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Thursday, August 16, 2012

On Life, Death, Liberty and Why What I Don't Know Causes Me To Reject Both Liberalism and Conservatism

A Few Quotes to Ponder

A person who was way smarter than I could ever dream of being once told me, "asking man to describe God is like asking a computer to describe the engineer who designed it."

Another guy, Stephen Hawking, who is way smarter than the guy who was way smarter than me, wrote in A Brief History of Time, "The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge."

Then of course, that bastion of actual fascism and evil, Adolph Hitler, was quoted as saying, "What good fortune for governments that the people do not think." These words, coming out of Hitler's mouth, caught my attention.

The Part Where I Am Self-Indulgent In Order to Set Up My Point

I have stood in the face of personal death three times in my life, once after falling off a boat during a squall with no life jacket, once fifty feet away from a tree that got obliterated by lightning on a golf course, and once while the business end of a shotgun was pointed at me while being pumped as an argument over drugs and 8-Track tapes I was an unfortunate bystander to got a little out of hand.

I have also buried my parents, both of my brothers, my best childhood friend, too many relatives to count without losing track through the sorrow, and the very best dog that ever lived, in a snowstorm when I was twelve.

My Point

Okay, now that I've gotten you completely confused and probably a little sniffly over the dog in the snowstorm, let me get to my point: I've been on the planet for five decades, I've lived a lot of life, I've made enemies and I've retained friendships for scores of years. I've read enough books to qualify as a bona fide nerd. I've been married, divorced, unemployed, broke, married, not-very-broke, and comfortable. I've also been skinny, fat, reasonable, lonely and over-whelmed by the kindness of others. Like you, the first person who touched me when I arrived on this planet was a stranger, and like you, the last person who will touch me when I leave this planet will be stranger. Through it all I've come to the conclusion that I really don't know anything -- at all.

Except that the three quotes I started this piece with are true.

Here's a bunch of other things I don't know:
  • What's the Big Idea?
  • What's my purpose
  • Who the hell I am
  • Why the hell I'm here in the first place
  • How this all came about
If I don't know that stuff about myself, how the hell can I be expected to know anything about you?

Therefore, I can conclude that I also don't know:
  • How you should manage your life
  • What makes you happy
  • What's best for you
Here's some things I do know:
  • The only things that matter are the non-strangers in your life between the time you arrive at birth and the time you check out at death
  • Society functions like this: People don't cross the center line of the road while driving in order to protect themselves from pain and as an attempt not to inflict pain on others. The people who do cross the center line and kill themselves or other people, are going to do so whether crossing the center line is illegal or not
  • Waging war for a reason other than an immediate threat to our security is wrong
  • Governments and religions start wars, people just want to work and grab a beer at quitting time
  • Killing another person, whether it's because you had sex and now you're worried about how the result will impact your future, or because a jury of your peers found you guilty of murdering someone else, is wrong
  • Compelling one person to sacrifice a portion of their personal property for the benefit of another is wrong
  • Compelling a society to pay your medical bills because you were uninsured and helmetless when you ran your motorcycle into a truck, or any other dependence on others to correct your mistakes, is wrong
  • Telling another person who you can love is wrong
  • Telling me I must do as you say because of your politics wrong
  • Telling me I am stupid because I view life differently from you is wrong
  • Telling another person they are to be damned, or killed, or scorned, because of how they choose to pray, or not pray, is wrong
  • There is one race, and we're all a part of it
  • Infringing on your rights when you have not affected my personal safety or ability to pursue a peaceful existence, is wrong

Why What I Don't Know Forces Me To Pick the Lesser of Three Evils

So there you have it. The things I know are sort of abstract, filled with what used to be called common-sense, and fairly simple to comprehend. The things I don't know are even more abstract, devoid of common-sense and almost impossible to comprehend.

I don't know enough to be a Democrat or a Republican because I am simply not more capable of running your life than you are.

All of this being said, I will be voting Republican this November for the following reasons:
  • The Libertarian Party has got it wrong...they should be working to change the system as it currently exists from the inside, not as a fringe element in the national discourse
  • The Democrat Party is filled with power-mad career politicians who prey on the ignorance of its base in order to maintain a state of socialism
  • The Republican Party, filled with power-mad career politicians who prey on the fears of its base in order to maintain a state of semi-socialism, is at least open to the idea of reading the Constitution occasionally, and regardless of what Justice Ginsberg says, humankind -- in all of its existence -- has not created a document that even comes close to the Constitution of the United States when it comes to protecting the rights of the individual
So there you have it, my ignorance will guide my voting decision. The difference between me and the vast majority of people who will vote this November is that I acknowledge my ignorance.

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