Category Archives: independence

Political Peer Pressure

Apparently our two party system puts a tremendous strain on individual integrity.  Only the strong survive.  We observe a congress where the members vote along party lines regardless of their true convictions or the wishes of their constituency.  The pressure must be intense.  I say this because most Republicans and Democrats are swept along with the tide of their leadership’s agenda instead of standing on principle, truth or, sadly, logic and common sense.  This means if the leadership is idiotic, those who cannot resist the pressure of their peers will decide to be idiotic also!  They will “go along to get along.”

Is anyone left who will stand for what they believe regardless?  Is there anyone left who will truly represent those who elected him or her?  If they are “out there,” let’s find them and elevate them to leadership in our poor, confused, declining nation.  Looking critically at our sacred three-branched government, I don’t think we’ve found them yet.

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Filed under Courage, Culture Wars, Current Events, Discernment, honor, Incompetence, independence, Initiative, Integrity, Politics, Ron Paul, Trust

The Grassroots Imperative

Big “agribusiness” is not about to change its ways.  They are greedy profit-driven monsters with enough lobbyists in Washington and courtroom lawyers to keep the government and the courts off their backs.  They are big bullies that are too powerful to defeat.

Just think about it.  To put these bullies in their place would require equal justice in the courts and a majority of ethical senators and representatives.  Don’t hold your breath!

So, what’s left?  Only ourselves and our small farms and backyard gardens.  We must start growing as much of our own food as possible.  Take out those lawns and put in fruits and vegetables.  Get some chickens for eggs and maybe some meat and, if you have room, a milk cow or goat.  Get the rest from local farmers and organic food stores.

If you can’t defeat them, desert them.

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Filed under Awareness, Courage, Culture Wars, Current Events, Economics, Food, Freedom, Good & Evil, Home and Garden, independence, Initiative, Integrity, Organic, Politics, Vegetable Gardening

Bandwagons

I’m not referring to actual wagons hauling actual band members. I’m talking about groups of people who have decided to think the same way without due consideration of all the information. Humans have a natural tendency to conform (fashions, fads, etc.) The few real non-conformists get the label “eccentric,” and summarily dismissed. That label applied to my father who always thought for himself. He was a curmudgeon with few friends, but he called it as he saw it (even if the way he saw it was screwed up). His main fault was making up his mind so solidly that it took a charge of dynamite to loosen him up to alternative thinking.

I especially notice the bandwagon effect expressed in blogs. For example, there are blogs where independent thinkers can express their independent thinking to other independent thinkers (bandwagons) and, in the process, lose their independence. Members of Political parties often confine themselves to party lines (bandwagons) instead of opening themselves up to other points of view. Members of certain religious groups are very often willing victims of “groupthink” (bandwagons) with their own special jargon. Atheists tend to stick together and parrot the current atheistic cant (bandwagons).

Bandwagons, I am thinking, come into being because people want to believe certain things and behave in particular ways rather than basing their personal philosophies and resulting actions on something substantial. Or, in the absence of substance, reserving their conclusions until they find it (it is, after all, okay not to have an opinion on everything).

While reading in the blogosphere, I notice that people who believe a certain way tend to read the blogs of others who believe the same way and merely applaud, cheer and conform to the thinking of the group. For them, “hopping on the bandwagon” becomes a convenient way to avoid thinking for themselves. Hats off to those brave and hardy souls who dare to disagree, challenge and debate those with whom they differ. We need to jump off our bandwagons and consider what others are saying. We might agree, disagree, challenge, debate, correct, suggest, applaud or, most important of all…learn.

My blogs:
Whitticisms: dwhitsett.wordpress.com
In the Charamon Garden: charamongarden.wordpress.com
Whitsett Carving: whitcarv.wordpress.com
Mission South Pacific: missionsouthpacific.wordpress.com

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Filed under Apologetics, Atheism/Theism, Discernment, Discussion, Faith, Ignorance, independence, Intelligence, Mind, Persuasion, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Skepticism, Theism, Thinking

Walk Like an Egyptian

We’ve all been watching the events in Egypt (you have to, that’s about all that’s been on the news) with rapt attention.  The non-stop rally in Cairo’s Tahrir square has us (or, at least the news casters) spellbound.  Would Mubarak step down?  What would happen if he did not?  How would control be reestablished?  What will be the outcome of this semi-peaceful revolution? Will “…free and fair presidential elections,” really eventuate?  So many questions answered only in time. Speculation about the future is largely just that.

But I am impressed with the people, aren’t you? They finally had enough. They demonstrated that in the only way left to them: demonstrations. Too many died…too many were wounded but the demonstrations were mostly non-violent. Their demands were amazingly cohesive.  Primarily, they wanted an end to the thirty-year autocratic rule of a man who clung to power like it was his lifeline.

It all made me thankful to live in a real, live democracy where we, the people, can bring about change by going to the polls. Yes, we demonstrate, but we call them “political rallies.” Whether or not you agree with the “Tea Party,” you have to give them credit for bringing about change in a peaceful manner. There comes a time when the people (last I checked, this is still a government of the people) must say, “Enough!  We demand change!” The major flaw in our system, it seems to me, is when our judicial branch unilaterally decides what is best for us (another topic for another time).

The people of the Middle East have thrown a big rock in the autocratic pools of their nations beginning with Tunisia. The ripples will be felt for years to come. All reasonable people hope the resulting waves will be peaceful. Indications from Yemen and Algeria, however, point to something more violent.

Because of the internet, people around the world who are fed up with dictators and repressive regimes are taking to the streets. Freedom is in the air. Let’s hope that oppressed souls everywhere will have the courage to walk like an Egyptian.

My Blogs:
Whitticisms:
dwhitsett.wordpress.com
In the Charamon Garden: charamongarden.wordpress.com
Whitsett Carving: whitcarv.wordpress.com
Mission South Pacific: missionsouthpacific.wordpress.com

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Filed under Change Agent, Culture Wars, Current Events, Dictatorship, Egypt, Freedom, independence, Middle East, morality, Peace, Politics, Revolution

Constant Growth: Abnormal?

If I understand what is being said by those who are supposed to know: we are in a recession because we are not growing economically.  I may be hopelessly naïve, but it seems to me that growth has to end somewhere.  If a human keeps growing, we will call him abnormal.  If a plant keeps growing, we take the pruners or clippers to it.  In other words, constant growth seems abnormal.  When is enough enough?  When do we quit being concerned about industrial and economic growth and start concentrating on consolidation?  When do we stop accumulating wealth and start feeding the hungry (we have an obscene amount of hunger in this country given our wealth) and clothing the naked…or, at least, help the victims become productive and less dependent?  I’m just saying…

And he said to them, “Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages” (Luke 3:14).

If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content (1 Timothy 6:8).

Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have (Hebrews 13:5).

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Filed under Blessings, Culture Wars, Current Events, Economics, Faith, homelessness, independence, Politics, Random Thoughts

The Paradox of Afghan-American History

I relish the study of history.  The stories of nations, tribes and peoples of ages past have much to teach us.  These days, however, I often wonder why we study and teach history at all.  If we refuse to learn from it, then why not ignore it altogether?  This is especially true when it comes to the war with the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

The United States of America is a relatively young country…only a couple centuries old.  But enough history has occurred to teach some truths about the American people.  Admiral Yamamoto may not have spoken some variation of the famous line in the motion picture, Tora! Tora! Tora!, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve,” but it states a historical truth: you can attack the U.S., but then you’d better find some place to hide.

It is difficult to understand what Al Qaeda sought to accomplish by bringing down the World Trade Towers.  But, as the Japanese found out subsequent to Pearl Harbor, American reprisal is dogged, determined and swift.  As they did in 1941, Americans rallied ‘round the flag, mourned their dead, praised their heroic police and firefighters then turned to find and destroy the enemy.  Bin Laden is smart to cower in mountain caves and never show himself again.  He will have to continue to hide until he dies or is caught, tried and executed.  History teaches that truth, justice and the American way yet survive to fuel a terrible resolve.

Afghanistan has a much longer history which teaches that the Afghan people will never be subjugated for long by any outside power.  Check with Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, the Persians, Russians and the British.  I recently talked with a young, former sergeant who served several tours in Afghanistan.  I asked him, “What should America do about the war in Afghanistan?”  His answer was quick and direct, “We should get out as fast as we can.”

The truth about both Iraq and Afghanistan is historically based.  More than dictators or any other form of oppression, the thing they hate the most is a foreign army, especially if that army is made up of “infidels.”  Recent polls have shown that, for the most part, the Afghan people hate the coalition presence.  Once they leave, history teaches that all the changes the troops have fought and died for will most likely be reversed and the Afghans will revert to their former state of affairs.  This writer firmly believes that too much blood has been shed already for nothing.  History screams its agreement.

Here’s another related historical truth: nation building is risky and often a fool’s errand.  It worked in Germany and Japan because the Allies initially took over completely.  Somalia and Haiti are pure failures.  We never even got started in Viet Nam.  Freedom and democracy are not our gifts to give.  A nation must pay for it with its own blood sweat and tears.  Only then will they value and cherish it.  Can we give this gift to Iraq, Afghanistan?  Not unless they want it enough to struggle and suffer for it.  History is a great teacher, but only if the students pay attention.

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Filed under Change Agent, Culture Wars, Current Events, History, Ignorance, independence, Islam, Middle East, Peace, Politics

The Christian Difference — 3

The essence of religion consists in the feeling of an absolute dependence.
Friedrich Schleiermacher

In a world where selfishness reigns and materialism prevails, Christians are different. We are different because we strive for complete dependence upon God; easy to say…hard to achieve.  One outstanding example of success is George Mueller.  In the 1830’s he began to build orphanages in the city of Bristol, England.  Mueller was a man of prayer.  He never asked for a penny for his work, depending instead upon the providence of God.  He built and supplied the orphanages without ever incurring debt.  During WWII, Bristol underwent heavy bombing attacks by the Luftwaffe.  But, instead of scattering for the safety of bomb shelters, many of the people of Bristol stood around the orphanage buildings defiantly praying for God’s protection.  George Mueller would have been proud!

Jesus demonstrates complete dependence upon the Father.

John 5:19 Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
30 I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

So, how can we who follow Christ be content to depend upon ourselves or any other human institution?  Well, that’s easy – they are tangible. But tangible does not equate with trustworthy.  As the old song reminds us:

Stand up, stand up for Jesus! Stand in His strength alone,
The arm of flesh will fail you, ye dare not trust your own;

— George Duffield, Jr. – 1858

It’s our human tendency to trust observable things.  But, God calls us to trust His intangible self.  Just like Israel, we drift back toward our idols because we can, at least, see them – touch them.

It is easy for us to get sucked up with millions of others in the pandemic of entitlement and dependence upon the money, military might, justice, democratic process and promised protection of the State.  But, as the psalmist said, “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man” (118:8).  Jeremiah says,

This is what the LORD says:
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who depends on flesh for his strength
and whose heart turns away from the LORD.

On the other hand…

…blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.
8 He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:5ff)

A culture of dependence upon material possessions, government welfare and our 401K, works until hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes, disease and catastrophe remind us that such trust is misplaced.

Psalm 37:5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.

Even though my livelihood depends on the generosity of my partners, I have difficulty depending on others…including God.  I carelessly and prayerlessly make plans, start projects, set out on journeys, deal with problems and worry about the future. I think this is partly because I’m a child of the West Texas culture of independence.  At home, at school and the workplace I was taught not to depend on others but to “pull myself up by my own boot straps.”  But here’s the fundamental fallacy: no one succeeds without help and opportunities provided by others.  Alas, another flaw keeps even this proposition from being completely trustworthy – others are human.  Humans are fallible.  We forget stuff, overlook things.  We tend to be self-centered, self-interested, forgetful, insensitive, careless and foolish.  We easily disappoint each other and cannot co-exist without heavy doses of forbearance, patience, love and forgiveness.  Only one being is infallible and absolutely dependable – God.

The task for one as unfinished as I is to murder self-trust (in cold blood); wrap it in my cast-off pride, resolutely dig a hole in my self-sufficiency and bury it.  As Oswald Chambers put it, “Beware of refusing to go to the funeral of your own independence.”

In these early years of the 21st Century, the greenback of the U.S. dollar still bears the phrase, “In God we trust.”  But, in what do we trust really? Is it money, position, power, possessions, appearance?  Would you agree that these are fleeting and fragile?  Ultimately, we can only depend upon God.  We look to His promises for something to hold on to – something solid, beneficial, hopeful and wise.  It is this solid dependence upon God that sets Christians apart.  It is one of the differences we must understand, practice and allow the world to see.

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Filed under Christlikeness, dependence, Faith, independence, Supernatural, Trust