INCOMPATIBLE VIEWS ON GOVERNMENT — PART 1

James Madison by John Vanderlyn, 1816 (from here)

Introducing The Subject

It is very difficult to understand another person’s point of view. It is actually difficult to comprehend our own point of view. Yet to live a satisfactory life we must try.

Consider the words of Socrates. For speaking his mind, the citizens of Athens  condemned him to death. What did Socrates desire for the citizens of Athens. He wanted them to be virtuous. He wanted them to think about what it means to be virtuous, but the citizens of Athens did not want to examine virtue too carefully. So they condemned Socrates. Here is how Socrates replied.

Some one will say: Yes, Socrates, but cannot you hold your tongue, and then you may go into a foreign city, and no one will interfere with you? Now I have great difficulty in making you understand my answer to this. For if I tell you that to do as you say would be a disobedience to the God, and therefore that I cannot hold my tongue, you will not believe that I am serious; and if I say again that daily to discourse about virtue, and of those other things about which you hear me examining myself and others, is the greatest good of man, and that the unexamined life is not worth living, you are still less likely to believe me. Yet I say what is true, although a thing of which it is hard for me to persuade you. (from APOLOGY By Plato translated by Benjamin Jowett)

James Madison, like Socrates, was a philosopher of sorts. Instead of balking at the prospect, he and many of his countrymen carefully examined the role of virtue in government. Instead of abhorring the prospect, he and his countrymen rebelled and tried something new. Instead of continuing to regard government as something God imposed upon the People through divinely appointed kings, Madison made the following observation.

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. (from here)

In a world dominated by authoritarian monarchs, Madison observed that angels did not governed men, that because men lacked the virtue of angels the power of government had to be limited. And so in The Federalist Papers Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay promoted the ratification of the United States Constitution.

In our era, we have nearly discarded the Constitution that Madison, Hamilton, and Jay promoted in The Federalist Papers. Therefore, the Federal Government has become a leviathan, an immense beast of fantastic proportions, totally unlike the limited government the founders envisioned. The realization that our rulers have nearly undone the Constitution has engendered a political war in this nation, but the nature of the war is mysterious to most of us. How so? We don’t actually understand the thinking of the other side. Conservatives don’t understand Democrat Liberals, and Democrat Liberals don’t understand Conservatives.

Would understanding the view point of other side help Conservatives to resolve the conflict? No and yes. It would seem that Conservatives have been trying to compromise with Democrat Liberals for years. What happens with each compromise? Democrat Liberals just start working on the next compromise to further enlarge their blessed leviathan. So what should we expect to gain by trying to understand the other side? We may understand something about the assumptions that Democrat Liberals make about government and the nature of man. We may understand why Democrats Liberals do not seem to have any intention of limiting the size and the power of government.

What Is To Come?

    • Questions For Democrat Liberals — PART 2A (May 21, 2017) and Questions For Democrat Liberals — PART 2B (May 23, 2017): The subject of this post is four questions. The first question is cover in PART 2A.
      1. Why is it moral for the government to tax us?
      2. When does it become immoral for the government to tax us? That is, where do you draw the line and say no more?
      3. How do we ensure that a government that runs our lives will exercise its power for our benefit and not someone else’s benefit?
      4. How big and powerful does the government have to be before the people have lost the ability to refuse it anything it wants?

      If Conservatives want to understand Conservatism, we need to answer those four questions, and we need to understand why Democrat Liberals think those questions are just dumb.

    • A Democrat Liberal’s Reply — PART 3: The subject of this post is how a Democrat Liberal defines virtue with respect to government. Did that Democrat Liberal answer those four questions? No.
    • Restoring Our Constitutional Republic — PART 3: Is there a way to resolve the conflict? No. However, if we are prepared to fight for it, we can slowly restore our constitutional republic.

WHEN WE INSTRUCT OUR CHILDREN IN HATRED

Battle of Jericho (biblical)
Depiction by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld (1794-1872) (from here)

Cal Thomas has a column that got me to thinking. Here is the key to that column.

Here’s the danger for President Trump. The Quran allows Muslims to lie to “nonbelievers” in pursuit of Islam’s goal of an earthly kingdom ruled by their religion.

An example occurred last week when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met at the White House with President Trump. Abbas said, “Mr. President, I affirm to you that we are raising our youth, our children and grandchildren, in a culture of peace.”

That is a flat-out lie, as even a cursory Google search or visit to the Palestinian Media Watch website proves.

Do the Palestinians instruct their children to detest non believers, even to lie to them and kill them? As Thomas said, it is easy enough to look up. Google Do Palestinians Teach Their Children to Hate? The mainstream press does not like to talk about it, but even The New York Times has occasionally carried a story. Here is one from 2013, To Shape Young Palestinians, Hamas Creates Its Own Textbooks. Apparently, Hamas was not satisfied with what it got from the Palestinian Authority.

Textbooks have long been a point of contention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in which dueling historical narratives and cultural clashes underpin a territorial fight. And they are central examples of what Israeli leaders call Palestinian “incitement” against Jews, held up as an obstacle to peace talks newly resumed under American pressure.

Beyond their take on Israel, the new texts are also a salvo in the war for influence between the rival Palestinian factions: Gaza-based Hamas and Fatah, which dominates the Palestinian Authority and the West Bank. They reflect a growing gulf between the 1.7 million Palestinians living in the densely populated Gaza Strip and the 2.5 million spread among the West Bank’s cities and villages. (from here)

How seriously should we take this sort of thing? We have an excellent point of reference, our own American Civil War. In the South, children grew up learning to approve of slavery. In the North, children grew up believing slavery wrong. Most in the North may have thought the Negro inferior, but they refrained from believing Negroes should be enslaved. Considering that the whites in the South did not want to enslave the whites in the North, the conflict that eventually ensued between the North and South grew extremely violent. One can only imagine what that war would have been like if all the people in the North had been Negroes.

So what does Christianity teach about race and culturally based hatred? This is a question that confuses many Christians.  In its May 4, 2017 broadcast, If God Is Good, How Could He Command Holy War?, Derek Thomas examined the issue for Renewing Your Mind. His subject was the Book of Joshua and the Holy War (or herem) God declared against the Canaanites. In the Book of Joshua, the Hebrews execute God’s command to move into the Holy Land and kill the Canaanites.

The Victory of Joshua over the Amalekites by Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665) (from here)

When we read the about the destruction of Jericho, we usually marvel at the miraculous collapse of the city’s walls, but what happened after that?

Joshua 6:15-21 New King James Version (NKJV)

15 But it came to pass on the seventh day that they rose early, about the dawning of the day, and marched around the city seven times in the same manner. On that day only they marched around the city seven times. 16 And the seventh time it happened, when the priests blew the trumpets, that Joshua said to the people: “Shout, for the Lord has given you the city! 17 Now the city shall be doomed by the Lord to destruction, it and all who are in it. Only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all who are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. 18 And you, by all means abstain from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. 19 But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the Lord; they shall come into the treasury of the Lord.”

20 So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. 21 And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword.

What does Derek Thomas point to in the Bible to justify utterly destroying all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword?

Genesis 15:16 New King James Version (NKJV)

16 But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.

God had decided iniquity of the Amorites was complete.  Because the answer is unsatisfying, Thomas grieves over this.  Yet Thomas did not finding the answer unsatisfying for the reason some might expect. When Thomas considered himself and the rest of us, sinners all, what is remarkable is that God has any mercy to spare for any of us.

There but for the grace of God, go I. — John Bradford (1510–1555) (from here)

We are not worthy of God’s grace, but we can choose to receive it. Fortunately, when Jesus died on the cross and rose on the third day, He established a new covenant. Instead of destroying unrepentant sinners, we now spread His Gospel.

So what about Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his lies? As best we can, we need to help the Palestinians understand the truth. The Allah that he and his fellow Muslims worship is an invented god.  What too many Muslims worship is war, not peace. Only with Jesus can have peace.

Gustave Doré, The Death of Agag. Agag was executed by Samuel as part of God’s command to put the Amalekites under herem (1 Samuel 15). (from here)

A PET PEEVE

United States Declaration of Independence (from here)

In response to a comment that irked me, I started to leave the following comment on a post I had enjoyed. Then I realized the pointlessness of picking on the author of that blog.

I enjoyed the post, but this comment touches upon a pet peeve. We Americans have a pronounced tendency to denigrate our fellow Americans. We love to say Americans have this failing or that failing. That strikes me as perverse, but it is what we have been taught to do. Yep! Other Americans — especially the masses — are so second-rate.

Why do we want to say such negative things about our own countrymen (Admittedly, I have done it. So I think I know)? When there are all sorts of Americans, who exactly are we talking about? When we denigrate our fellow Americans, what I think we are doing is denigrating a caricature, that thing of legend we call The Ugly American. And I think we do it in pride. We do it to prove our own outstanding tolerance by denigrating the intolerance of the stereotypical Ugly American. Yet is this not in fact a form of bias? Against our fellow Americans?

Sadly, when we denigrate our fellow Americans, we also denigrate Americanism, the philosophy that bound together the people who founded this country. For the sake of our children we need to step back and think about that. Should we be denigrating our own heritage?

When I look at the founding of our nation and the nature of our government, I see a people who once had a profound respect for the Bible and the God of the Bible. What I see tearing apart our country is not Americanism; it is Secularism. As Americans we have failed to pass on to our children the traditions of the people — the Christians — who risked all to found this nation.  Because we have given the matter so little thought, we are perverting our culture by slowly replacing our Christian heritage with a Secularist ideology that is replete with lies. Lies against any belief in God and against Christianity in particular.

Consider.  When first century Christians spread the Gospel, they engaged in a stubborn political as well as religious battle.  They actively spread the Gospel. At the same time they passively resisted the overwhelming power of the Roman Empire. Sometimes even at the cost of their lives they refused to worship the Emperor.

Those early Christians gave God’s authority in their lives precedence over the authority of government. This, giving God precedence over government, is Americanism. As the Declaration of Independence states, we have God-given, not government-given rights.

To whom do you give precedence in your life? Are you an American in the tradition that founded this nation, or are you a Secularist who denigrates the character of his fellow Americans? Think about it.

BECAUSE IT ISN’T LEGAL, IT IS IMMORAL

A flowering cannabis plant (from here)

I spent years in college dormitories during the 70’s.  At the end that period, I was not actually in a dorm. Instead I was in a two bedroom apartment. To deal with the overflow, the college put us up in an apartment complex and bused us to campus.  It did not take long before I saw my roommates taking advantage of the situation. After a pot party and waking up to find my roommate had a young woman in bed with him (two separated events), I decided to seek my own quarters. Why? I was not a Christian then, but I had been brought up as one. So that sort of behavior rankled. I liked my roommates, but I did not want to be forced to approve of blatantly bad behavior.

Could I have expressed my feelings back then? No. In fact, my thoughts were rather shallow.

  • I knew having sex with someone other than my wife was wrong, but all I thought of was the possibility of pregnancy and disease. I did not yet understand the importance or the significance of the two becoming one.
  • Smoking marijuana mostly struck me as foolish. It was not unusual to walk down a dorm hall and smell something that stank. Soon I figured out what that stink was, and then I had only one thought. People are inhaling that? I had watched what tobacco and alcohol had done to my father. So I wanted no part of a drug that combined the worst features of both, but I gave little thought of how such bad behavior might affect others.

Anyway, the focus here is on marijuana.  So how did — how does — the use of an illegal drug effect others? Well, I understand some people see nothing wrong with using marijuana. Supposedly, inhaling that reeking stench only puts thrill seekers temporarily and slightly out of their minds. Nonetheless, marijuana remains illegal, and that means that in addition to setting a bad example for the gullible (like college students), when we use marijuana and other illegal drugs we fund criminal networks.

Purchasing illegal drugs is an immoral act, regardless of where one stands in the legalization debate. When drugs are legally prohibited, criminal organizations assume control of production and distribution, making violence inherent in the process. Drug proceeds are used to fund criminal and terrorist organizations, enabling them to murder innocent people, attack police and military, bleed our tax dollars, and destroy the rule of law.

Drugs are a major source of income for terrorist groups and other criminal organizations, due to the high profit margins in these illegal markets. For example, one kilogram of heroin costs $2,500-$5,000 in Afghanistan and it sells for $60,000-$90,000 in the United States. That same kilogram is worth approximately $1.5 million after is it diluted and divided into individual dosage units. Profits made from illegal drug sales are also unreported income, allowing unlawful enterprises to remain in the shadows.

There is a strong nexus between drug trafficking and terrorism. According to DEA’s FY2016 Performance Budget Congressional Submission, 22 of 59 designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations had possible ties to drug trafficking. This number is probably low, because evidence is difficult to obtain, and it doesn’t address two recently designated terrorist groups. As an example, Afghanistan produces most of the world’s opium, morphine, and heroin. In Afghanistan, drug producers, traffickers, and transporters have deep connections to the Taliban, Haqqani network, and other terrorist groups. Drug traffickers use terrorists for protection and terrorists use drug traffickers to fund their activities. (from here)