Saturday, December 22, 2012

Common Sense
by James the History Cat

James, a connoisseur of history.
In human history, ignorance has
never resulted in bliss.
Once again this country is in mourning.  Somehow it is always the most vulnerable among us that bear the brunt of our ignorance.  When Thomas Paine needed to wake up a group of confused and disoriented victims of misguided power, he published an argument called 'Common Sense'.  It was the pivotal turning point in American politics.  He began his exhortation by saying, "a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right".  We are about to undergo another painful and vindictive national argument about gun control, mental illness, government health care and individual rights.  As is our habit, we will once again fail to move against that which we have been taught to believe is right.  We will not recognize superficiality.  Not unless we use common sense.

Thomas Paine was an 'enlightened' radical
who felt that Church and State were a single
corrupt organization that did not act in the
best interests of the people.  In his day it was
believed that God placed a King upon his throne,
and to criticize one was to criticize the other.
We call this a Christian country because the majority of the voting populace call themselves Christians. There is a strong tendency for believers to feel about political issues the way they feel about their religious tenets; that there is no room for compromise, and that the principles governing each issue are somehow related to pleasing and serving The Almighty.  God and Country have philosophically become one.  So compromise on gun legislation means a slippery slope to one day not being able to defend God's America from people who want to destroy our freedoms, and therefore there can be no movement but forward. There exists a whole raft of fear-filled reasoning greasing that slope, but I think you get the idea.

How A Bill Becomes A Law, Step 1
The First Amendment provides for the right of the people
"to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
In this scenerio, a manufacturer of 'Widgets' is grieved by
international trade restrictions, tax liabilities, and environ-
mental restrictions burdening his manufacturing processes.
He exercises his right to petition for change by appoaching
an elected official whom he feels may be sensitive to his needs.
What we actually value is money and power. If you follow the money, you can determine the true motivation of anything.  Special interests have spent ample time and resources molding and marketing specific issue-related fears and selling them to you as your own.   Critical thinking requires careful thought, and it challenges sacred icons.  It is a painful process, and one we have abandoned for a more palatable diet of quick sound bites and biased media commentary.  Prepackaged philosophies render voters emotionally content and keep political lobbies in business.
How A Bill Becomes A Law, Step 2.
Having come to a philosophical agreement,
the Widget entrepeneur feels grateful for the
heartfelt concern of his selected government
representative, and suggests legal methods
whereby he can express his gratitude.  It is
in everyone's interest if Mr. Widget's
government ally stays in political office.

The problem is not gun control.  It is our inability to hold two or more seemingly opposing thoughts in our head at one time.   It is not being willing to compromise on anything. It is not accepting common sense legislation because we are told it conflicts with quasi-religious political dogma.  This is why our children are vulnerable, not just to guns, but to every potential danger that a profit-driven political policy can produce.

How A Bill Becomes A Law, Step 3.
As time passes business increases, as does
Mr. Widget's political needs, and the cost of
his political patronage.  Protective legislation  

is required.  In certain aspects of
American life, Widgets become too big to fail.
Eventually we cannot imagine life without
Special interest organizations hire psychologists and political strategists to determine key arguments that will motivate 'uniformed voters'.  What a compliment to the American voting public, that rich self-promoting people rely on the support of an ignorant, lazy and fearful populace that can no longer discern ethical truth.  I like to think that one day we will prove them wrong.

How A Bill Becomes A Law, Step 4
Paid professionals determine how the voting public should feel about Widgets.
If Widget popularity is properly linked to God and Country, a patriotic populace
will vote Widget, and be willing to fight and die for Widgets.

"And here, without anger or resentment I bid you farewell. Sincerely wishing, that as men and Christians, ye may always fully and uninterruptedly enjoy every civil and religious right; and be, in your turn, the means of securing it to others; but that the example which ye have unwisely set, of mingling religion with politics, may be disavowed and reprobated by every inhabitant of America."
-Thomas Paine, 'Common Sense'

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