Worldview: Rage participation is better than none at all

Let’s face it. Donald John Trump is turning out to be everything anyone who actually paid attention during the 2016 presidential election cycle thought he would be. He is now doing things people detest for reasons they detest and, in doing so, is upsetting the apple cart of the status quo in the federal government in ways people are infuriated by.

Yet, for all Trump’s flaws, this is exactly what our nation needs. We need to be uncomfortable. We need to have things to oppose. We need to be enraged. Because, in the end, that’s the only way to get anyone to participate anymore.

You see, American politics is and always has been a full contact sport, but during my lifetime, millions of Americans have either stopped participating altogether or have convinced themselves that participation involves nothing more than voting every couple of years.

With the election of Trump and all that entails, things have already changed. Suddenly, millions of people care. Their care spilled into the streets with protests. People are following news in ways they haven’t for decades. Opposition groups are forming outside the control of traditional political organizations. People are seeking out ways to actively participate in the 2018 midterms and beyond.

It’s sad that it took the election of someone like Trump to ignite that kind of desire to participate, but if that’s what it takes, then so be it. Rage participation is better than no participation, so long as We the People do what we should have been doing all along.

So, yes, it’s going to be a long four years. Trump is going to enrage millions with his ridiculousness, but if all people do is complain, so what? Do something about it, and that will make all the difference in the world.

DLH

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Worldview: Infamy: on why never forgetting matters

via https://www.recreation.gov/showPage.do?name=landing&landing=/htm/pearlharbor/home.jsp&contractCode=NRSO&parkId=72369

The USS Arizona Memorial via Recreation.gov

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was correct when he declared that December 7th, 1941 would be a day that will live in infamy. The brutal Japanese attack on the US bases at Pearl Harbor shocked what had been just before a naive and isolationist nation into realizing the reality of the state of the world and plunged it into three and a half years of some of the most brutal warfare the world has ever known.

Yet, 75 years later, it is easy to forget the lessons Americans needed to learn from that event and to imagine lessons that should be forgotten.

The fact is that we should not remember Pearl Harbor out of some sense of xenophobia or bigotry or fear. It is easy to imagine that we should be suspect of those different from us and cast them as enemies, but if we were to do so, we would be wrong. The attack on Pearl Harbor was about far different lessons.

Instead, we should remember Pearl Harbor, and indeed all of World War Two, for what it represents about the world. The world is an unsettled, dangerous place, and it always has been. There has never been a time when the price of liberty is not eternal vigilance, and even when we are most vigilant, those who oppose us retain the ability to strike.

But, instead of despairing and fearing that reality, it should prompt us to adhere even more fully to the ideals that should define us. We should advance liberty even more. We should protect the oppressed with more zeal. We should prove to the whole world why we are a beacon rather than a blight.

It is by remembering the nature of our darkest days that we remember who we are. We must take hold of the ideals those events woke and put them into action. We must not let the darkness overcome the light. This is why we remember.

Never forget.

DLH

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Worldview: For the love of god and country

I once opined that no one can face a fiercer opponent than someone fighting for what they hold most dear.

We Americans, and really most Westerners, have a very romantic view of that idea. When we hear it, we see Spartans fighting at Thermopylae or Colonists fighting the Redcoats or Churchill exhorting the English to fight the Germans on the beaches.

Sure, there is that, but nobody said that what someone holds most dear has to be lovely or honorable in order for someone to be willing to die for it.

In fact, it is that very romantic fallacy that is causing us to lose the so-called War on Terror. What we’re failing to realize is that the fighters who have flocked to the likes of al Qaeda and al Shabbab and ISIS and their many brethren around the world fiercely love the variety of Islam they have embraced. They love it so much, they are willing to kill themselves trying to spread it and defend it.

Until we realize these people have embraced in harsh reality an ideal we have turned into fuzzy romance, we cannot beat them. It will never be enough to drop some bombs on the places they are currently hiding or to occupy the countries they happen to be operating from today. No, we have to attack the very foundations of what drives that ideology in the first place.

I understand that last notion is ugly and fraught with the potential for being cruel. As it turns out, so is our enemy.

DLH

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Worldview: Philosophy: A thought on creativity

For whatever reason, I’ve come across several discussions recently wherein someone has opined that one creative person “ripped off” another creative person and that supposed theft was then presented as evidence that there is no real creativity anymore.

These sorts of observations make me shake my head. My study and observation of creativity–not just art, but all forms of creation–reveals to me that there has never been any other form of creation but theft by the standard presented above.

What makes me sad about that standard is that it has become so commonplace in everything from creative education to corporate litigation to patent law that fewer and fewer people are trying to create anymore. Far too many people believe that, in order to be truly creative, they have to create an astonishing new masterpiece the first time or they are a failure.

That last sentiment is a lie society has concocted on the basis of not even knowing, let alone understanding, the history of creativity. The fact is that there are very few new things and that nearly everything is in some way tied to something that already exists. In a lot of ways, creativity is about refreshing old ideas and combining them in new ways rather than about creating something new.

So my advice to all the creative types out there is this: steal and make it your own. The future will thank you for having done so even as the past approves of your method. These naysayers have no idea what they are talking about.

DLH

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Worldview: Uncomfortable Infamy

A guest post by Pete Hitzeman

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.”

–Franklin Delano Roosevelt, December 8, 1941

 

It’s another one of my favorite and least favorite days. Like Veterans’ Day, Memorial Day, and now Patriot Day, Pearl Harbor Day is one in which people update their Facebook statuses with pictures and quotes, briefly put on somber faces, and talk about remembering and honoring those who died. And then they tick the box of their annual moral obligation for another year, and go on looking at pictures of cats with things on their heads.

I submit that while remembering and honoring are fine and noble things, would it not be more useful, indeed more appropriate to talk about what happened and why? Would not the voices of those honored dead beg us to prevent future tragedies in any way possible? I don’t think we can honor their sacrifice properly without diligently trying to learn from and prevent the circumstances that precipitated the necessity of that sacrifice. This sort of discussion, while uncomfortable, is important, and today is an appropriate time to have it, lest we put it off indefinitely and fail to take its hard lessons.

The most painful lessons of days like today and 9/11 was that they didn’t have to happen. In the weeks, days and hours leading up to each of those attacks, there were signs that were ignored, intelligence that was discounted, and warnings that went unheeded. More than that, the circumstances that facilitated the possibility of those attacks were rooted in flawed policy and naïve beliefs about the nature of the world. Almost inexplicably, there are many today pontificating that we should again espouse those very same policies and beliefs.

I believe that the men and women who died on those days would be far happier if we were trying to figure out how to prevent future similar events, rather than simply “honoring” them with some sort of superficial sobriety.

This is part of a larger issue, for me. It is “impolite” to discuss difficult things (like politics) in polite company. It is “inappropriate” to talk about the reasons we have to send our young men into battle on the days we have selected to honor their service and sacrifice. The result of this mindset is, to me, that we never discuss those difficult things because they are uncomfortable, and that has led to redundant wars that cost us lives and strain our nation, and a political system so broken that no one believes it can be fixed. We should, and we must start having these discussions, and I can think of no better time, so long as it is done respectfully, than days like today.

An objective assessment of the histories of the two largest attacks on American sovereignty in the past century lays bare the fallacy, still being advanced as truth today, that if we leave the world alone, it will return the favor. One of the principal challenges of being a global superpower is that we must, in the interest of our own survival, discover and engage threats to us, our allies and our interests at home and abroad, before they precipitate into full scale assaults on our homeland and civilian populace. If we fail to do so, if we forget or ignore the lessons offered by the catastrophes of our past, we are guaranteeing that in the future, we will have to set aside yet more days to remember our fallen. And that in no way honors those who have already died.

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Worldview: 9-11

Eleven years on.

For some, the memory fades. It seems like the wounds may have finally begun to heal. Maybe it’s time to look to other things.

Only for some.

I cannot speak for anyone but myself, but I can tell you that the memories of that day are as fresh as if they’re still happening. Perhaps it was because I wore the uniform that day. Perhaps it is because so many of us knew something was coming. Perhaps it is because some of us pay more attention than most. Whatever it is, the memory is still fresh and raw.

And it should be.

So many people believe that the threat represented by the attacks on September 11, 2001 were an anomaly. They want to believe the threat has passed. They want to believe we are safer than we were.

We are not.

Some will claim my view is fear mongering. Some will demand my silence. I cannot be silent. We are not safe, and as long as we are threatened, fear prevents us from being truly free.

For me, the events of this day eleven years ago drove home a single point: the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. I stood on the line then, and in my own way, I stand on the line now.

I have not forgotten. I will never forget.

DLH

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Worldview: Lego Kidsfest Cincinnati 2012

I have come to believe engaging in the act of creation brings out the best in many of us.

Granted, that’s not a hard and fast rule, but I witnessed something amazing this past weekend when I attended the 2012 Cincinnati LEGO KidsFest with my niece and brother-in-law: thousands of kids and parents, building things with LEGOs, and without the anarchy one normally associates with such large gatherings of modern children and adults.

Frankly, I was flabbergasted at just how civil and fun the whole thing was. I watched hundreds of kids, most of them strangers, wade through a two foot deep pile of bricks, searching for pieces and helping other kids find what they were looking for. I watched parents and kids work together to build fantastic buildings to populate a huge outline of the United States. I watched kids and parents wait patiently in line to participate in activities without the fighting and fuss one normally associates with such things.

I blame the bricks.

From my point of view, it was easy to avoid all the fuss and fight because everyone was focused on creating something. They could see the outcome and they wanted to be a part of it, and I think everyone knew that they had to stay civil if they wanted to participate. It worked, and it was amazing.

Now, here’s where I wax philosophical about what I will grant you was really a giant commercial to sell more LEGOs: I have to admit that what I saw in that gathering could easily be a thing that could happen in our nation and our world as a whole if we tried. If we look back at our own history and think about all the times we have been united to accomplish common causes, we can see the same effect. It is possible for us to unite to accomplish amazing goals if we want to accomplish them, but the secret to such goals is that they have to be focused on creating something.

It is my fondest hope that the parents and kids at the LEGO KidsFest caught a glimmer of what I did and that it planted a seed. It’s one we all need to nurture and grow.

DLH

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Worldview: When you look at your country, who do you see?

To me, last night’s State of the Union Address represented the same kind of drivel that I’ve come to expect from all of our politicians for years. Obama went right to the boasting and political pandering that has defined national politics since I first started paying attention to it decades ago.

The centerpiece of Obama’s pandering is the idea that Americans need the government to take care of them. To the people in Washington, it’s no longer a government of, by, and for the people but a government above, around, and in front of the people.

That thought leads me to the thing that has been bothering me about this election cycle since it began way back after Obama was elected in 2008: why do we spend so much time worrying about presidents and Congresses and national politics at all? Shouldn’t those things pale in comparison to what each of us are doing as individuals wherever we are?

Last night, Obama said, ”I’m a Democrat. But I believe what Republican Abraham Lincoln believed: That Government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more.” The problem is that what he believes the people cannot do better themselves and what I think have nothing to do with each other at all.

If Obama believed those words the way I do, he would do exactly two things: first, he would demand that Congress include the Constitutional justification for every law it passes. If it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t go into law. Second, he would demand that Congress begin systematically dismantling the federal government until it returns to the size and scope of powers enumerated in the Constitution and its amendments.

But, Obama doesn’t believe in that at all. No, instead he believes in a government of the government, by the government, and for the government. In his view, the people need to be taken care of. They need to be ruled.

And the reason he can get away with that idea is because of you. It’s because you’re so worried about electing a president who can fix your problems instead of you fixing them yourself. It’s because you’re so worried about what’s going on in Washington that you’re not worried about what’s going on down the street. It’s because you’ve decided that the idea of being taken care of sounds kind of nice, and if you’re honest with yourself, that’s what you’re paying attention to and voting for.

So, look around you. Who do you see? Do you see a nation full of exceptional individuals who should all be given the maximum opportunity to succeed by the merits of their own work? Do you see opportunities to help others and, by doing so, help yourself? Do you see a future that lies in your hands and a destiny you determine?

Or do you see a bunch of things you want someone else to do because you don’t feel like doing it?

The sad part is that, as our government systematically dismantles our liberty in order to make us all safe and comfortable, it guarantees our demise. The history of great nations tells us that is true. And, the ones who will survive and flourish in whatever comes after that demise are the ones who take matters into their own hands.

Now, look in the mirror. Who do you see? Do you see a person ready for whatever comes next?

If not, do something about it.

DLH

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Worldview: Remembering the warning we ignored

Today is the 10th anniversary of the bombing of the USS Cole at Aden, Yemen by operatives of al Qaeda. The bombing killed seventeen sailors and wounded another 39.

The US response to the Cole bombing may well go down as one of the biggest mistakes in foreign policy history because it emboldened al Qaeda to take even bigger risks. A year later, 9/11 happened.

This chain of events cannot be more important to our current state of affairs. Actions have consequences, even when the action is failure to act. The bombing of the Cole is an example of what happens when nations do not take care of their problems or the threats arrayed against them.

We live in a time where the national instinct is to give up, and if we do so, we consign ourselves to the real risk of even worse things happening because of an emboldened enemy that will think it has won a great victory. We failed to act after the Cole bombing, and that failure helped bring 9/11. If we fail to finish the job in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere, what consequences will we bring on ourselves?

DLH

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