Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Table Tennis

Currently, my vision of politics in America (and really, most of the world) goes something like this: Table tennis. You know, those really amazing Chinese player where the ball is going back and forth at a million miles an hour?

Left/Liberal/Democrat is one player, Right/Conservative/Republican is the other player. A few people are cheering and hollering for one player or the other other, but most of us are just eyeing the ball back and forth, back and forth. Issues bounce around meaninglessly at high speeds and both players just continue to volley. Nothing is really being accomplished.

Meanwhile, the corporations are not only paying the salaries of the players, but making sure there is a steady supply of ping pong balls coming in and an unending flow of light beer for the patrons in the stands.

Time to start realizing that the game has no end and the players are there to distract us from the men behind the curtain.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Question of Liberty

So, there's been a ton of things going on in the news and I haven't commented here much. I've had diarrhea of the mouth over HuffPost, but they've mostly been one off comments and intentionally starting arguments with those people that flag wave their stupidity.

But there's been an underlying current I've realized to a lot of what has caught my attention. It's as though I'm subconsciously drawn to news items and conversations that end up boiling down to a similar point and I can't seem to escape that point.

It's liberty. It's all about liberty. I'm a pop science fan, I admit. I have no real science skills, but I love reading or listening to Hawking and Tyson and Sagan and Kaku. But part of the reason that I'm so fascinated with it is because we have the consciousness to be able to try to step outside our own little bubble and look at our universe as objectively as we can. This ability, this wonderful gift is also a curse; our individuality separates us from others, permanently tethering us from the people and things we love the most.

To me, there is nothing more essential or basic to human beings than our ability to think, choose, wonder, dream and act. They might seem like separate things, but I think they are all aspects of liberty. They are the expressions of our consciousness and are vital.

When it comes to liberty, there's nothing better we can do as a species than not only express it, but encourage it in others. I'm not referring to the political definition of the word. This isn't about 'liberating' Afghanistan. I'm also not talking about some stoner utopia of laying around on a couch watching cartoons. I mean liberty in the sense that we dream, wonder, think, choose and act in a very conscious fashion and that we can do so in a way that encourages others to do the same thing.

Liberty has enemies - certitude, dogma, laziness, greed, fear. They end up being expressed through government, religion and other systems that offer protection in exchange for obedience. Make no mistake though, the only true crime that exists, the only one that matters, is violating someone else's liberty. When you take away their ability to choose, to wonder, to act, you've diminished yourself and them in a way that can never be atoned for. That moment is gone.

In theory, the idea of government should be a group of people who collectively choose to give up some liberty in exchange for other factors that ultimately benefit all involved. The problem with government though is that we are born into them and there is now nowhere on Earth where we are not subjected to them. It's not a voluntary proposition. We only have the choice of which government might closest suit us.

When it comes to religion, the story is not much different. Most of us are born into the religions of our parents and communities. The idea of being uninitiated to any religion and then coming to one because it calls you is almost unheard of. Very few people stray from their original beliefs and even fewer escape the moral trappings of the religions of their youth, even if they cease going to the church, mosque or temple. One of the most essential aspects of freedom of religion is the least cultivated: freedom *from* religion.

In a perfect world, we would all be 100% free, free to even choose to give up some freedoms. But the reality is we are not born free - we are born into servitude and must fight for freedom. Some of us might be fighting for our lives, others for our 'souls', but I promise you, there isn't a person alive today that isn't straining under the yoke of someone or something.

The reason I've written all of this is that I'm trying very hard to see my life, the world around me, the universe, all with the same lens. I think it's important to have some kind of view or structure that applies universally - like the much sought after 'unified theory' in physics. I loathe inconsistencies, hypocrisies, because in them are born the justifications for impeding Liberty.

So, with all of that, I've got a template to start examining the world around me in fine detail. I'd like to think that most of thoughts and feelings on topics already bear up to my 'liberty' scrutiny. But we will see.