Thursday, September 28, 2017

Sturdy Wisdoms And Realizations

     “Ve get too soon old und too late schmart.” – Ancient maxim

     “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” – Book of Proverbs

     Our time is slowly but steadily unearthing what I call “sturdy wisdoms:” the hard won learning of our parents, grandparents, and the generations before them. The “youth revolution” of the Sixties had many destructive effects, but the very worst of them was the contempt we showed for such wisdoms. We decided that we were the smart ones. The fusty oldsters cluck-clucking at us were fossils of a bygone era, misguided by their excessive respect for tradition. We were certain that we knew better than they, on just about every subject under the Sun.

     We reaped the whirlwind for it. We deserved what we got. Yes, there were others who knew that we were headed for a fall and, for reasons of their own, hastened us toward the abyss. That doesn’t spare us the odium for our arrogance and foolishness. However, admitting that might be the key to sparing our progeny some of what we’ve suffered.

     This morning I have three sturdy wisdoms in mind for your consideration. I contend that insisting on the contrary propositions has cost us dearly and will continue to do so until we unlearn and resolve sincerely to do better. There are others beside these three; indeed, there are many. But I’m not here to write an encyclopedia of our follies, merely to provide some color commentary.


     The first sturdy wisdom to be revived is one about which there’s still much dissent. In all probability that will continue forever. It’s been derided as simplistic, self-limiting, even dictatorial. Yet the truth of it glows more brightly with every passing day.

Sex is a serious matter.

     Long, long ago, at a Website far, far away, I wrote the following:

     Viewed through a coarsely-grained lens, sex is just a variety of agreeable physical contact between bodies. Why should it differ emotionally from other physical activities we enjoy? What makes it so special?

     The mystery deepens when we note that there are devices, available for a few dollars, that can excite the body to greater degrees of pleasure than ordinary sex, or even extraordinary sex, could ever achieve. Yet people overwhelmingly prefer the genuine article, with all its muss, fuss, occasions for embarrassment, and potential for social and emotional disaster....

     You have to open your defensive perimeter, your reflex-reaction zone, to let someone else get close enough to you to make love. A woman has to permit her man to enter her body. Each partner is in a state of total physical vulnerability while their embrace lasts. There are implications and overtones to this that no rationalization about sex being mere happy friction can erase.

     And it doesn't stop with the sexual embrace itself. No matter how often we tell ourselves otherwise, every sex act is a test of a proposition: "Will we be a unit? Will I share his home and bear his children? Will she stand by me in my battles and nurture me in my times of infirmity?"

     The unit of two is the unit best suited to human beings. One person can accept and bond to another on mutually agreed terms, with little or no ambiguity about the nature, obligations and extent of the intended relationship. Larger numbers don't work nearly as well. If you disagree, you've never been in politics.

     No amount of propaganda about sex being just one more way for people to enjoy their bodies can erase these facts. They are graven in our genes, and in our nature as a species....

     See that handsome stranger or pretty lady across the bar? What were you thinking a moment ago, about how it would be nice to try the night with him / her, and that it needn't come to more than that if it doesn't work out?

     Don't kid yourself, my friend. From the moment you first touch, forces will be unleashed in heaven and on Earth that will rock you to your core, and it won't matter a dented copper groat what your intentions were.

     Be smart. Know yourself. Know your species.

     Quite a lot of Americans who pooh-poohed that sturdy wisdom, gaily dismissing the warnings of parents and grandparents about casual sex, have reached their thirties, forties, and the years beyond alone. A large fraction of them have suffered painful divorces. Others have lost all contact with their children. Others have contracted diseases they could have avoided. Still others have become embroiled in legal complications from which escape seems indefinitely far off.

     Our predecessor generations knew all the hazards. They strove to impress us with them. And we laughed them off.


     The second sturdy wisdom is one for which I’ve been called a kook, a loon, a bizarro, out of touch with the realities of contemporary living. Indeed, this is one the effacement of which affected more than just the postwar generations. Huge industries have sprung up to exploit our foolishness, and have profited greatly from it.

Debt is slavery.

     If you are in debt, a part of the reward for your labor goes to others to service the debt. You can be legally penalized for failing to service your debts. You get nothing else for doing so. You are therefore, in part, a slave.

     Debt slavery is the chain that keeps many Americans working at jobs they’d love to slough. Financiers love it; the rest of us endure it to afford our “needs.”

     I revived an old Eternity Road essay on this subject earlier this year. It drew the same choruses of dismissal in 2017 as it had in 2006. Yet the truth of it remains beyond intelligent dispute:

     Many a reader has been saying to himself "But how could I get the things I need without incurring these debts?" for several paragraphs now. Such questions arise from a perverse sense of "need" far more often than not. Americans are hooked on material self-indulgence; easy credit is the pusher that feeds our habit. Most of what we have, we do not need. We want it, and we certainly enjoy it, but those are far different things.

     "Need" is the gateway drug. "Need" is habitually "defined down" over time: from a house, to a car, to better clothes, to a better car, to a really nice house in a "suitable" neighborhood, to designer jeans and sneakers for the kids, to the latest iPods®, to a PlayStation 3 ® and all the "hot" games for it, to a Giant Economy Size bottle of Chivas Regal to dull the pain from having to pay for all that stuff.

     Man's needs are food, clothing, shelter, and heat. All else is discretionary. The truly prudent man does not incur debt to pay for discretionary items.

     William Pitt said three centuries ago that “Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.” Nor was he incorrect. Those who hope for your enslavement have no better way of securing your collaboration in the project than by inducing you to incur debt.


     The third sturdy wisdom is one that informs most of my op-ed writing. It seems so perfectly obvious to me, yet millions upon millions of persons dispute it at a temperature that could set the world aflame. Indeed it has done so several times already.

Do not trust government or would-be governors.

     The man who wants power over you is inherently untrustworthy. For the love of God, think about it! Once you allow him power over you, he’ll be beyond your control. You’ll be stripped of the ability to defy him. When he does other than what he “promised” he would do, you’ll be without recourse.

     One of the most extraordinary aspects of the American Constitutional design, underappreciated even by the most erudite legal scholars, is this: The United States was designed to be an anarchy. The giveaway appears in the Sixth and Seventh Amendments:

     Amendment VI: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

     Amendment VII: In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

     The right of trial by jury says, in so many words, that you cannot be punished by State decree. You can only be punished by the judgment and with the consent of your peers. But a State that cannot inflict punishment upon its subjects without their explicit consent is not a State in the original sense of the word: an organization that commands the pre-indemnified use of force, whether initiated or in response.

     The statists that rule this once free country have made a mockery of those guarantees. They’ve done it with “prosecutorial discretion,” with laundry-list charges and “plea bargaining,” with the silencing of the right of jury nullification, and perhaps worst of all with administrative laws created and imposed by unaccountable bureaucrats, entirely outside the Constitutional requirements on the law.

     We permitted it. We were told it was “necessary,” that the usual processes of legislation and judicial operation were “inefficient,” “unsuited to our complex modern era.” And we swallowed it whole. The ghost of William Pitt must have wept at the sight. Yet people ask me why I study the skies each night, hoping for a convenient planetoid.


     There are some indications that those sturdy wisdoms are being rediscovered. Those who rediscover them often do so in a spirit of “if only I had known.” The understanding that debt is a form of self-imposed slavery is receiving particular respect: millions of Americans discovered during the recent recession that the deep financial holes they’d excavated for themselves shackled them more tightly than they could endure. The other sturdy wisdoms are singing less audibly, but there are some hopeful signs.

     It’s time we admitted how little we really know, and how much there is to learn from the experiences of others...especially others who have already run the race to completion and would happily tell us about the hazards they encountered along the course.

3 comments:

Linda Fox said...

Brilliant, just Brilliant, as the British say.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why the courts have allowed the double jeopardy rule to be violated by:
- losers in criminal courts pursuing actions FOR THE SAME CRIME in civil court (OJ Simpson). Yes, I realize that popular sentiment was in favor of it, but it's still wrong.
- civil rights trials against state crimes. Again, understandable, but, not right.
- administrative courts imposing massive penalties without an opportunity to face your accuser, have your case heard by a jury, or appeal a verdict to an IMPARTIAL court.

I can only pray that some of the Leftists on the Supreme Court and other courts will decide to retire. I will not wish them dead.
But, I will not be unhappy if their place opened up during Trump's term.

David Drake said...

"administrative laws created and imposed by unaccountable bureaucrats, entirely outside the Constitutional requirements on the law"

That is so spot-on accurate. Our justice system has been twisted up so badly with judicial activism. It's grown into "The Blob" with a life of its own (the judiciary).

Weetabix said...

It's like the Gods of the Copybook Headings, only updated.

Funny... I've harped on all three of these wisdoms for years with my kids. The first and third are pretty easy. I've really beaten them on the head with the debt is slavery one. They seem to be doing well with all three so far. Here's hoping.