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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Forgiveness and Punishment

Gentlemen, there's been talk on the old Common Man blog about consequences, specifically those that don't happen to bullies, gangsters, and other miscreants as often as they should.  Well, the rest of us actually do face them, but it's not always guaranteed.  Why is that, we wonder?

Many of us believe there is some form of Supreme Being who metes out rewards and punishments, not just in the afterlife but in this life.  But how does this Omnipotence decide who gets what?  It's not as clear-cut as Santa Claus making a "nice list" and a "naughty list," and we don't always get gifts!

Here's my theory:

(1)  Free Passes:  Some of us try to live our lives with a little bit more discipline than others.  Call it a moral code, a higher calling, whatever you'd like to call it.  However, even those in this group can slip up, screw up, or even fudge details once in a blue moon.  Once these people do it, they get credit against any likely consequences due to their overall character.  Accordingly, this is why sometimes our L-D can "let things slide," because He's is confident that this is not happening more than once or twice in a thousand instances.

(2)  Lack of Responsibility:  Every now and then, however, some of us will really do someone else wrong.  Maybe a break-up without a make-up.  Maybe a little white lie that turned ugly colors.  Maybe a zig when a major zag was required.  And maybe we've either (a) given a half-assed apology just to shut someone up; or (b) not cared.  When this happens, you're more likely to receive a come-around in your face in response to the go-around you caused.  Chances are, it'll be sticky, unpleasant, and possibly expensive.  But once you realize it's got you, stop fighting it and ride it out.  You may not have been forgiven for your misdeeds, but once you've paid the price, keep the receipt!  Learn from it.  Discipline yourself.  And once its over, even if nobody else wants to forgive you, forgive yourself.  Maybe after a while you'll earn another free pass.

(3)  Some People Just Don't Get It:  Even when some people do receive their well-deserved comeuppance, it doesn't change anything.  Personally, I know of a former bully who had punishment rained on him later in life.  Spent well more than four years in college with no actual major or job prospects, still lives with his parents, and has barely any friends.  Did this humble him?  Not in the slightest!  He's still the same in-your-face, might-makes-right tough guy he was before!  And then there was another guy who was the consummate BS artist who took advantage of those who weren't as slick as he was.  His fiancee left him, he maxed out his unemployment, and also went to live with his parents.  Did that teach him a lesson?  Oh please!!!!!!!  If these characters would only put two and two together, they'd be able to actually get through their punishment and save the receipt, as described above.

Anybody out there know someone who has consequences coming their way and doesn't get it?  I probably do, but I've agreed to stay away from controversial topics for the time being.

Feel free to comment and like!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy July 4th, America!

Declare Your Independence!

Today is a special day, gentlemen.  On this date in 1776, leaders of the Continental Congress chose to be bold and daring, take a huge risk, and write a nice long letter to the King of England setting forth every unjust act he'd done to the 13 colonies, calling him out for what he'd done, and severing all governmental ties between what was now the United States of America and Britain.

For this historically conscious among us, let's examine the text of this document, rephrase it into modern-day parlance, and incorporate the spirit behind it to our own lives:

"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."

In other words, if one people finds it necessary to separate or detach from another people to whom they've been connected, and strike out on their own, common courtesy says we explain why it's happening.  These gentlemen obviously wanted to be polite, in giving notice of their intentions, but direct, in stating exactly why the relationship was about to end.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

In other words, we are just the same as you, and we deserve the same rights that you enjoy under your government.  Since we're not getting those same rights, we don't need to live under your government, so we're rejecting it and setting up our own, and making it even better than yours!

"Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government."

In other words, we're not just doing this because we woke up one morning and decided to be different for one day.  If there were only trifling matters we'd just shake it off and live with it.  Thing is, though, we've been suffering a lot of injustice for a long time, and looking the other way just isn't working anymore.  After all we've been through, we have no choice but to take it all in a new direction.

"The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world."

In other words, here are the facts -- just look what this autocrat has been doing!  He won't sign off on laws that the people need, or allow his appointed governors to do likewise!  Or worse, he'll require the people to waive their rights to representation in the Legislature.  Better yet, he'll call legislative meetings at the worst possible times and places just to wear people down so they'll do what he wants!  He forces judges to rule his way.  He sends armies to "patrol" us during peacetime without our consent, forces us to allow them to live in our homes whenever they feel like it, and when they murder our citizens, he stages "mock trials" to let them off!  Taxation without consent, no trial by jury, false criminal charges, arbitrary government, abolition of our own laws, impression of our citizens into his navy, and just when it can't get even worse, inciting the native Americans to massacre us (the original text is not politically correct regarding this last issue)!

"In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people."  

In other words, we tried to seek relief, but he just doesn't care.

"Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends." 

Even the rest of Britain doesn't care about us either -- so the heck with them too!

"We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

Based upon the above, we are no longer British colonies, but instead are 13 independent, but united, states.  We know the risks involved, and we're not afraid, no matter what!

Some of you may find yourselves unnecessarily bound to a tyrannical, oppressive, bullying, autocratic, dictatorial force at a time where such condition is no longer needed or helpful.  Chances are, you might also be suffering from the negative effects of favoritism, nepotism, or other forms of disparate treatment.  As the text above states, it's usually human nature to just put up with it, tolerate it, and say "that's life."  But there comes a point where you have to say no, that's not life, that's wrong!

Maybe there's a family member who thinks they "pwn" you, to use some gamer language.  Declare your independence from them!  If you're able to do so, show them that you are grown, make your own decisions, and don't need their approval for anything you choose to do!

Maybe there's a classmate at school who is permitted to harrass and intimidate you without fear of consequences or punishment (thank you school administrators).  Maybe he thinks he's got a free pass to do and say whatever he wants to you with no remorse and no regret.  Declare your independence from him too!  He doesn't run the school (thank you again, school administrators)!  He doesn't have authority to pronounce who you are, how smart you are, how good you are, or what you can do.  Don't Let Him!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And how do you do this?  Follow the example of our Founding Fathers, of course!

(1)  BE CLEAR ABOUT IT.  That flowery "when in the course of human events" paragraph was the 18th century way of telling the British monarchy that they were about to be placed on notice of their transgressions and the consequences.

(2)  EXPLAIN WHY IT'S WRONG.  You and I may know that it's "self-evident."  Whoever thinks it's OK to "pwn" you is CLUELESS to that which is self-evidence because THEY ARE NOT SELF-AWARE, and need explanations.

(3)  READ THEM THE LIST.  Assuming you've documented them well enough, of course.  It's hard for most self-aware individuals to explain away their documented actions.  The CLUELESS ones, of course, will try to convince you (and themselves) that it never happened in the first place.

(4)  TELL THEM THE GRAVY TRAIN IS OVER.  Oppressors in all walks of life get accustomed to receiving too many free passes.  They must be clearly notified that they will no longer receive them, and that boundaries have now been erected.

(5)  BE AWARE OF WHAT YOU RISK.  Our Founding Fathers were not drafting a school term paper there.  The more liberal among you will note that they were all white males over the age of 21 who owned property (including slaves).  Putting that annoying issue to the wayside, they faced grave danger signing that document.  Several of them were murdered by the British, some of them lost their property, some of them were poor and penniless after the war.
Not to say that this will happen to you if you declare your own independence.  The last thing you need is another reason to put it off.  Just be prepared for whatever consequences your former oppressors might throw at you.  Make a plan, if you have to.  But bottom line, just be ready.

Happy Independence Day, America!