BADGERING OUR LEADERS FOR GOOD GOVERNMENT

It happens every day. Politicians take our money, and then, after they already have our money, they tell what we will get for our money. Whether what we get for our money has anything to do with what we want depends upon our persistence in badgering our leaders.

badgering

n : the act of harassing someone [syn: worrying, torment, bedevilment]

Does that seem like a joke? Then consider this parable.

Luke 18:1-8 Good News Translation (GNT)

The Parable of the Widow and the Judge

18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to teach them that they should always pray and never become discouraged. 2 “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected people. 3 And there was a widow in that same town who kept coming to him and pleading for her rights, saying, ‘Help me against my opponent!’ 4 For a long time the judge refused to act, but at last he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or respect people, 5 yet because of all the trouble this widow is giving me, I will see to it that she gets her rights. If I don’t, she will keep on coming and finally wear me out!’”

6 And the Lord continued, “Listen to what that corrupt judge said. 7 Now, will God not judge in favor of his own people who cry to him day and night for help? Will he be slow to help them? 8 I tell you, he will judge in their favor and do it quickly. But will the Son of Man find faith on earth when he comes?”

As the Bible attests, God listens to our prayers, but getting what we want out of leaders is age-old problem.

Want a modern example, one relevant to our local area? Then consider this story at Bristow Beat.

Stone Haven Development Could Bring New High School To Western PWC

One of the residents’ greatest concerns with residential growth throughout western Prince William County is how county services can keep pace with the increasing population.

In a presentation to the Prince William County Board of Supervisors on Nov. 27. Planning Office Director Chris Price, presented the planning study for the Stone Haven Development, where he acknowledged the need  for new schools and praised the high level of community involvement in the pre-planning process. (continued here)

The Bristow Beat story is not badly written. The reporter is not trying to mislead. Nonetheless, the reporter neglects pertinent details. For example, even if development company that wants to build Stone Haven development actually did pay for a new high school (and it will not), that new high school would take about five years to build. With all the red tape, our government is that slow.

So what happens if the Prince William Board of County Supervisors (BOCS) approves the Stone Haven development? Depending upon whether our economy collapses first, we will get a big new development, the BOCS will get more money to spend, but nobody really knows when or whether we will get a new high school.

In fact, the Bristow Beat published this story the next day.

Tax Cuts Threaten PWCS Specialty Programs, Sports

In a presentation to the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, School Board Chairman-At-Large Milt Johns stated that budget cuts proposed by Chairman-At-Large Corey Stewart’s flat tax bill, might forces the school division to eliminate popular programs and delay funding of new schools.

“An additional 12 million dollar cut in the funding that we are receiving, I believe, will significantly change the education system that we deliver to the citizens,” Johns said. (continued here)

So how should we assess the situation? The PWC Education Reform Blog provides an interesting and detailed post here.

Stonehaven Development and “Getting” a High School

Several days ago Planning Office Director Chris Price presented the recommendation for development of the Stonehaven property in the Gainesville / Bristow area.  The proposal from county staff was to reduce the amount of land in that parcel that was to be dedicated to employment centers and increase the number of houses to be built there from about 1200 to 2000.  During the presentation it was implied that this would be a good thing for area residents as we’d “get” a much needed high school that would relieve overcrowding at Patriot and Battlefield high schools.

This folks, is malarkey. (continued here)

This absurd situation is, of course, directly due to the fact we put politicians in charge of the education of our children. Since they already have our money, we have to persuade our leaders to spend it appropriately. How did we ever get in this situation? They conned us. They told us education is a “right.” In addition, they told us they would spend somebody else’s money to pay for the education of our children.

So now all we can do is badger them. We just have to figure out what for. Will it be easier to badger our county supervisors not to approve the Stone Haven development, or will it be easier to badger our county supervisors to build new schools (including elementary and middle schools) after they have approved the Stone Haven development and added to our student population?

THE THIRD FEAR

As I understood it, there are two fears.

  • God does not exist.
  • God exists.

However, sean samis remind me (here) of a third fear.

  • God exists, but is not good.

I imagine that third fear explains our reluctance to speak of Hell. Why does something as horrible as Hell exist? What do you tell your child?

Thoughts On Hell, Sin, Grace, Works

by Mark Knox, author of Notes from the Crossroads

I was raised by a United Methodist minister and so, while my father saw to it that theological matters were frequently the topic of discussion (and debate) within our home, the topic of hell rarely came up. Methodists are often known for their outspoken position on many subjects but hellfire and brimstone is not one of them.

Imagine my discomfort, then, when recently my eleven year old earnestly asked me for my thoughts on hell. I knew there was much more hanging in the balance of her question than I was equipped to answer on 30 seconds’ notice, and so I did the only prudent thing I could think of – I asked her for some time to think it over. (continued here)

THE DEBATE OVER CHRISTIANITY, OBJECTIVISM, AND ALTRUISM CONTINUES

What follows is part of a series on Objectivism I had no plans to write. I think Ayn Rand ideas interesting and her books entertaining, but I never intended to post much on Objectivism. However, I respond to comments, and Objectivism is what some of my commenters wanted to hear about. So here is a list of the earlier posts.

The Latest Comment

The latest comment driving this series came from  John Donohue

Your paragraph “Is Objectivism A Rational Moral Philosophy” contains at least four inaccuracies about Objectivists’ and Ayn Rand’s thought, which taken together amount to evidence you have either not understood it or choose to not fairly make its case preparatory to criticizing it.

I will only address the primary fault, one that subsumes the others: “…Communism, it is not altruism. What is altruistic about throwing tens of millions of one’s own countrymen into gulags and working them to death?”

Ayn Rand, and decades of Objectivist thinkers, thoroughly and exhaustively point out that the root of ethical altruism is not “general benevolence and helping,” but rather “living for others.” In the first place, you will hopefully discover that Rand has no quarrel with individuals voluntarily aiding others on any level of “need,” as long as it does not damage pursuit and respect for ones chosen responsibilities and purpose in life. Second, when ethical altruism (living for others) switches into political altruism, it becomes indeed the driver of Communism, Fascism, Theocracy and all other forms of tyranny. Colloquially: “live for others and if you refuse to do so, the state will put you under compulsion to do so.”

The primary text for getting clear on Ayn Rand’s position on altruism is “The Virtue of Selfishness.” Naturally you are free to dispute Rand’s ethical philosophy, but you are shooting at phantoms if your target is not squared fairly against that book.

An interesting outside discussion that goes right to the heart of “altruism as self-immolation and political tyranny” vs “general benevolence” is a response to a thinker who made similar claims that you make. The link below contains the response, and uncovers the original meaning and still-potent concept of altruism by the thinker who originated the word.

http://hubcap.clemson.edu/~campber/altruismrandcomte.pdf

(from here)

A Bit Of Humor

I have never much cared for the term “altruism.” Did I know how it was coined? No. Can I explain why I did not like the term? Not really, but I would like to believe I disliked the term because of the way people use it. Consider this bit of humor from the Online Etymology Dictionary (see altruism).

There is a fable that when the badger had been stung all over by bees, a bear consoled him by a rhapsodic account of how he himself had just breakfasted on their honey. The badger replied peevishly, “The stings are in my flesh, and the sweetness is on your muzzle.” The bear, it is said, was surprised at the badger’s want of altruism. [“George Eliot,” “Theophrastus Such,” 1879]

A Rebuttal

Let’s get to the point. Does Donohue’s complaint have a basis in fact? Have I mischaracterized what Ayn Rand said about altruism? In spite of how word “altruism” was coined, I don’t think so.

Here is the definition we ordinarily use for “altruism.”

altruism n :

the quality of unselfish concern for the welfare of others
[syn: selflessness] [ant: egoism]

Here is the  more extreme definition for the term “altruism” used by Rand.

What is the moral code of altruism?  The basic principle of altruism is that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value. (continued here)

Few today would associate altruism with the definition used by Rand. Nonetheless, the term altruism does have a dubious history. As Donohue observed, Auguste Comte (19 January 1798 – 5 September 1857) coined the term altruism (Here is what Wikipedia has to say about altruism.). Comte tried to start his own religion, the Religion of Humanity. Comte’s religion involved the worship of humanity, and altruism served as one of its key tenets. Thus, Comte coined the term “altruism” with the more extreme definition. Apparently, however, the public has watered down the definition to something more reasonable.

The Difference Between Altruism And A Lie

Note that Comte defined altruism in the context of a belief system the deifies humanity. Then consider Donohue’s complaint.

when ethical altruism (living for others) switches into political altruism, it becomes indeed the driver of Communism, Fascism, Theocracy and all other forms of tyranny. Colloquially: “live for others and if you refuse to do so, the state will put you under compulsion to do so.”

What Communism, Fascism, and autocratic Theocratic religions all involve is the worship of man by man. Such systems insist upon “altruism” because the individual is by definition either subordinate to the great collective or to the great leader.

When we as a people speak of altruism, we each put our own altruism in the context of our love for our fellow man. When we speak of altruistic behavior, we speak of a voluntary sacrifice. Consider an example. If they knew the origin of the term”altruism,” can you imagine the folks who wrote this article, The Problem of Goodness, using the term?

By insisting upon a government role and tempting us with promises of wealth from the rich or the enemies of the state, political leaders pervert the voluntary nature of true charity or altruism. Thus, we end up with Communism, Fascism, Theocracy and other forms of tyranny that are supposedly based upon altruism. In reality, such systems are simply abuses of power justified by a lie. In his fable about The Wolf and the Lamb, Aesop explained the technique long ago.

The Christian Attitude

What is the Christian attitude towards altruism. For the most part, I provided my opinion in the previous posts. However, the Catholic Encyclopedia (which significantly predates Ayn Rand) has a good article on the subject, Altruism. Naturally, the article notes the defects of Comte’s religion.

Here is what Catholicism or (Christianity in general) teaches about love.

The Catholic teaching on love of others is summed up in the precept of Christ: Love they neighbour as thyself. The love due to oneself is the exemplar of the love due to others, though not the measure of it. Disinterested love of others, or the love of benevolence, the outward expression of which is beneficence, implies a union proximately based on likeness. All men are alike in this that they partake of the same rational nature made to the image and likeness of their Creator; have by nature the same social aptitudes, inclinations, and needs; and are destined for the same final union with God by which the likeness receive through creation is perfected. By supernatural grace the natural likeness of man to man is exalted, changing fellowship into brotherhood. All likeness of whatever grade is founded ultimately in likeness with God. Love, therefore, whether of oneself or of others is in its last analysis love of God, by partaking of Whose perfections we become lovable. (from here)

All men are alike. That is, we were all made in the image of God. Because we are children of God, His creations, we are worthy of love, and the more Christlike we become, the more worthy we become.

For a contrast, check out another article, egoism, also in the Catholic Encyclopedia.

What Then Of Objectivism?

Because Objectivism, like Comte’s Religion of Humanity,  is a godless philosophy, it is an empty philosophy. Outside of man’s reason, it has no anchor. Man’s reason is no defense, not even against our own devices for tyranny.

So why would intelligent men and women gravitate to such a thing as Objectivism? I can only speak of my own experience. When I did not know Christ, I remember the pride. I had the courage — ME –to face a universe without God. The rest of men were sheep and cowards.

I looked at the universe, and I did not see God. I had seen a forest and missed the most significant detail. Just as a forest is filled with trees, God had filled the universe with the glory of His creations.

Yes! I had the courage to do without God. I ignored the fact of death. I ignored the parade of coffins, the slow, stately departure of everyone I have known. With masterful disdain I ignored the fact that after my last breath I will join the march, wrapped in metal box, buried deep, and slowly rotting.

Yet the Objectivist will say I now believe because I am afraid, and how will I object? Here is God’s answer. There are two fears.

  • God does not exist.
  • God exists.

Only the fear of God leads to the beginning of wisdom.

FINDING PEACE IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE 2012 ELECTION — PART 5

Onward, Christian Soldiers

Here is the last part of FINDING PEACE IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE 2012 ELECTION. I cannot offer a grand plan to defeat the Socialist Democrats, I have only two suggestions, that we read our Bibles and pray. What matters is God’s plan for you, not mine.

When we seek earthly guidance, we seek guidance that would pit us against earthly foes. In the Bible, the Apostle Paul points us to a spiritual enemy.

Ephesians 6:10-18 Good News Translation (GNT)

10 Finally, build up your strength in union with the Lord and by means of his mighty power. 11 Put on all the armor that God gives you, so that you will be able to stand up against the Devil’s evil tricks. 12 For we are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age. 13 So put on God’s armor now! Then when the evil day comes, you will be able to resist the enemy’s attacks; and after fighting to the end, you will still hold your ground.

14 So stand ready, with truth as a belt tight around your waist, with righteousness as your breastplate, 15 and as your shoes the readiness to announce the Good News of peace. 16 At all times carry faith as a shield; for with it you will be able to put out all the burning arrows shot by the Evil One. 17 And accept salvation as a helmet, and the word of God as the sword which the Spirit gives you. 18 Do all this in prayer, asking for God’s help. Pray on every occasion, as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray always for all God’s people.

A spiritual enemy? Is our battle unearthly? Did Paul want us to remove ourselves from the world? Did Jesus tell us to do such a thing? No. Jesus sends us into the world; He tells us to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (The Great Commission). To the best of our ability, we are to bring the Kingdom of God to the world. As Paul observed, although we are not saved by our own works, we have works to do.

Ephesians 2:8-10 Good News Translation (GNT)

8-9 For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift, so that no one can boast about it. 10 God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do.

Therefore, to do that which Christ Jesus prepared us to do, we each must strive for a society that permits us to freely share the message of the Gospel and to live life of good deeds. When those who choose to serve evil abuse the power of government and try enslave our fellow citizens, as Christians we must act to stop them. As Christians we must work to preserve a free society.

How then do we find peace? We will find it in the knowledge we have done what we could, but the victory belongs to God.

Psalm 60:12 Good News Translation (GNT)

With God on our side we will win;
he will defeat our enemies.

———————–

This is the last post in a five-part series.