Seems like

Being born plays tricks on us. We come into the world already attached to an Identity, family, culture, religion, town and country.  I have often wondered of the impact it has on each of us.  We all have our troubles and road blocks to what life has for us.  Being born last I was benefited by timing and cursed by it.  I was always following someone. My father, an older brother and nearer brother.  everyone pointed to what he did, admonished to not do what he did. And you know you just don’t have the makeup to do what he does.

It’s curious thing following another.  sometimes it can be good and sometimes it can be bad.  A deer will dart out across the road in front of you depending on if they are following an other in their clan who has already crossed the road successfully.  With a deer fight or flight is not an option, it is always flight.  Speed and familiarity of terrain are hard wired into their gene pool.  If one has already crossed the road then going forward when spooked is always the right choice.  The coast is clear and follow the leader rules the night.  So if mother made it across the road that is safe harbor and off I go to a grisly death.

Problem is evolution did not anticipate inanimate objects barreling through the night oblivious and disinterested in the deer.  To a deer’s mind your car is more like a bolt of lightening blasting through the night than what time has told them to watch for and fear.

Technology has the same effect on modern men today as well.  Everything we have been ingrained with to guide us in life betrays us just like a car does does for a deer on the side of the road at night. What in resent years past used to be a generational problem has now become a sub-generational  issue.  What worked for the 20 somethings of the nineties can no more work for the class of 2015 than what had worked for the boomers.

Today I hear of 20 somethings writing there own future with technology and unimagined new frontiers of communication and connectedness. In practice though all I observe are people trying to be something they are not on various Facebook like platforms.  Their parent do it on Linkedin in or something like that as well. I receive almost weekly updated linkedin request from high school friends who’s job will have no impact by who they have connected with on the internet.  The same old rules apply.  Does you boss or prospective boss like you, do they think you can do they the job and is there no one else the know or like better to give the job to.

Seems like even with the world wide open to young people today and the choices before them broader than they have ever been but the same old basic question applies.  Who do they follow.

I set my mind to follow my older brother, he made something of himself, and he really did. Not to follow my father, which I did in part,  because he lived in fear like a deer and always seemed to be running back into the brush and his same old habits.  I ended up following my closest brother to some degree which was a mistake because he really can do things I could never do.

So it seems like here I am just over the hump of life, I guess you might call it Thursday morning for me and I am deciding if I am going to cross the road again, duck in the brush behind me or to say the hell with it and keep eating and walk down the road and find my own pasture.  I guess it is a very good thing that I have the choice. Many times in recent months I have felt played out and worn out.  My bodies is failing me to some degree and I can no longer do the work that once sustained me.  At first I saw this as a cruel joke because it had never even occurred to me that this would happen to me this soon in life.

Now I think it may be a gift to get me off the beaten path and look harder for a better road to cross at least for me.  Can you tell that I lived in Walden’s pond for many of a season, I guess I still live there today.

Why such an optimist could be such a fatalist, an insight for my daughters

I believe it is safe to say my daughters would agree that while raising them I always taught them to look for the good in people and to have Faith in God.  I think it was safe to say that my faith was color blind and always looking outward to other cultures as just different people looking for the same thing. At least I hope it is so.

I grew up on the tail end of the boomer generation,  never fully vested in the causes of the boomers and I awoke as an adult during the Reagan years.  I had no misconceptions about Iran Contra affair.  I didn’t care then and I don’t care today, Realpolitik is what it is and no matter what culture or system the exercise of power is the same it is just how skilled you are at exercising it.

Over the years literally I have seen leaders make good and bad choses, it is what it is.  I disliked Clintons cavalier attitude towards morality not just in practice but in how he defined it, never the less he was a good politician.  He got things done that were good for both sides of the isle. Not everything mind you but he could work with in the system and get something done with some form of consensus.  His morals, at least public, however for ever changed America.  I can remember railing during the Lewinsky affair it wasn’t what he had done with a 19 year old paige that pissed me off.  It was his lying and belittling the affair.  As Harrison Ford said in Clear and Present Danger, “no use diffusing a bomb after it had gone off”.

It was the redefining of what was acceptable moral behavior in public and private that would for ever alter America. “we didn’t really have sex he said, how would you define sex, well I never penetrated her, maybe my cigar-but never copulation by the strict definition of the act”  I said then that in ten years we would have a generation of young girls and boys who didn’t really see anything wrong with oral sex, after all it wasn’t really having sex, more like advanced necking!

He was a good politician who got some things done worked across the isle and took advantage of two previous presidents economic policies.  I’ll never forgive him for what he did to the recent culture though. I’m no fool to think that sex didn’t go on between teenagers.  I learned way to early and though  I have never regretted the girls I chose to lay down with I do for ever regret is laying with them.  They were not the one and it was not the time.

Today we have legalized marriage of the same sex no matter what the people of that state vote.  On the horizon is polymorphous relationships were multiple partners of what ever mixture of gender will be legal and mandated to be accepted and not spoken ill of (hate speech). Polygamy and child brides next, lastly will come pederasty.  All will be acceptable and required education and laws to protect the individuals preferred behavior no matter what the cost or age involved. Dare I mention “man boy love” at this juncture.

Society and by that I mean a nation is a fragile thing if the moors of the society are ripped from the shores of history and tradition the nation drifts aimlessly.  Drifting aimlessly gets you no where fast.

“If A nations plumbing is as leaky as its philosophy then it foundations and structure are doomed” anon

Churchill once said I believe “that  a young person who wasn’t a liberal had no heart, a middle age person who wasn’t a conservative had no brain.”   In part I believe he came up with that belief to justify his shift to conservatism in his latter years.  Realpolitik stepped up to the plate and said this is what it is going to take to survive the future as a nation and culture.

Are we as a nation going to step up and call it dog crap when we see it in front of us or are we going to define it anew and give it political status so that particular pile of crap and every other pile of crap we walk upon is forever inshrined in a political stasis protected by courts and legislatures that the founders never had any intention of protecting with with the Bill of Rights?

A Marriage

I was recently ask to be a Groomsman  at a freinds wedding. It threatend to be a cool windy day in a park preserve located in the Mississippi River bottom, at least for October. Bow season had been in for 3 full days and the topic of conversation among all the younger males in the wedding party were the about the deer that had already walk by or the ones they had already bagged for the cooler.  Beer flowed like rain before the ceremony.  My wife commented on the way home how we live In a different generation. The groom wore his camo sunglasses and rumpled felt hat through the wedding and the bride read her vows from her cell phone. What a juxtaposition of cultures.

After spending the night before with groom and a fellow groomsman and listening to their phones go off incessantly I took care to remind us all to at least mute our phones prior to the march. It wasn’t necessary though. The brides mother warned me we might hear such and such uncle’s alert go off to I believe Jimmy Hendrix.  So I was expecting a chorus of Lynard Skinard to ZZ Top through the ceremony.  The 16 mph wind coming down the river valley spared us all that although in reality it wouldn’t have mattered.

Life was perfect this day.  I was reminded of a celebration from medieval times where town folk celebrated with abandon, and very little inhibitions.  This was very good thing also because apparently the DNR had removed the out houses for the season for which we all agreed was dumb. It was the hunting season and where were hunters to go bathroom not to mention us.  No problem the park we were at had ample supply of trees and wooded areas to sneak off to which we all did so frequently.  I even took my wife for a stroll so she could moon the dry oak tree swamp. Life is good and life is simple if you let it be.

I am fairly certain that no one in attendance had great amount of money or owned more than a modest house. Most rented and worked for little more than minimum wage.  Many of the older men where on  disability for actual broken bodies after a lifetime of hard repetitive laborer. One older veteran celebrated finally getting his VA retirement and three years back pay.  He did a little dance

These are do what they can, do what they have to people – who show up after a full days work and help you move or fix something broken at your house type people.  Salt of the earth really does apply here and I use it with out shame.

Short of my own daughters wedding and my own wedding it was the most joyous wedding I had ever been too.  There were some hurt family feelings floating around, I’m not blind and stupid. And a few teetotalers floating around but they were not to have the day. Like an inefficient preacher they could not influence or smother the celebration.  This was the joining of two people in marriage, and it was a celebration as well as standing before God and Christ asking for his blessing upon their life.

Celebration without pretense without inhibitions or limitations.  I left early because of  my own pain but I am sure that there were Rebel Yells echoing through the rented hall before the night was over and all made it home safe and the couple began the first day of the rest of their life.

Si vis pacem, para bellum / If you want peace prepare for war

Si vis pacem, para bellum – Vegetius

If you want peace prepare for war. How many times has this been uttered and not heeded, how many people and nations have been subjected to violence and subjugation because they failed to heed this admonishment.

Sivis pacem, para bellum. Why are the lessons of history always lost to the forgotten past? There are no particular reason this or any other lesson is forgotten other than willful blindness. Nor does length of time seem to play a roll in what is forgotten and what is remembered. How many times have we watched a family member or friend wade back into a destructive relationship and no amount of advice or counsel can sway them from repeating history? Lessons learned about history either from a book, antidote or personal experience always seem relegated to the trash heap of well intentioned all be it misplaced advice. People in the singular and the plural might recognize circumstances approaching that ring the caution bells of alarm but history is almost always ignored and actions and steps are taken that follow in the pig mire of mistakes that have predated the current set of circumstance and the same mistakes and outcomes are repeated yet again with the same predictable out comes.

It is never that the repetitive circumstances are so different in make up and actors that the point is hidden in the dusty examples of history. Nor are the actor’s motives and intention’s ever that different from one age to the next. Lust for power, fear, pride and searching for control are the same today as they were in the first millennium.

A horse will always act like a horse; an abusive man will always act the abusive man. A nation cornered will always either accept poor terms of capitulation or will lash out in foolish military maneuver.

A nation that forgets where they have come from and what fortitude it took to build the nation is always doomed to decline

For the last fifty years we in America have heard the caution that the state of our country is mirroring and progressing down a very similar road as what was the Roman Empire. No debate or defense will be given to the strengths and morality of the Roman Empire nor will they be given for the strengths and morality of the American nation other than to say simply this. After the fall of Rome Europe entered the feudal period of the dark ages and knowledge and any form of predictable justice was gone from the face of Europe for a millennial.

We have entered into a point in history where our social, economic, and political decision making has become so lazy and inept that the mistakes needed to guarantee we have chosen to follow Rome into oblivion are already virtually sealed.   Does this mean that the Visigoths are at the northern frontier and we must surrender the gates of our country and be subjected to a menacing foe? Not hardly but just like the Decline and Fall of Rome we will see saw back and forth a few more years.

what is freedom?

Liberty is the virtuous application of informed judgment of each and every circumstance we come to face in our day-to-day life. Whether it be civil, spiritual, or business. Above all it was not a license to do and say whatever suited there momentary fancy.
Paraphrased
John Milton

Sic hunt Dracones – For here there are Dragons, phrase used to described what was beyond the edge of ancient maps

originally written 2010

Building upon a lifetime of observations and learning I have come to believe that a significant collapse of the economy and the social stability that this economic system has supported is in jeopardy.
Virtually all of the social structure we enjoy has been built upon mortgaged promises to the future. I am not saying that this process is an evil or faulty practice. In truth it is a reasonable way to build upon a society at a greater rate than might otherwise be achieved through the slow process of developing natural resources and material skills naturally. The danger that we are now in is that for the last 50 years we have been ever increasing the social contract of guaranteed stability and results output to the point that our national and world system can no longer support that inflation it has promised.
Many of us have been promised the world vis-a-vie our union membership, our educational acheivment, our public service employment and lastly our participation in investment options that reach all around the world.
I would say that in theory this was not a bad system but that it has been compromised. We have been promised more than can be paid. Just as we say portfoilios diminish into thin air a few years ago. Now unions are seeing their clout and bankroll diminish. In the near future I believe we will see the promises to the public sector break down into insolvency.
Everyone is clamoring to scratch up their share of the pie and the truth is the pie is not nearly big enough to support it all and now everyone knows it. They might not say it and they might not react to it out of fear and unbelief, but deep down they know it. Their only hope is that by some slim chance we might elect a group of individuals that will have the courage and intelligence to save us from going over the brink.

The closer we approach this horizon the less chance we have of electing reprecentatives who are able to turn us around or at least away from social economic collapse. It is an exponential problem from this point on. The closer we come to it the greater the insolvance becomes. All the while the pubic anger grows and public faith clouds over like war clouds. Talk to the normal housewife and they will tell you to hell with gas prices where were you guys for the last three years when food prices went through the roof.

15 years ago we watched Bosnia fall apart into civil war and ethnic cleansing, while we all forgot that just a few short years before that Sarajevo was the new Paris and the home to the winter Olimpics.

War and tragedy are always only a few steps away for any civilization.
In changing directions just a bit only for the purposes to make a point consider this. What do you think was the goal Bin Laden had when he waged war on America? Did he actually think he would be able so subdue us to the point that he could send Jihadist to this continent and possess our resources. I don’t think for a moment this was his purpose. His purpose was to injure us enough by any means possible that we would no longer have the power or will to interfere with them in the subcontinent.

Flamma Fumo est proxima – Flame is close to smoke

The greater part of what my neighbors call good I call bad
Walden

Flamma Fumo est proxima – Flame is close to smoke – Where there is smoke there is fire. A person should ask how many tragedies, fires, and betrayals have occurred through the centuries that have brought this statement to mind. Where there’s smoke there is fire. This can be used to cast a warning to those around us. It is however not used today to alert us to a threat but to whisper a suspicion of impending betrayal or deceit.

Est proxime – is close to – it is in proximity to you but still hidden. Even though a fire throws off light, burning heat, and noise as it consumes everything it touches. You are left knowing that the danger is real and it is close. Not only are you in proximity to it in terms of location you are also imminently close to it in time. At any moment you expect the danger to flash over and begin burning away at your life.
In our lives today we are so insular and protected from tragidity, degrading, and depredation that this old quote has lost its urgency of admonition. For every adversity, every tragedy, every material set back there is a professional trained and schooled in repairing our problem. From a home fire to a crisis of spirit, we have codified who the repairman is and what it shall be called. There is another old saying Ill chooses to add here. What ever it is you are afraid of, resisting, or dislike you are either creating it, imagining it or you will become it.
Isn’t it interesting that when physiologist from the west have gone to Asian or third world countries they have discovered a profoundly interesting fact. In Asia there is a dramatic lack of post-traumatic stress syndrome in those regions after horrendous natural disasters. Virtually no cases are found in the indigenous population after the earthquake and tsunami of 2004. It was not because the condition went unreported or hidden. When western psychologist looked for it in the population they did not find it. It simply was not part of the make up of the culture. What maladies and emotional problems are we foisting upon ourselves because we simply let them happen.
I say that when something bad happens simply call it bad luck, bad decsion or what ever and know that when it does we are the ones called upon to put it out and repair it. Then once again this warning might regain some importance. Flamma Fumo est Proxima.

If there is a fire in your heart, your finances, your behavior it is predominantly upon you to put it out. If you allow some specialist to fix it then that specialist not only fixes it they also choose the path you will take and what life you choose.

If there is smoke wafting around your behavior and conduct then eventually your behavior will ruin your friendships, land you in jail, squander your money, and get you killed prematurely.

Deus ex Machina- God out of the machine

Deus ex Machina- God out of the machine
When thinking about this phrase I am struck by the fact that it was uttered during the Iron Age over 2000 years ago. From the Romans it came and what great technology might that person have first seen that inspired them to first utter this pronouncement. Little is realized today of the reality of Roman technology and how far it exceeds our imagination. Even with that said, a cursory examination of high Roman technology with that of today’s industrial capabilities, the Internet, and the theoretical application of chemistry and physics. One can then begin to see the centuries that stand between the Romans and us and it does in fact leave them in the Iron Age.

Even still from the Iron Age the Romans used their understanding of engineering to feed and water cities of a million people or more. They developed paved road systems that stretched from Scotland to Africa and the edges of Asia. They built the Coliseum; steam bathes and marshaled armies and weapons that subdued everyone that stood in their way.

The true genius of Roma was their logistics. They knew how to get things done whether that meant getting it done for the civilian population to provide water for a million people living in ten square miles with out the aid of electricity. To organizing armies made up many cultures and feeding and supporting them far from home. This was all about one thing, doing what was necessary to get things done. Brute force and man’s genius grew and fed this nation for over four century’s.

It was never an easy task and it didn’t happen overnight. Thus another old dusty quote “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. The myth of Rome begins with two brothers who lived in a little village in what is now east central Italy. Through force of will and action this small City State began in the valley of seven hills. By todays standards little more than a wide space in the road, today we would call it an undeveloped third world culture with a high mortality rate in a constant state of war and little hope of bettering the circumstance of the their population.

Determined and unyielding through war and diplomacy, ingenuity, and creativity they pressed on through the centuries spreading their influence from one small city to the next river valley all the way to the shores of Egypt and the island of Briton. They did not let the sea, the mountain, language or tradition stand in their way. This was and is the Machina of Rome.

Here the Romans showed their other great genius they were plagiarist. First they copied the government and culture of the Etruscans. Then they copied the Greeks art and philosophy. In the end they copied monotheism from the Israelites. From all of this we have today what is known as the Western Tradition.

This penchant the Romans had for assimilating from those they conquer was good and frankly that which worked took them from the Bronze Age to the height of the Iron Age. No nation no people ever stopped the Romans. Rome stopped when Rome decided to stop. No wonder a corporal from WW1 Germany copied his nationalism from the Roman Identity.

Deus ex Machina – God out of the Machine. I find it hard to believe that the Roman saw God in a catapult or even the extensive system of aqueducts. No rather I think what was seen was the Roman birth right. Being born a Roman citizen meant much the same as being born American today
Rome in the end suffered many of the same symptoms our country is suffering today. I’m not talking about a diminishing moral standards and sexual promiscuousness either. The list of ills the city of Rome suffered included corrupt public servants, joblessness, and a break down in their infrastructures, inflation. They exported the production of goods and services to the outskirts of the empire and left their own countryman without a means to make a living except to serve each other and entertain each other. If this doesn’t sound familiar think about it a little longer.

Our sense of history today is so shallow that most people on the street couldn’t tell you who came first Truman or Eisenhower and if you are one of those you should feel ashamed. Not knowing who we are as a nation and people is a tragedy of the greatest consequence. I used to look upon this ignorance of Americans with charity and tolerance. Now approaching 50 years old I am no longer in such a charitable mood. Not knowing the basic facts of your countries history, political structure, and culture is laziness and voluntary ignorance. No blame is to be placed upon the schools or universities. The blame lies with the sleeping individual. If your parents didn’t teach you or the schools didn’t teach it, tough go out and learn it on your own.

With out history a person has no framework to anchor their current social and political existence. You cannot make a informed decision regarding what direction your country and society should go. If a young adult doesn’t know how Rome changed the world or that the Greeks were cool albeit rather rough and egalitarian and much of their society was established in pederasty.
If you don’t have a general idea how the Irish monks did in fact preserve western culture through the dark ages. If you cannot explain the difference between market driven economics and structure economies and the gradients in between.

Deux ex machina
You have to know and recognize the machine and how it works or you are nothing more than a “primitive individual” setting around the fire letting the Shaman TELL you what and who you should believe.
Americans are so ignorant about who they are, where they came from, and what it has taken how do we expect to hold on to it. Parting thought

Reading further today on Marcus Aurelius and I was struck by his personal reflections on the meaning and purpose of the cosmos. obviously much of his thought influenced by the Greeks.  The divergent view between Plato search for virtue development of the polis.  Comparing his stoicism to the materialist  who believed we are simple material and atoms.  Rome placed a high standard on their moral standards.  Social acceptability and responsibility was just as much a part of Rome’s social fabric as it is in our own country for these last two centuries. Both nations share all the same hypocrisies and double standards but the parallels are there none the less.

Marcus Aurelius search for purpose and place in the world was based on this sense of purpose and existence of a soul that existed outside and separate from the materialistic world and atoms as held by Diogenes and others.  His belief in a human soul and an attachment to some greater soul  I believe motivated him as it did most of his contemporaries.  I believe he held that this soul had a purpose to better the world to bring order and stability to it.  I have never read this before but consider the story of the the twin brothers who founded Rome being raised by a wolf.  Out of nature and all of is brutish self and into a ordered protected world.  Without the Stoics the Epicureans had no garden to play in!

So …. Deux ex machina  we are a eternal soul determined to be part of a greater soul and those like Marcus Aurelius and John Adams saw man with a purpose to make the world that they found themselves a part of a better place.  This is what drove Pax Romana and this is what drove the formative years of America.

 

I know much of this can be disputed with exceptions and failures in both nations but it is there none the less.  This is a brief  response to the request for some expansion on my thoughts.  I’m a big fan of stories and like most Americans I do tend to gravitate to movies to tell my stories.  In the beginning of the Gladiator the line burst forth in the face of imminent death “Remember what we do in life echos in eternality.