman every once in a while.

Come on people. Governemnts have been born and died, do we honestly think ours is so much better. No one, especially not I, will force you but in the rise and fall of political dynasties, one power has outlasted them all: God.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Sociology of Disaster Response: More complicated than it appears

It is what I do. My research interest is the psychosocial elements of disaster preparation, impact and response. This news story, although not an indepth exploration of the phenomenon, does a nice job of showing one sociological element of current disaster response. Are we helping or are we hurting? The same Hypocratic question that lurks in the back of medical doctors should also guide our social and political policies.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Political Correctness is disgusting and it is going to get someone killed

We are so damned sensitized not to offend anyone that we cannot speak the logical or the obvious truth. Let me ask one question that is so obvious that 95% of Elementary school children would get it right: In the past 10 years, what group (ideology, country, etc.) is most likely to be responsible for carrying out a terrorist attack against the United States?

The answer is so bloody obvious (please excuse my use of British slang but it is better than the "French" or other vulgarity I'm fighting to control): Radical Islam (specifically, various factions of)!

So why is it that when a car bomb is discovered in Time Square in the heart of New York City, Mayor Bloomberg's visceral response is to speculate that the perpetrator was a disgrunteled white American male with political motives (a conservative or anti-Obamacare motive to be specific)! I am so tired of the accusations against the supposed anger and sedition exhibited by those with conservative political and moral ideology. These assertions are fabrications. If they are not, show me the large scale violence that corresponds with the supposed large scale anger.

What scares the hell out of me (again, pardon my use of Biblical jargon) is a knee jerk reaction that not only ignores the obvious realities of our time but moves in the opposite direction because we are afraid... and this from our leaders.

Here is Mayor Bloomberg (to CBS News Anchor Katie Couric):
"If I had to guess 25 cents, this would be exactly that. Homegrown, or maybe a mentally deranged person, or somebody with a political agenda that doesn't like the health care bill or something. It could be anything."

The Mayor's perspective is not isolated but seems to be adopted by more and more political commentators. Read more:

"A Connecticut Taliban in Bloomberg's Court?," by Robert Dreyfuss in The Nation, May 3:

It may be that the Pakistan-based Taliban, the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has quietly established a Connecticut franchise while we weren't looking. That's possible. But it seems far more likely to me that the perpetrator of the bungled Times Square bomb plot was either a lone wolf or a member of some squirrely branch of the Tea Party, anti-government far right. Which actually exists in Connecticut, where, it seems, the car's licence plates were stolen. [...]
Sensible analysts of the event point out, convincingly, that no branch of the Taliban, whether in Afghanistan or Pakistan, has demonstrated either the intention or the capability of striking in such as fashion. And the fact that the suspect, videotaped, is a white male in his 40s, hasn't deterred our vast team of terrorism talking heads from describing the operation as part of the jihad. Of course, it could be that some offshoot of the jihadist movement recruited a white bread American to do its bidding, and it could be that the man shown in the videotape is not the culprit at all.

But, as in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, when self-appointed experts blamed Muslims only to find out that it was a Gulf war veteran named Tim who did it, there has once again been an unseemly rush to judgment.

The Wall Street Journal is already editorialising in favour of stepped up racial profiling to catch evil doers, even though - in this case - such profiling would have more profitably sought out the editors of the Journal, who are mostly white men in their 40s...

Well Mr. Dryfuss, who is stereotyping and racially profiling now (yes, profiling by race can actually apply to white men as well)? Looks like you were wrong. And while Tim McVeigh was the author of a horrible terrorist act against the United States, please provide evidence of any kind that he was representing the common sentiment of the conservative movement. Is it too difficult to draw a distinction between a single lunatic wacko and millions of adhearants to an ideology who share a committment whereby they would not hesitate to take their own lives while killing hundreds or thousands of innocents? The American people --the vast majority of whom are decent, not racists, kind and well grounded due to a solid foundation in Judeo-Christian values-- deserve an apology for your cynical and erroneous estimation of them.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Saturday Enlightenment: Actions Matter (Prager Univ., Vol. 6)

Enjoy another five minute session that will cause some thought and inform your worldview: