Liberty the Loser

Democracy is great, unless its your team is on the wrong side of the results. For those of us independents, or invested in a “3rd party”, (Libertarian, Green, etc.), we feel like Democrats do today – and Republicans did this time two years ago – every election.

In America we vote not only on our various traditional political positions, (President, State Governor, State Treasurer, etc.), but also on positions like City Commissioner, School Board, Common Pleas Judge and Dog Catcher, (okay, that last one is a lie, just for some levity!). We also get to vote on “Issues”, which tend to be either to change/repeal a law, make a change to the State Constitution or for local levies/taxes, which all-in-all is a little like being asked to choose between being stabbed or bludgeoned.

Liberty, of course, is always the loser.


Maybe Arthur Jesus Is Better Than None!

In late 2009, I lost a pretty incredible job. It wasn’t the paid at the top rate in its industry, by any means, but it was the best wage I’d ever earned and it was a job that I was a natural fit for, (in fact, I had applied and interviewed for a different position, but some test results had the HR and management at the company ask me to me re-interview, for this other job!). The people were, on the whole, great, the work enjoyable and it was a short 10-minute commute. Then the economy started crashing and that was that. Lay-offs started and being fairly new to the company and not the most productive, (I can do high quality work, but it is apparently low in quantity), the axe fell upon my corporate neck. In those four-and-a-half years I’ve worked a total of seven months.

My wife & I sit, and plan and talk about all the stuff we want to do around here – the little businesses we want to start; the landscaping of our double lot into a self sufficient, crop growing wonderland – but it never happens. Most likely wont happen here, now, either.

The depression is terrible. It kills everything.

It hasn’t helped that, quite literally the only risk I’ve ever taken is coming to the USA to see if the internet romance we started could work in real life. My natural propensity is to have an idea, only to almost immediately dismiss it as a failure. Depression just makes this happen much quicker. So quick that anymore even mid-idea the vision of its total failure fills my mind and the thought dissipates.

I know I’m better than this. I am certain my wife and kids deserve more than this. But I just feel so lost in this whirlwind of life.

Sometimes I see the downturn in my fortunes and demeanor and that of this country and wonder… am I the King Arthur to the USA’s ancient Britain?! The apparent death of my homeownership on Good Friday has also made me wonder if this means that in three days I will rise from “the dead”. Maybe I’m just being delusional. Maybe its my mind just looking for patterns, as you do when looking at the whorls in a piece of polished wood and see the eyes and ghosts. Maybe all I need is to find that Holy Grail or to have someone roll away that stone. (Just noticed another link there, between the Holy Grail and Easter).

Oddly, the fog of depression and resignation has lifted a touch, as I write these words. Strange…

I Dreamed An American Dream…

There was a time when life seemed kind
Its circumstances soft
And the future inviting
There was a time when life was blind
And the world was a song
And the song was exciting
There was a time
Then it all went wrong

I dreamed an American dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that youth would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving

Then I was young and unafraid
So American dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung
No wine untasted

But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
And they turn your dream to shame

As I grew up, it turned the tide
And filled my days with endless stresses
It took my childhood in his stride
But it was gone when hard times came
And still I dream it’ll come to me
That I will live the good years again
But these are American dreams that might not be
And there are storms we might not weather

I had an American dream my life would be
So different from this hell I’m living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed
The American dream I dreamed

The Wolf Speaks To America From 1000 Years Ago

This Christmas, I treated myself to Melvyn Bragg’s book The Adventure of English: The Biography of a Language. I started reading it immediately. I’m only a few chapters in, but I thoroughly recommend the book for any English speaker.

Although I am not a Christian myself – I consider myself a neo-pagan, though if I had been initiated I would be calling myself Wiccan – being someone whose political ideologies are on the right, I find myself coming into contact with quite a few people on Twitter or FaceBook that are Christian. In Mr. Bragg’s book, at the end of ChapterTtwo, there is an excerpt from an Old English writing, from 1014 that sounded a lot like what these Christian voices are saying now.

One thousand years ago, during a period in English history that saw frequent Viking raids around the British Isles, a homily was written, aimed at the English people and written in their own, young language, calling on themes that have been used down the years and, as I said, currently expressed by Christians in America.

The homily was written by the English cleric, Wulfstan, during a time when he was simultaneously holding the positions of Bishop of Worcester and Archbishop of York. Wulfstan wrote under the nom de plume of Lupus, the Latin for wolf, which came from the first half of his name. Below is a translation of the homily into Modern English.

The sermon of the Wolf to the English, when the Danes were greatly persecuting them, which was in the year 1014 after the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Beloved men, know that which is true: this world is in haste and it nears the end. And therefore things in this world go ever the longer the worse, and so it must needs be that things quickly worsen, on account of people’s sinning from day to day, before the coming of Antichrist. And indeed it will then be awful and grim widely throughout the world. Understand also well that the Devil has now led this nation astray for very many years, and that little loyalty has remained among men, though they spoke well. And too many crimes reigned in the land, and there were never many of men who deliberated about the remedy as eagerly as one should, but daily they piled one evil upon another, and committed injustices and many violations of law all too widely throughout this entire land.

And we have also therefore endured many injuries and insults, and if we shall experience any remedy then we must deserve better of God than we have previously done. For with great deserts we have earned the misery that is upon us, and with truly great deserts we must obtain the remedy from God, if henceforth things are to improve. Lo, we know full well that a great breach of law shall necessitate a great remedy, and a great fire shall necessitate much water, if that fire is to be quenched. And it is also a great necessity for each of men that he henceforth eagerly heed the law of God better than he has done, and justly pay God’s dues. In heathen lands one does not dare withhold little nor much of that which is appointed to the worship of false gods; and we withhold everywhere God’s dues all too often. And in heathen lands one dares not curtail, within or without the temple, anything brought to the false gods and entrusted as an offering. And we have entirely stripped God’s houses of everything fitting, within and without, and God’s servants are everywhere deprived of honor and protection. And some men say that no man dare abuse the servants of false gods in any way among heathen people, just as is now done widely to the servants of God, where Christians ought to observe the law of God and protect the servants of God.

But what I say is true: there is need for that remedy because God’s dues have diminished too long in this land in every district, and laws of the people have deteriorated entirely too greatly, since Edgar died. And sanctuaries are too widely violated, and God’s houses are entirely stripped of all dues and are stripped within of everything fitting. And widows are widely forced to marry in unjust ways and too many are impoverished and fully humiliated; and poor men are sorely betrayed and cruelly defrauded, and sold widely out of this land into the power of foreigners, though innocent; and infants are enslaved by means of cruel injustices, on account of petty theft everywhere in this nation. And the rights of freemen are taken away and the rights of slaves are restricted and charitable obligations are curtailed. Free men may not keep their independence, nor go where they wish, nor deal with their property just as they desire; nor may slaves have that property which, on their own time, they have obtained by means of difficult labor, or that which good men, in Gods favor, have granted them, and given to them in charity for the love of God. But every man decreases or withholds every charitable obligation that should by rights be paid eagerly in Gods favor, for injustice is too widely common among men and lawlessness is too widely dear to them. And in short, the laws of God are hated and his teaching despised; therefore we all are frequently disgraced through God’s anger, let him know it who is able. And that loss will become universal, although one may not think so, to all these people, unless God protects us.

Therefore it is clear and well seen in all of us that we have previously more often transgressed than we have amended, and therefore much is greatly assailing this nation. Nothing has prospered now for a long time either at home or abroad, but there has been military devastation and hunger, burning and bloodshed in nearly every district time and again. And stealing and slaying, plague and pestilence, murrain and disease, malice and hate, and the robbery by robbers have injured us very terribly. And excessive taxes have afflicted us, and storms have very often caused failure of crops; therefore in this land there have been, as it may appear, many years now of injustices and unstable loyalties everywhere among men. Now very often a kinsman does not spare his kinsman any more than the foreigner, nor the father his children, nor sometimes the child his own father, nor one brother the other. Neither has any of us ordered his life just as he should, neither the ecclesiastic according to the rule nor the layman according to the law. But we have transformed desire into laws for us entirely too often, and have kept neither precepts nor laws of God or men just as we should. Neither has anyone had loyal intentions with respect to others as justly as he should, but almost everyone has decieved and injured another by words and deeds; and indeed almost everyone unjustly stabs the other from behind with shameful assaults and with wrongful accusations — let him do more, if he may.

For there are in this nation great disloyalties for matters of the Church and the state, and also there are in the land many who betray their lords in various ways. And the greatest of all betrayals of a lord in the world is that a man betrays the soul of his lord. And it is the greatest of all betrayals of a lord in the world, that a man betray his lord’s soul. And a very great betrayal of a lord it is also in the world, that a man betray his lord to death, or drive him living from the land, and both have come to pass in this land: Edward was betrayed, and then killed, and after that burned; and Æthelred was driven out of his land. And too many sponsors and godchildren have been killed widely throughout this nation, in addition to entirely too many other innocent people who have been destroyed entirely too widely. And entirely too many holy religious foundations have deteriorated because some men have previously been placed in them who ought not to have been, if one wished to show respect to God’s sanctuary.

And too many Christian men have been sold out of this land, now for a long time, and all this is entirely hateful to God, let him believe it who will. Also we know well where this crime has occurred, and it is shameful to speak of that which has happened too widely. And it is terrible to know what too many do often, those who for a while carry out a miserable deed, who contribute together and buy a woman as a joint purchase between them and practice foul sin with that one woman, one after another, and each after the other like dogs that care not about filth, and then for a price they sell a creature of God — His own purchase that He bought at a great cost — into the power of enemies. Also we know well where the crime has occurred such that the father has sold his son for a price, and the son his mother, and one brother has sold the other into the power of foreigners, and out of this nation. All of those are great and terrible deeds, let him understand it who will. And yet what is injuring this nation is still greater and manifold: many are forsworn and greatly perjured and more vows are broken time and again, and it is clear to this people that God’s anger violently oppresses us, let him know it who can.

And lo! How may greater shame befall men through the anger of God than often does us for our own sins? Although it happens that a slave escape from a lord and, leaving Christendom becomes a Viking, and after that it happens again that a hostile encounter takes place between thane and slave, if the slave kills the thane, he lies without wergild paid to any of his kinsmen; but if the thane kills the slave that he had previously owned, he must pay the price of a thane. Full shameful laws and disgraceful tributes are common among us, through God’s anger, let him understand it who is able. And many misfortunes befall this nation time and again. Things have not prospered now for a long time neither at home nor abroad, but there has been destruction and hate in every district time and again, and the English have been entirely defeated for a long time now, and very truly disheartened through the anger of God. And pirates are so strong through the consent of God, that often in battle one drives away ten, and two often drive away twenty, sometimes fewer and sometimes more, entirely on account of our sins. And often ten or twelve, each after the other, insult the thane’s woman disgracefully, and sometimes his daughter or close kinswomen, while he looks on, he that considered himself brave and strong and good enough before that happened. And often a slave binds very fast the thane who previously was his lord and makes him into a slave through God’s anger. Alas the misery and alas the public shame that the English now have, entirely through God’s anger. Often two sailors, or three for a while, drive the droves of Christian men from sea to sea — out through this nation, huddled together, as a public shame for us all, if we could seriously and properly know any shame. But all the insult that we often suffer, we repay by honoring those who insult us. We pay them continually and they humiliate us daily; they ravage and they burn, plunder and rob and carry to the ship; and lo! what else is there in all these happenings except Gods anger clear and evident over this nation?

It is no wonder that there is mishap among us: because we know full well that now for many years men have too often not cared what they did by word or deed; but this nation, as it may appear, has become very corrupt through manifold sins and through many misdeeds: through murder and through evil deeds, through avarice and through greed, through stealing and through robbery, through man-selling and through heathen vices, through betrayals and through frauds, through breaches of law and through deceit, through attacks on kinsmen and through manslaughter, through injury of men in holy orders and through adultery, through incest and through various fornications. And also, far and wide, as we said before, more than should be are lost and perjured through the breaking of oaths and through violations of pledges, and through various lies; and non-observances of church feasts and fasts widely occur time and again. And also there are here in the land Gods adversaries, degenerate apostates, and hostile persecutors of the Church and entirely too many grim tyrants, and widespread despisers of divine laws and Christian virtues, and foolish deriders everywhere in the nation, most often of those things that the messengers of God command, and especially those things that always belong to Gods law by right. And therefore things have now come far and wide to that full evil way that men are more ashamed now of good deeds than of misdeeds; because too often good deeds are abused with derision and the Godfearing are blamed entirely too much, and especially are men reproached and all too often greeted with contempt who love right and have fear of God to any extent. And because men do that, entirely abusing all that they should praise and hating too much all that they ought to love, therefore they bring entirely too many to evil intentions and to misdeeds, so that they are never ashamed though they sin greatly and commit wrongs even against God himself. But on account of idle attacks they are ashamed to repent for their misdeeds, just as the books teach, like those foolish men who on account of their pride will not protect themselves from injury before they might no longer do so, although they all wish for it.

Here in the country, as it may appear, too many are sorely wounded by the stains of sin. Here there are, as we said before, manslayers and murderers of their kinsmen, and murderers of priests and persecutors of monasteries, and traitors and notorious apostates, and here there are perjurers and murderers, and here there are injurers of men in holy orders and adulterers, and people greatly corrupted through incest and through various fornications, and here there are harlots and infanticides and many foul adulterous fornicators, and here there are witches and sorceresses, and here there are robbers and plunderers and pilferers and thieves, and injurers of the people and pledge-breakers and treaty-breakers, and, in short, a countless number of all crimes and misdeeds. And we are not at all ashamed of it, but we are greatly ashamed to begin the remedy just as the books teach, and that is evident in this wretched and corrupt nation. Alas, many a great kinsman can easily call to mind much in addition which one man could not hastily investigate, how wretchedly things have fared now all the time now widely throughout this nation. And indeed let each one examine himself well, and not delay this all too long. But lo, in the name of God, let us do as is needful for us, protect ourselves as earnestly as we may, lest we all perish together.

There was a historian in the time of the Britons, called Gildas, who wrote about their misdeeds, how with their sins they infuriated God so excessively that He finally allowed the English army to conquer their land, and to destroy the host of the Britons entirely. And that came about, just as he said, through breach of rule by the clergy and through breach of laws by laymen, through robbery by the strong and through coveting of ill-gotten gains, violations of law by the people and through unjust judgments, through the sloth of the bishops and folly, and through the wicked cowardice of messengers of God, who swallowed the truths entirely too often and they mumbled through their jaws where they should have cried out; also through foul pride of the people and through gluttony and manifold sins they destroyed their land and they themselves perished. But let us do as is necessary for us, take warning from such; and it is true what I say, we know of worse deeds among the English than we have heard of anywhere among the Britons; and therefore there is a great need for us to take thought for ourselves, and to intercede eagerly with God himself. And let us do as is necessary for us, turn towards the right and to some extent abandon wrong-doing, and eagerly atone for what we previously transgressed; and let us love God and follow God’s laws, and carry out well that which we promised when we received baptism, or those who were our sponsors at baptism; and let us order words and deeds justly, and cleanse our thoughts with zeal, and keep oaths and pledges carefully, and have some loyalty between us without evil practice. And let us often reflect upon the great Judgment to which we all shall go, and let us save ourselves from the welling fire of hell torment, and gain for ourselves the glories and joys that God has prepared for those who work his will in the world. God help us. Amen.

America: Dumbed Down to 1984?

Maybe if education wasn’t focused on schools, bullshit tests, GPA’s etc. and more on common sense and critical thinking; maybe if media wasn’t so focused on the sensationalism of news that the twenty-four hour news cycle requires, or getting people their fifteen minutes of fame and glamorizing them when they are acting amorally; maybe if people accepted that their actions have consequences and learned a respect for themselves and others; maybe then, we would find that the media detritus like American Idol, Big Brother and Survivor, and the agitprop ramblings and bumper sticker catchphrases that pass for political speeches any more, would only get any credence with with the uneducated and mentally immature.

But in the current climate in America, anyone who wishes to have more freedom and liberty, less government, to homeschool or  unschool their kids, to turn off the “idiot box”, to keep handy the tools, skills and stores to survive an anticipated breakdown of society, to own a gun or have morals and a sense of responsibility and respect and look for statesmen to represent them and not self interested political hacks to “lead” them, well… they’re “tea baggers” and “bigots” and “tin foil hat” “RWNJ” extremists, to be considered as dangerous as those who really wish to do us harm.

Looks like the whole 1984 Newspeak state is here.

And the populace seems to be OK with that.


Can This Ship Be Turned Around?

There’s a lot of analogies out there, demonstrating the state of this great country of ours. Heading for a cliff and being the Titanic are just two. I’m going to go with the Titanic analogy.

Unfortunately, unlike the Titanic’s sole, only-seen-at-the-last-second iceberg predicament, there’s at least three big icebergs that we are headed for and we can see them on the close horizon, but no politician seems to want to do anything about it. Oh… they all talk about what they will do, but none of them act. I don’t see that any of the current crop of presidential candidates, especially the main contenders, will change the ship’s course, either through their ideology or the infinitesimal chance they have of election.

The first of the three icebergs, as I see them, is the current financial crisis. We don’t need increased revenues or balanced budgets or any of the “robbing Peter to pay Paul” shenanigans. What we need is a budget that drastically reduces government spending. Cut the duplication; reduce military spending, (i.e. bring all of our troops home); cut down on the levels of bureaucracy and the number bureaucrats needed to maintain those levels, even to the point of elimination of some Departments and agencies.

The second iceberg is our lack of freedoms. With every Act, (e.g. the PATRIOT Act,  the NDAA, etc.), that is passed, or program implemented, in order to make us feel safer, the freedoms we hold so dear are eroded. Its an often quoted line from Benjamin Franklin, but he is right: “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety”. What we need are people in place who can turn back these obscene acts of constraint and annulment of our freedoms, as written in the great, founding documents of our country, The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution.

A great example of this is the “gay marriage issue”. What the hell is the government doing dictating, through the provision, and requirement, of marriage licences, who may or may not be considered married? It should not be up to the government, even in cases where a couple wish to have a civil ceremony to demonstrate how deep their commitment to each other is. The only places that should could understandably be discriminating are those places that are a part of a particular religion that has a set stance on marriage. If you are a religious, gay couple and “your” church denounces such relationships, rather than whine and protest about it, just find a more accepting and compassionate form of your chosen religion that will perform a marriage for you.

The third iceberg is the morality of the country. Now, I’m not talking about any specific, Judeo-Christian-centric morality, but a general, “live and let live”, commonsense mentality.  We have become a society where it seems to be OK to do things that harm others, in whatever form that harm might take. Businesses are run unethically; people steal because they have an addiction that they cannot, or will not, face and work to overcome…

Its not too late for us to turn this “ship” around, but it will be hard, after decade upon decade of people actively promoting the behaviors and circumstances that we find now, as these icebergs we are fast approaching…

(Originally published Aug 21, 2012)

My America

When I arrived in the United States, back late 2000, I had no real plan to stay here. I flew in on a visitor’s visa wondering if the relationship that had started, and blossomed, online could stand the test of being brought into reality. From the first moment together in the concourse of the airport, we knew it would. Life then became a whirlwind of life events and immigration paperwork for us and, since those early days, it has been a tough road.

I found myself welcomed in this part of “flyover country”, not just by my wife’s family, but by everybody. Contrary to what seems to be the popular belief, my experiences have taught me that everyone loves an immigrant. They love to guess where I’m from; they often comment on how they love my accent; stories of “the old country” are always listened to intently. I think it’s an inherent part of being American, as the vast majority of people here are descendents of, if they aren’t themselves, recent immigrants.

Despite the portrayal of every bad incident or misspoken word being the result of some kind of brutish prejudice, I really think Americans are a beautiful people. I’ve not been outside of Ohio much, other than a few trips to Indiana and a couple down to Kentucky, so maybe there is a naivety in my viewpoint, but I stand by it.

Notwithstanding the events of 9/11, I was confused by just how easy those in Congress allowed the erosion of America’s principals through things like the PATRIOT Act and the TSA. Back then, I was even more green about the Constitution, liberty and freedom than I am now.

I didn’t escape here from Cuba, or flee from some genocidal African regime, or leave my oppressive Asian homeland, but I flew here, for love, from the United Kingdom, and I had in my head what “the land of the free” was. It was a country where everyone recited the Pledge of Allegiance every morning. It was a land where, with hard work, and maybe even an idea of your own, you could make something of yourself. People came here from all over the world, escaping from repressive regimes or voluntarily from other countries, because it was a beacon of freedom, tolerance and liberty.

Being in my early forties, I grew up during the Reagan Presidency and the Thatcher Prime Ministership and I remember hearing Pres. Reagan refer to America as the allegorical “shining city on the hill”. I remember that close, strong bond that my countries had and even in the green and pleasant land of my birth, the idea of America shone out.

Its become apparent to me that the 21st Century has seen the erosion of that idealistic image of America.

The problem seems to be that, for a long time now the ideas of freedom, liberty, self-reliance and personal responsibility have been slowly tarnished. The role of the family and the neighborhood community is being replaced by a reliance on government. The concept of America’s exceptionalism and the notion of pride in this country have been gradually made to be seen as uncouth and degrading ideas, through political correctness and cultural and moral shifts instigated and perpetuated by the more “progressive” elements of our society.

In fact, this degradation of what was the solid basis of American society for so long, saddens me.

The Constitution is more and more being seen as a rough guideline for how to “kind of” run America, rather than being acknowledged as the Law of the Land and the platform from which the United States’ ascension was launched. Most of this destruction appears to have come from “the left”, but “the right” can share in that blame, as pandering politicians come from both sides of the aisle.

Cradle to grave coddling and a need for the easy way has weakened this country, but Uncle Sam is not dead yet. He may be sick enough to be in a metaphoric hospital bed, but returning to those concepts I mentioned earlier, once so integral to the American Way, is the only medicine he needs. The road we’re on right now is “Easy Street”, paved with Cloward-Piven books and the pandering politicians are selling out the country just to make it even easier.

Yes, the ideas of freedom and liberty are hard to live by and we all want it easy, but we all need to “man up” and take responsibility for our lives, and I am definitely in that category.

Now… where do I start and who’s with me?

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