Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Protecting from mistakes misguided

Protecting from mistakes misguided

(My Clovis News Journal column for December 12, 2014)

Human beings will always make mistakes.

It would be nice to protect people from mistakes, but that desire is often misguided. You can warn people; some might even listen. Some won't and you'll watch as they suffer consequences. Some mistakes will be fatal. That's reality, and there's no way you can change it, no matter how tightly you try to control the world.

You might make up rules to forbid others from doing things you believe would be mistakes. This is also a mistake. People don't learn by being told what not to do. In fact, your efforts will probably encourage irresponsibility, and make mistakes more tragic. In spite of the wishful thinking at the foundation of all politics, you can't live other people's lives for them- you can only live your own.

No one is immune to mistakes. I know I have squandered opportunities, taken the wrong path, and made the wrong choice many times. It happens less frequently as I learn from past mistakes, and it doesn't mean mistakes from long ago don't still have ongoing consequences.

People learn because mistakes have consequences. You may think that sounds cruel, but isn't it worse to ensure a person never has the opportunity to learn? Go ahead, try to save those you see making a fatal mistake, but remember: they'll probably learn nothing from the experience and you won't always be around.

I can't tell you how many times I told my daughter the stove top was hot, but I do know it only took one time touching it for her to learn and remember.

Even worse than making your own mistakes is forcing those who know better to go along for the ride. It's really bad when you drag people with you. Those who know better should be able to stand aside and let you go over the cliff if you can't be talked out of it. Forcing them to join you is not civilized.

Then again, what one person considers to be a mistake, someone else might consider the goal, and forbidding them to pursue it could be wrong. This is why no one should have the power to run the lives of others. After all, you never really know how the future will unfold, and preventing someone from doing something which might turn out to have been the right thing should overwhelm you with just as much guilt as sitting by and watching someone get hurt by their mistakes.

Give your best advice, if it is welcomed, then it's up to the other person to accept it or reject it, and it's then your responsibility to get out of their way.

Muslim terrorists are a symptom, not the problem

(Published 1-9-2015 on Patreon)

It's the act that matters, not the excuse someone uses for committing the act.

I don't care if your excuse is Islam, Christianity, nationalism, drugs, enforcing the law, or insanity- if you harm the innocent or violate their property (in other words: commit evil) you are a bad guy and I hope your next victim blows your brains out in self defense. I'd wish this to happen every single time.

I hate Islam as much as anyone, but the Charlie Hebdo murders have brought the non-thinking anti-Islam wackos out in force. People willing to excuse and justify all sorts of evil, as long as it is committed in the name of something they like, are losing their minds because some other wackos committed evil in the name of something "alien".

If your belief system requires you to use the State and its "laws" to impose your ideals on people who don't share them, your belief system is worthless crap. If your belief system encourages you to use threats of violence to convert others, then - again- worthless crap. It doesn't matter what is behind your belief system. If it can't compete on a voluntary basis, but relies on coercion, it needs to die out.

To say that Christian theocrats are somehow morally or ideologically "better" than their Islam theocrat brethren is ignoring what has historically happened anytime either group gets too much political power.  

The big problem, of course, is establishing a State which can be controlled by anyone with an agenda. Without a State to use to impose their beliefs, they would not be able to hide the evil nature of their acts behind "laws" or "democracy" or whatever they use. They would still have "God/Allah says..." but any attack would be laid bare and could be defended against without becoming a "criminal".  

You may claim "a State is only a tool; like a gun", but that's missing the fact that guns can be used defensively, and other people aren't forced to provide you with a gun or pay for your ammo, nor take the blame if you use your gun offensively- well, except for by anti-gun, anti-liberty bigots, but those people are crazy and stupid. States are always offensive- from how they are established, to how they are financed and how they are maintained.  

To leave a government lying around is like leaving a loaded and ready full-auto pistol in the daycare center's toy box, just waiting for someone to pick it up and use it irresponsibly. There is no way to use a State responsibly without it ceasing to be a State.  

Theocrats of any stripe are like oversized preschoolers. Ready to pick up the State and aim it randomly at anyone else. Until you can condemn them all for the fundamental evil they advocate, rather than focusing on the differences in degree- which are fluid- you'll be aiding and abetting them all. After all, if it's OK in some cases, it could be argued to be OK in all cases.

The problem is aggression, not the justifications for using it.