Somewhere, between ten years ago and yesterday,
I started to lose my life
I don’t know exactly when or why
But it was a long journey that ended today
There must have been a day like the day before it
Where a little sliver fell away
Then another fell, then two, three, five, and eight
And then one day when the death spiral began
Thirteen fell …
It was a painless loss because It happened so
I want to get it back the way I lost it
Slowly, nearly imperceptibly
I want to be pleasantly surprised at its return
So it feels like it was almost never gone.
During a recent grad school class, I had occasion to explain what the Socratic Method is.
Please let me explain the Socratic Method. A few millenia ago, this brilliant kid named Socrates asked my Jewish great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother Channa why he was not being effective as a teacher. She said, “Socrates, stop kvetching and don’t be such a maven all the time. All you do is tell everybody everything. They know more than you give them credit for. Ask them questions and let them come up with the answers. From now on, no more telling, just asking. Ferschtay-zie?” Socrates thought for a moment and said, “Bubbe Channa, so is it better for a guy with all the answers to ask all the questions?” She looked him in the eye and said, “what do you think?” The rest is history.
Socrates said “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I’ve taken some time to be alone, in quiet, and examine what I believe. Some of these are theological, some philosophical, and others are political. They are in no particular order and may not be comprehensive. These are right for me. You may feel differently and I’d love to civilly and respectfully discuss those differences. Here is the result of my self-examination of what I stand for. These things are an integrated unit so if you are interested, read them all first and then we should talk. I believe…
1. In the active participation of God in the world He created.
2. That God is knowable within the limits of human understanding.
3. That God is eternal, having always been and will always be.
4. All human life is to be completely protected from the moment it has a unique set of genes until it dies, even if the existence of that life is inconvenient or unwanted.
5. The earth is our home and we must use it responsibly and with a vision to preserve it while being able to enjoy it fully and so future generations will have that enjoyment as well.
6. In an America where the basics of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are the rule.
7. The law of the land is to be subject to the Constitution as it was originally intended by those who wrote it.
8. That as we have grown in our understanding the inherent equality of all people and the liberties due to them, the amending of the Constitution was necessary and within the view of the framers of it.
9. The Constitution is not dynamic. If the people believe there is a deficiency in the Constitution it must be amended, not reinterpreted.
10. Private citizens and the state and federal governments should seek to live with as little debt as absolutely possible and live within their means.
11. To enjoy the inherent rights due to Americans, people must either be citizens, legally pursuing citizenship, or working in this country with appropriate permission.
12. The role the judicial system is to decide on conformance to the law, not to create, modify, or do away with laws.
13. That people who are capable of discerning what is right are accountable for their actions.
14. When people have violated the law they must be proportionately and uniformly deprived of their liberty after having been informed of their violation and convicted by a jury of their peers. When their debts are paid they must be freed and reintegrated into society.
15. Trust is earned and not deserved.
16. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Because of that, education of history must be how it really happened, not how we wish it had happened, even if it was embarrassing.
17. Nobody is privileged above anyone else.
18. When incontrovertible evidence exists, accountable people that have permanently removed people’s rights by depriving them of their lives with premeditation deserve to lose their lives.
19. The role of the legislature, both federal and state, is to make sure necessary laws exist to provide for the preservation of all people’s constitutional rights.
20. That I am entitled to practice my beliefs as are all others as long as the practice of those beliefs does not violate the rights granted to all Americans by the Constitution or as established in public law.
21. All people have a right to believe in their understanding of God, even if that belief is that there is none.
22. A free market is the best way to encourage innovation and promote prosperity.
23. Government is to serve the people at the pleasure of the people and to ensure that their constitutional rights are not violated. It should only be as large as needed to do that.
24. Legislators are obligated to personally read page of every resolution they vote on and to confirm that reading under oath or affirmation.
25. The law must be understandable by and be available to the general public.
26. The states have the right to self-government to the point where they either interact with each other, they come under the jurisdiction of the federal government, or when they attempt to enact laws that violate the rights of those protected by the Constitution.
27. Dogma and ignorance are dangerous. We should know what we believe and why we believe it.
28. People, in order to know their rights, must make themselves aware of them.
29. Philanthropy, while not required, should be encouraged. A society is most noble when people willingly share their resources of time and money.
30. The press is responsible to report the news, not create it. Conjecture and unverified information are gossip, not news. Commentary is one person’s opinion, not news.
31. The exchange of ideas is essential to a thriving society.
32. Being a government leader is a privilege that people that may occasionally step into and then return to private life in the midst of their constituents to maintain an understanding of their situation.
33. Our nation is a mosaic, not a melting pot.
34. The freedom of thought and the right to publish that thought must be supported, even if it is repugnant to others. Only actions contrary to the law that grow from those thoughts may be punished or restricted.
35. The practice of civility is extremely important to society and it includes civil disobedience.
36. In the sovereignty of nations and their right to exercise it. We are not the world’s police force nor its conscience.
37. We are to respect our leaders, even if we don’t agree with them.
38. If those who lead us fail to serve us legally, we have the right to require and execute a vote of confidence, even before the end of their terms.
39. The national military has one and only one purpose. That is, provide for the common defense of the nation. Our defense must be robust enough to deal with all threats in a swift and decisive manner. It is not in our prerogative to invade other nations unless it is expressly for the rescue and recovery of American citizens or the direct and proportionate reponse to aggression against out nation.
40. Sacrifice is the ultimate manifestation love and it was embodied by Jesus Christ through His life and death for the purpose of bridging the gap between God and humanity.
41. We have a responsibility to educate our children as locally as possible. That means education should be provided in the home, in the towns, and in the counties and that taxes must be structured to support that.
42. Tax should be levied in proportion to income at the same rate for all people.
43. God will ultimately turn our world into His literal kingdom and He will rule over us in our midst as our King.
44. All people are accountable in eternity to God regardless of belief or lack of belief in God.
45. This world will ultimately be changed to a place where no tears are shed and there is no death and war.
46. We exist to glorify God and enjoy God forever.
47. The simplest understanding of what God requires of us is to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.
48. Just because we can do a thing does not mean we should do a thing.
49. There is one and only one human race. We have many ethnicities and phenotypes that determine what we look like, not what kind of people we are.
50. War is always awful. Sometimes it is necessary. It should always be ended as soon as possible.
51. Justice should be swift. People should not languish in jail awaiting a trial.
52. If it’s legal and you don’t like it then don’t do it. If you think it’s wrong that it’s legal then work to have the law changed.
53. Believing in absolutes does not make someone narrow-minded.
54. Discrimination is always wrong thus discernment is always necessary.
55. In order for justice to be served, punishments must fit crimes. The punishment must also be in line with the permanence of the harm done. Rape, murder, and child molestation have life-long impacts that must be punished with the highest degree of serevity because the affects of them are so indelible.
56. Our nation is a pluralistic nation, not a secular one. There is always room for people to express and practice their beliefs and philosophies. The only power the government has in regard to this is to ensure that all people having a particular faith keep the freedom to practice it without showing preference to any faith or philosophy.
57. The rights to speak and assemble freely require people to respect those rights in others, even if they don’t agree with them. E.g., I believe in God and although I may do so freely, speak my beliefs freely, and assemble with others having common beliefs freely, it would be completely inappropriate, and even wrong, if I were to walk into an assembly of humanists and shout them down because in doing so, I am denying them of the uninhibited exercise of their rights to speak and assemble freely.
58. Members of the American military must never answer to the command of officers of any nation but ours.
59. The government, both state and federal, has no jurisdiction when it comes to allowing, restricting, or defining the marriage of two consenting, responsible adults.
60. All taxpaying citizens that are married should enjoy the benefits their taxes provide for each other at the state and federal levels, period.
61. Habeas corpus is the right of all people that are under the authority of the government, either by citizenship or by arrest by agents of the government. The suspension of habeas corpus must only be as brief as possible and as locally as possible to deal with the frenzy of war and must then be reinstituted as soon as possible. Furthermore, during periods where it is suspended, regular congressional review of the continued need for that suspension must be conducted.
62. Violating the civil rights of American citizens is not acceptable to enforce the law. Exceptional situations must always be dealt with by the issuance of a proper warrant even if it means that a judge must be inconvenienced to grant such a warrant.
63. As a signer of the four Geneva Conventions the United States is obligated to act in accordance with them even when our enemies do not.
64. The government has no business dictating what I put into my body.
65. The governor of each state has the responsibility to establish an armed militia that may be called upon to temporarily ensure that the civil rights of that state’s residents are not violated. Thus, the right of people to own and bear arms must be preserved.
66. The practice of eminent domain is wrong, all the time, every time.
67. The government may not own, establish, or control a business in the private sector. Necessary interstate public services such as the postal service should be paid for directly by those using the service when they use the service.
68. Taxes, tolls, fees, and fines are to be used only for the services related to them.
69. The government has no jurisdiction over intra-state commerce.
70. The government must be subject to its own laws to include fair hiring practices and anti-trust.
71. All government agencies must be subject to public and independent audits on a regular basis.
72. Any presidential appointee must be subject to congressional review and approval.