Freedom’s Last Ring
James E. Smith
From a Newsweek story on MSNBC:
“Security will require another type of sacrifice of freedoms. In the NEWSWEEK Poll, voters say they are willing to give up privacy in air travel, but they are more skeptical of other measures, such as surveillance of e-mail and phone conversations. By a 62-32 percent margin, they reject “special surveillance” of Arab-Americans. Yet even before last week’s attacks, the Senate intelligence committee had voted extra funds for Internet surveillance and “profiling” measures, and agitation for more is sure to mount.” (Emphasis Mine)
“Governments need enemies to justify their existence.” — Edward Abbey: The Monkey Wrench Gang
“Those who trade liberty for security will soon have neither.”– Benjamin Franklin
The most devastating effect (“impact” for those of you dedicated to the dumbing down of America) of this tragedy will be that the government will use this as an excuse to remove the last vestige of privacy and freedom from America. You may expect continual surveillance of personal movement. All travel, especially air travel, between regions or even states will be regulated and tracked. There will be a day when passports and permits will be required for internal movement in the US. “Ve must see your papers”
Before the fall of the Soviet Union, I stated that, in terms of freedom, they were becoming more like us and we more like them. Someday we would meet in the middle and cross. I did not expect it to be this soon.
The really terrible part about this is that it is unnecessary. It is all the result of our insatiable appetite for oil. Consider what we have spent to guarantee the constant flow of “black gold”. How much to support or suborn various countries in the region? How many lives have been sacrificed for this? How many more dollars/lives will we spend?
What if we had expended the same effort in resources and time to find and develop a substitute for oil as a fuel to move cars, boats and planes? There are many other demands for petroleum, of course. Almost everything we use, from paint to plastics is based in part on oil. Even so, by eliminating it as a fuel, the demand would be so much less that people would not have to die to ensure the supply.
Sure, the oil barons in this country and others would suffer. Many might have to trade their Mercedes for Buicks and their Lears for Cessnas. For one, that’s a sacrifice I would be willing to make. How about you, Mr. President?
Is It Important If Jesus Existed?
There is not much evidence to support the actual existence of the biblical Jesus. Does it really matter? Which is more important, the message of peace, tolerance, and love or the physical presence of an individual person who may or may not have actually existed?
The message of Jesus, as most would believe, is to “Love thy neighbor as thyself”, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In modern language, treat people fairly, honestly, and without prejudice or intolerance. That’s pretty simple and good advice. True, it’s not always so easy to do, but, acting in our own best interests, it is a good way to live. Cheating people, taking advantage of them, or otherwise hurting someone unnecessarily will ultimately not be good for ourselves. So, whether Jesus actually existed is not nearly as important as following the very good, true advice attributed to him.
Consider this. What if there were no record of say, Thomas Jefferson, until 40 or 50 years after his death? Then, there were suddenly one, then several people writing about things he said or did. Would modern day people doubt his actual existence and believe he was a fable like Paul Bunyan or Pecos Bill?
In the case of the historical Jesus, there is not one contemporary record of his existence. The Romans, who otherwise kept very good records, never mentioned a figure who was supposed to be socially, politically, and spiritually so significant. Not until the Gospel of Mark, written from 40 to over 100 years after the supposed crucifixion, is there any mention of Jesus. If we look at the fables of Horus, Attis, and Mithra, we see amazing similarities. Born in low circumstances on December 25, 12 followers, executed at an early age, son of a god, resurrected, the list goes on. It would appear that the early church, in need of a powerful central figure, “borrowed” from earlier myths to create a rallying point for their religion.
As stated by Dr. Bart Ehrman, Professor of religious studies at the University of North Caroline, Chapel Hill, NC said, “In the entire first Christian century, Jesus is not mentioned by a single Greek or Roman scholar, politician, philosopher, or poet. His name never appears in a single inscription, and it is never found in a single piece of private correspondence. Zero! Zip references!”
Again, what does it matter? The important thing is the message. Be good to each other, help the less fortunate, do not discriminate because someone is not like you. Be like the Good Samaritan and act kindly to all. Are those things more valuable if they were spoken by an actual person or lessons a group of people agreed were important? Being able to assemble these things into a coherent collection of quotations from one person makes them easier to understand and practice. Maybe that’s what the founders of the religion had in mind?