A Call for Men of Compassion

I still read the adventures of Prince Valiant every Sunday.

When I was a young boy my favorite book was “King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.”  This was a small book, small enough to fit in your pocket and it contained great stories, and engraved pictures about that age of chivalry and adventure.  I was swept up in the mythology of the book and spent considerable time reading and re-reading the book to the point that the small book was becoming “dog eared” and falling apart.  My mother understood how important the book was to me and she took it to a bindery and had the book repaired and an new cover attached with the title embossed in gold. I still have this little volume in my library and I’m looking forward to the day when I can share the stories with my grandchildren.

I couldn’t get enough of this mythology, watching every movie, reading comic books (remember Illustrated Classics?) and even put together plastic models of knights.  To this day I still read “Prince Valiant” comic strips every Sunday morning on my iPad.

The stories of King Arthur and his Knights represented values that I learned, later in life, to hold dear.  These myths defined a world that was intentional, powerful and worth fighting for. These stories about Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere while they were fables still communicated truths that are still relevant today. I knew even as a young boy that the stories weren’t true but I still believed in their moral and I was able to use that understanding to help guide my journey to manhood.

Over the course of the past three years I’ve become aware of a different mythology, a political mythology that isn’t honest, isn’t true and certainly doesn’t espouse moral values.  I own, upfront, my bias in this matter and I find it difficult to identify myths about Liberals.  However, this supports my claim that today what is presented as political truth is in fact nothing more than mythology used to manipulate people into supporting specific politicians or more precisely denouncing the opposition.  I ask that you suspend your immediate reaction to what is presented here and see if through an open mind we might be able to achieve something, together.  I’ll use the mythology applied by the Left to denigrate the Right as a way to illustrate my point.  Please respond with the myths that the Right promote about the Left!

“Paul Ryan and the Republicans want to deprive healthcare for the elderly.”

“The Republican are waging a war on women.”

“The rich don’t pay their fair share of the taxes.”

“People on the Right only care about making money and don’t care about the common man.”

“Conservatives are anti-immigrant.”

“Conservatives hate homosexuals.”

I could fill the rest of this blog with an educated repudiation of each of these myths.  Not a single one of them is true for me or anyone I know who believes in conservative values.  Instead I’m inviting you to participate in a discussion about the core mythology:

“Liberals are compassionate while Conservatives are not.”

There isn’t an issue in our society that can’t be distilled to this fundamental myth.  Regardless of the facts or the costs a Liberal will always believe that their polices are superior because they are certain that they care and we don’t.  For example, take the recent support for gay marriage by President Obama.

A Liberal colleague at work asked what I thought about the President’s recent support for gay marriage and I voiced my objection to changing the meaning of marriage to include same-sex couples.  His response as he walked away, “So you want us all to be miserable.”  Wow, he didn’t ask for an explanation for my beliefs and I didn’t say anything about how I feel about homosexuality; he just made the intellectual leap, driven by his emotions, that if I don’t agree with him then I’m an uncaring, hater of gays.

He is an enlightened and compassionate person while I’m a neanderthal.

How can we deal with any of the challenges that confront this nation if we won’t listen to each other.  In the situation mentioned above I wanted to have my colleague explain his position, I wanted to learn how he would draw the moral line; what was the moral authority for re-defining marriage?  Can brothers and sisters marry?  Is polygamy acceptable?  Can a father marry his daughter?  If we’re going to define marriage in a way that has never been done before then what’s the basis, what’s the authority for the new definition?

The Liberal “compassion myth” wouldn’t allow the man from engaging in a meaningful dialog about the definition of marriage.  He didn’t want to hear that I have the upmost respect for my gay colleagues.  He doesn’t want to learn about the close personal friends I have with men who happen to be homosexuals.  He doesn’t want to hear that I want equal rights for all citizens regardless of race, color, creed or sexual orientation.  He doesn’t want to hear the basis for my belief that marriage isn’t a right protected by the Constitution, it’s an institution.

The Liberal walks away and the ideological gulf widens and with the help of the newspapers and TV we end up with more division, more animosity, less understanding and no solutions.

I’m sick and tired of these spit wad fights ( See my earlier blog entry on this subject, http://wp.me/p1MpDw-n) while “Rome Burns!”  My challenge to all that read these words, especially the men, STAND UP FOR CLARITY.  Exercise true compassion and put yourself in the shoes of the other person. Make every attempt to understand their point of view and how they are directly affected.  Then clearly articulate your position and the basis for your beliefs.  Lose the sound bites and dive into the deep water of understanding.  I’m not asking that you agree, I’m asking that you put down the shield of self-righteousness and listen, to have ears to hear and eyes to see.  For me this is a moral issue that men must step up and be the leaders for creating a safe and positive environment for the exchange of ideas. We as men need to get past the propaganda and the myths we hold dear and clearly define the problems so that we can arrive at sensible and well thought out solutions.

As an architectural student back in the late 60’s I learned that defining the problem clearly, usually resulted in the solution becoming known quickly.  We had to “chew” on the subject for awhile in order to gain clarity but once there, the solution would appear naturally.  We as a nation need to start defining the problems more clearly in order for us to create a more perfect Union.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Omamacare) is a perfect example of how the problem, the question has NOT been clearly defined.  The result is a two thousand page law that no one read and no one can fully understand and that doesn’t actually reduce the cost of healthcare.  If we define the problem as, “We want to reduce the cost of healthcare, maintain and improve that care and make the care available and affordable to all citizens” then we’ll have a dialog that will result in a very different outcome.  We’ll be able to explore what, if anything the Federal Government needs to do (ability to sell insurance across State lines for instance) and what programs and laws can assist in achieving the stated goals at the local and State levels of government.  If we define the problem as ”How can the political class control the lives of the citizens,” then we get Obamacare.  Instead we enflame the situation through our mythologies about the Left being compassionate and the Right wanting to push granny off the cliff.

My humble request is that you join me in the dialog about fatherhood, manhood, the economy, the definition of marriage, or any other social issue.  Respond with your beliefs not your judgments.  Respond with insight and reason about the basis and the authority for your position.

Let’s not hide behind false compassion, let’s stand up for clarity and understanding and be authentically compassionate.  Let’s stop trusting our lives to career politicians and media pundits and reclaim the leadership of this great country.  Join me in picking up the sword of truth and the shield of faith to become the new knights for clarity!

Post 21: Values & Value

As I listen to the debate in America, or are we just talking past each other (see my Blog entitled “Spit Wads.”), I stop and wonder what will this once great country be like when my grandchildren are my age. Will they have enjoyed the same freedom and prosperity that I have? Will they have the opportunity to create their own lives or will they be indentured to the will of the ruling class? Will they have any understanding of personal responsibility? Will they experience the rush of success and the heartbreak of failure or will they be sheltered from these extremes by the compassion of the Statists?

During the recent inane “debt ceiling” fiasco I came across a picture of a young girl, maybe 6 or 7 years old, holding a sign with, “I owe $46,000 of US debt,” scrawled in immature lettering. My first reaction was how powerful this image was. It distilled the issue into real world terms that were easier to understand. The picture illustrated the real life affects of the 100-year march towards Statism and the destruction of the founding principles for this nation.

Then it hit me. What was this young girl getting for that $46,000, what were any of us getting for the massive Federal spending that has resulted in all of us owing tens of trillions of dollars! What’s the value to me for the government spending my money? And what values guided the ruling class in spending my money?

Value and values, that’s the question we should be discussing. Without an honest dialog about the value and values associated with any government program or policy we are left with ideological self flagellation that leads the country straight to ruin. We can’t make any progress because we never stop and unpack an issue to it’s core and understand what we are attempting to achieve and wether or not we’ll be successful. No, we stuff the turkey, dump it into the oven, turn the temperature up to high and walk away leaving the consequences to those that come after us. Who cares if the turkey catches on fire and burns down the house? You made a promise to provide a great turkey you didn’t say anything about eating it!

Where’s the discussion about value and values in the current budget and debt ceiling nightmare? You won’t find it. The flapping jaws from both sides are only interested in their own plans and self professed brilliance. It’s all about what’s best for them, their not thinking about that little girl holding the sign. If they stopped mud wrestling for power and votes they might be able to confront the trillion dollar elephant in the middle of Washington – the federal government wasn’t intended to provide anything for the citizens except protection from foreign enemies and a secure environment to exercise their free will.

Understanding that government is not intended to PROVIDE stuff to the citizens is crucial. In fact this is the core difference between Liberals and Conservatives. The Left feels the need for the government to supply the needs of the citizens, especially the underprivileged, while the Right believes in empowering the citizen to take responsibility for his or her own life. I’m not talking about safety nets, I’m talking about entitlements. I’m talking about the cultural mindset that so many people now have that the Government owes them certain things in life.

“now common knowledge that our welfare system has itself become a poverty trap — a creator and reinforcer of dependency.” Ronald Reagan, April 1987

“We’ve gone astray from first principles. We’ve lost sight of the rule that individual freedom and ingenuity are at the very core of everything that we’ve accomplished. Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.” Ronal Reagan, March 1981

This Nation was founded on the fundamental belief that the citizens were to be free from government control, they were to be responsible for their own “Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness.” They created a governance system, codified in the Constitution, that insured those rights by specifically limiting the powers of the Federal government (Enumerated powers). The Founders did not intend the government to tell the citizen which light bulbs he can use or which healthcare insurance he has to purchase. But that is exactly what the government is doing and has been trying to do since the Great Depression and the presidency of FDR, because the Left believes that they know better than you and I how we should live our lives.

Where we find ourselves today then is in a struggle between two diametrically opposed value systems…the Left values central control; the Right values personal responsibility.

No wonder we have what appears to be an impossible budget situation. The Left’s values dictate that big government programs, especially entitlements, be continued and expanded. Conservatives on the other hand don’t value these programs and see them as harmful to the citizens that receives the largesse. Therefore, the question must be framed and answered as to what we as citizens, at least the majority of us, value most before the budget nightmare can be resolved. Otherwise how can anyone determine what to cut and what to fund?

Politicians of both parties try to confuse us and keep us from considering what we value most so that they can continue to promote and implement their own values above those of the citizens. Hence, all the mud slinging and bumper sticker slogans and visuals of pushing grandma off the cliff. It’s time that this stops and We the People speak up and clearly communicate to Congress what we value most and that Congress must only budget our tax dollars for programs that are consistent with those values.

“A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned – this is the sum of good government.” Thomas Jefferson

Establishing and committing to a set of values, like spending less than you take in, is the first step towards resolution of the economic challenge. The second step is determining what value we receive for the tax dollars (our money) spent! This is the problem with the “tax the rich” or “we need to increase revenues” arguments from the Left. What value are we receiving for the money spent? The Left bristles at any mention of cutting existing programs, with the exception of defense, but really what is being purchased with our tax dollars? Most citizens would be happy to pay more in taxes if those funds were spent wisely and effectively.

Congress needs to perform a zero-base analysis of every single Federal program in every Department to determine what value is received, if that program is consistent with the overall values mentioned previously and they are Constitutional. For years, maybe decades various Congressmen and Senators have unsuccessfully presented bills to require legislation to be reviewed for compliance with the Constitution prior to any vote. Along with the balanced budget amendment this is a policy whose time has come.

The Department of Education is a prime example of a whole department that would not survive a value-based funding analysis. Click over to the Heritage.org web site and look up their “Book of Charts” (http://www.heritage.org/budgetchartbook/) and you’ll find evidence that spending more at a Federal level on education has absolutely no impact on student performance. Not an enumerated power, massive money spent and no value received!

In what way are the trillions of dollars being spent by the Federal government adding value to the life of that young girls pictured above? She’s being saddled with the debt so what is she getting for it? Is she free to pursue Life, Liberty and Happiness? Is she free to succeed or fail on her own merits and efforts? Or will she grow up a slave to the ruling class in Washington?

Values and Value those are the real questions we need to address, and we need to do it now!