Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Societal Progress requires Gadflies

Societal Progress requires Gadflies

(The following is a paper written for my Philosophy Class. The class is specifically known as "Social and Political Philosophy". It outlines the requirements to create progress in Society.)

Visionaries are what we lack now entering the 21st century. Rather than people wanting to create a vision for the future and work towards shaping it, a new sort of rhetoric of compromise and moderation seems to have appeared. It seems now that the middle position between any two points, politically and socially, is deemed the one that's always correct. The other two positions are considered extreme and are demagogued as unrealistic or the work of idealists.

What has happened to our world where no one can see or even envision an America different than the circumstances around them? What seems to have happened is that we have lost all our gadflies. Socrates built the framework around an idea of a social catalyst whose very existence is to rile up and irritate the minds and emotions of people for social progress and social change.

Quoting him so he can speak for himself, Socrates explains the gadfly in Plato's Apology as such, "For if you kill me you will not easily find another like me, who, if I may use such a ludicrous figure of speech, am a sort of gadfly, given to the state by the God; and the state is like a great and noble steed who is tardy in his motions owing to his very size, and requires to be stirred into life. I am that gadfly which God has given the state and all day long and in all places am always fastening upon you, arousing and persuading and reproaching you. And as you will not easily find another like me, I would advise you to spare me. I dare say that you may feel irritated at being suddenly awakened when you are caught napping; and you may think that if you were to strike me dead, as Anytus advises, which you easily might, then you would sleep on for the remainder of your lives, unless God in his care of you gives you another gadfly." 1

Gadflies originally were the flies that flew around horses and irritated them for the majority of the day. This irritation is what Socrates seems to be channeling. To truly understand this irritation and how it works as a positive force, we can use the writings of Doctor Martin Luther King, as he eloquently explains the positive force that comes with this gadfly like effect in his letter from a Birmingham Jail: " You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches, and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent-resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and halftruths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood." 2

This philosophical argument all builds on two strongly held beliefs. Firstly is the premise that a random given society is rarely perfect and utopian in its morals or positions. It will inherently have evil customs, positions, or traditions that will need changing if the society is to progress forward and become more Just.

Secondly is the premise that the status quo has a characteristic of not wanting change or entropy and as a result requires a lot of energy before it gives way to new ideas or innovations. Just as it takes the most energy to get an object moving at the onset, a gadfly is needed to catalyze society into facing the injustices it has come to accept. That is the purpose of a gadfly and it's moral justification for creating tension given those two easily understandable premises. These gadflies I would label as visionaries.

Visionaries(Gadflies) don't see the world as it is but as it should or could be. They envision a better world and they seek to revolutionize the environment around them to help bring about that change and share their image of the future with the world. Economic visionaries like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs built products to bring into being this new world and had the forethought to know that we'd be using computers and Ipods before they even existed.

What about the anti-visionary? What of our current state of affairs? The anti-visionary brings about little to no progress living between tight and rigid views of where society is comfortable. If society has a social ill or problem of injustice in its midst, the anti-visionary will seek to solve it by bringing about as little change as possible and only what will be tolerated by the mass of people living in his society. There is no vision of the future and there is no radical changing of society for better or for worse. There is simply the status quo.

A number of issues today that we'd found outrageous were compromised upon decades ago by other non-visionaries; let their lives and choices be our guide and our historical lesson. People would argue for the abolition of slavery, for the right of women to vote, and for equal rights for all Americans during the Civil rights era. The anti-visionaries would be hesitant to accept these proposals and would instead ask for compromises to try to seem more rational and less "extreme" to the moral standards of their own society at that time.

But today the extreme position would be to deny women the right to vote, to deny all Americans equal rights, or to deny the emancipation of African Americans. EVEN a compromise would be seen as morally bankrupt and would shun anyone seeking to partially enslave African Americans, or partially limit women's right to vote, or partially deny equal civil liberties.

On a lot of positions the compromise or middle ground of an issue is morally unjust and unimaginable. Would people dare argue with the principle that we are never to kill innocent people? One day a non-visionary(non-gadfly) might well say there may be cases where such murder of innocent civilians is Just or moral. That is the problem with such people. Their longing to conform to their society's standards skew them from an understanding of the abstract values of good and evil, right and wrong, and justice/injustice.

If we want moral, social, or political progress in any country it will require gadflies. These visionaries will have a picture of a brighter future and will answer to philosophy's deeper abstract questions other people "sleeping" did not think to ask. They awaken us, shake us of the status quo, and in turn are rewarded by seeing their dreams become a reality.

That's what Dr. Martin Luther King was seeing when he wrote his famous "I have a Dream" speech. He was anticipating, envisioning, and creating a new world where Dr. Kings, "four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. " 3

Where our gadflies lay now is the question we must all ask ourselves. The loss of such great gifts of God in essence creates a stagnation of that society's progress. That in turn affects all corners of our lives.

To ask for the best in ourselves, our children, and our Society is to ask for God to send us Gadflies to awaken us when we have slept too long not pondering the deeper questions of our inner soul. There is a need to peer into the essence of our souls and question our deeply held assumptions. Gadflies help us to build a better world and establish a better life for us all. Societal progress hinges on such amazing divine blessings as them. Let us hope that one stirs us up soon and awakens us from a new approaching era of confusion, darkness, and doubt. It is all too clear that Obama in every way imaginable is no gadfly and we can expect no significant progression with him.

End Notes (Sources)

1. Platos Apology; Plato

2. Letter from a Birmingham Jail; Dr. King.

3. I have a Dream Speech; Dr. King.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Change in the Paradigm

Why Cities Grow, Corporations Die, and Life Gets Faster

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A good test for a Person's Character

Ask them:

1) Would you rather learn lessons by making mistakes and trial and error
2) Would you rather be prepared, asking those who came before you, to know what lies ahead?

If i get a chance I'll go in depth as to which is the right answer as I see it and why you should avoid the other. :)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Philosophy of the Christian Right / Republican Right

I believe the Christian right is a type of neo-Christianity, which has lost touch with the inner essence and message of Christianity.

Neo-Christianity leans more like neoconservatism, which promotes war.

Not all Christians fit this mold and a vast majority of them are fighting this movement. Catholics for instance seem to run contrary to this thinking, but Evangelicals seem to flock to it.

Some simple facts for people to study, to learn the truth about Christianity:


The Bible...

"If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded towards your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land" - Deuteronomy 15:7,11

"Jesus said to the man who invited him, "When you have a dinner or supper, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you will be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just" - Luke 14:12-14

"You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the Lord will be their savior" - Psalms 14:6

The Republicans...

"We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans (After Hurricane Katrina). We couldn't do it, but God did." - Former Rep. Richard Baker (R-LA)

"You know, we should not be giving cash to people (Unemployed Workers) who basically are just going to blow it on drugs and not take care of their own children" - Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)

"Poor people are, in fact, lazy - Glenn Beck

"You can't help those who simply will not be helped. One problem that we've had, even in the best of times, is people who are sleeping on the crates, the homeless who are homeless, you might say, by choice." - Ronald Reagan

"I don't understand how poor people think" - George W. Bush


The Bible...

"Then Jesus said unto him, "Put your sword back into it's place, for those who live by the sword, die by the sword" - Matt 26:52

"Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" - Matt 5:5-9

"But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good for those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same" - Luke 6:27-32

"Thou shalt not kill" - Exodus 20:1-13

The Republicans...

"I know people are saying we should have left things the way they were, but I changed after 9/11. I had to act. I don't care if I created more enemies. I had to act" - George W. Bush on Iraq War

"We must win in Iraq. If we withdraw, there will be chaos, there will be genocide, and they will follow us home" - Sen. John McCain

"We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and covert them to Christianity" - Ann Coulter

"This conflict can only end with their complete and utter destruction" - Dick Cheney

"Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" - Sen. John McCain

"The only way to reduce nuclear weapons is to use them" - Rush Limbaugh


The Bible...

"Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God" - Matthew 19:24

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money" - Matthew 6:24

"Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death" - Proverbs 11:4

"Then Jesus said to them, Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed. A man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions" - Luke 12:15

"When Jesus heard him, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven. Then come, follow me" - Luke 18:22

The Republicans...

"How about $5 million?" - John McCain, when asked at what point does one go from middle-class to rich.

"I don't sacrifice. Sorry, I don't participate in recessions. I am not going to sacrifice to make someone else feel good." - Rush Limbaugh

"We are struggling like everyone else" - Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT), Net worth upwards of $56 million.

"I'm also unemployed" - Mitt Romney to the unemployed. Mittens is worth $200 million.

"Part of the beauty of me is that I'm very rich" - Donald Trump on 2012 presidential run.

"I struggle to meet my bills right now" - Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI), annual salary of $174,000.


The Bible...

"Love thy neighbor as thyself" - Mark 12:31

"He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy" - Proverbs 14:21

"Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you." - Luke 6:26

"If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion, how can God's love be in that person?" - John 3:17

The Republicans...

"I tell people don't kill all the liberals. Leave enough so we can have two on every campus. Living fossils, so we never forget what these people stood for" - Rush Limbaugh

"My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go into the New York Times building" - Ann Coulter

"I didn't think I could hate victims faster than the 9/11 victims" - Glenn Beck

"I hate those gooks and I will always hate them" - Sen. John McCain

"He was a fucker. A big ass motherfucker" - Andrew Breitbart on Ted Kennedy hours after he passed away

"You attacked us!" - Allen West to a Muslim American Constituent

"The fact is while the overwhelming majority of Muslims are outstanding people, on the other hand 100% of the Islamic terrorists are Muslims, and that is our main enemy today" - Rep. Peter King

"I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I'm wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it... No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out." - Glenn Beck

"I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in congress and find out: Are the Pro-America or Anti-America?" - Michele Bachmann

"If you're oriented toward animals, bestiality, then, you know, that's not something that can be used, held against you or any bias be held against you for that. Which means you'd have to strike any laws against bestiality, if you're oriented toward corpses, toward children, you know, there are all kinds of perversions... pedophiles or necrophiliacs or what most would say is perverse sexual orientations." - Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX), in a floor speech on passing an anti-hate crimes bill.


Christianity at it's core is peaceful.

To all those in the Christian right, remember your calling: "Love Thine enemy" and "Thou shalt not kill".

Again a large majority of Christians have not joined this political movement for hatred.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The unending competition -- Love's great Defeat

I think the industrial revolution ticked in a mindset that has since been very hard to reverse.

Simply stated, it's the unending competition for:

1. Power
2. Fame
3. Wealth

Sacrificing the benefits of:

1. Family
2. Happiness
3. Good Health
4. Life

Do you see that last one? Truly, when was the last time life and just living it happily was objective 1?

Isn't that the 500th objective after a sub set of objectives, leaving life as the last one.

But since when was living life the last objective?


In Defense of Productivity

This doesn't mean we should cease being efficient or doing things that better ourselves and others. People may take this as the hippy mantra. But that is suicidal and leads to people abdicating their duties, and loosing sight of their responsibilities.

By living life, I simply mean dedicating time to enjoying it, after the time has been dedicated to work/education.

So often in the modern years people forget that we live in one of the greatest times in mankind's history. Our forefathers have struggled and sacrificed to get us to this point, and yet we have yet to appreciate the great sights around us. We don't appreciated the train systems built on the backs of thousands of laborers. Trains which help transport a myriad of items to our stores.

When is the time to enjoy that and whom do we enjoy it with?


Consequences of unending work and the lack of love

Happiness is a function of love and support. One can be sick and happy, handicapped and happy, and in pain while happy. (not extreme pain of course)

Why don't we ask ourselves where the source of this love is? What do we love that can love and support us back?

  • Our work, even if we do love it, doesn't provide much love back. Yet we invest so much time in seeking it out and focusing on it. As if money is the panacea of all our problems.
  • Family on the other hand can be a very supportive construct, yet do we spend nearly as much time investing our effort in it?
  • The benefits of spirituality and religion or good works in general are also well known and documented, and yet a lot of people are sacrificing this part of their lives as well. They seem to throw away their responsibilities to their fellow man.

The attitude has changed, from helping others as a form of helping ourselves, to now helping others as a waste of our own time.

Fewer and fewer of us are investing time in finding or maintaining a significant other and divorces have been climbing; let's hope they don't get exponentially greater. Why is this part of life being disregarded?


What's your Point?

Simply put, the point of this post is to ask where the love of the last 100 years has gone. Has it filled our wallets?

Where is our health and youth?

What have we done with all our support network?

Where is that village to raise that child?

Why do we fight for this unending competition of resources. We are finite beings and only require a finite amount of resources. Yet we struggle as if it's an unending infinite walk uphill. Finally at the top of the hill stands life.

Life stands in front of you now. Grasp it, find your support networks, get the love you truly deserve, invest time in the proper ways, and get only what you need of the shiny toys that are sold in stores. (If you need any ---- I'm looking at you ipad..... :D)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Guidance -- A midnights thoughts

How can the leaf sustain itself when everything else keeps it above the ground, flying in the air?

When the strong wind blows, whom can the leaf count on to hold firmly to the ground?

When the futures of uncertainty cloud the minds of the leaf, can it ever feel tranquility again?

When the magnanimous sun shines it's grace upon it, should the leaf despair in ever seeing it again?

When the majestic clouds form as shapes and towering figures and rain their sacks down to nourish the earth, should the leaf fear for life or look forward to a stronger future after the pouring struggles and strife?

When is the leaf independent of all around it?

How can the leaf thank it's branch for holding it firm, when the act of thanking leaves it in even more debt to it's sustainer?

From where can the leaf find the strength to help it's nourisher, when it's nourisher is self sufficient?

When the leaf is on it's knees, in tears from the generosity of it's masters and providers, how can it ever lift it's head after being given all these gifts?

When the struggles hit it, and nature itself seems poised to destroy it, after witnessing it's power, when does the leaf get the strength back to keep going and start fresh?

When the leaves around it pressure the first leaf to disregard it's mercies and gifts, through their own selfishness, pride, and ignorance, through what channel can the leaf complain and shine the truth?

O One who provides for us all, we hear you.

O unparalleled greatness that has no equal, heed this speck of a creation's words.

O grace of all that is good and that sheds it's light on all moments of sorrow and despair.

Heed this speck of a creations words.

Your ongoing mercy has flooded my heart with countless thoughts of the inequity I have treated you with.

Surely with each gift I turn more ungrateful and Surely with each hardship you show me ease.

With each patience of yours I grow more weary and impatient. With each magnanimous gesture of yours, I grow more severe and cold hearted.

As you hide my faults, I ignore your obvious gifts and take advantage of your limitless mercy.

Oh one deserving of all praise, forgive me of my lapses and transgressions.

From each moment I have forgotten you, you still turn towards me. With each breath I take, you sustain the life deep inside me.

When that life seems unbearable, you still bring about ease at the most miraculous of moments.

So oh Creator of all things, remember my words on the great day when all will be judged based on their deeds.

Oh sustainer, forgiver, nourisher, and Most Great, remember my words, even when I forget yours. Forgive my lapses, even when I deserve no such courtesy.

Spread good of me, even when I may be lazy in extending the same courtesy.

Oh Lord, cherisher, and most just.

Let me forgive others, as you constantly forgive me, so that one day, I may be worthy of your grace and praise.

Let me support others as you support me.

Let me not loose sight of my transient life.

Let me always remember you, from this day on, til when my lungs breathe their last breath.

Oh lord, If I should ever dare to think I am worthy or deserving of your countless blessings, then me I be awoken of my fantasy, face down, on the dirt, in complete submission to you.

Thank you, the countless thanks, that only pile up as I send them. For each thank you, oweing another, an overflowing debt that could never be dreamed to be payed back.

To the one that knows me best, takes care of me best, and treats me best. Thank you oh one worthy of all praise. Thank you Lord. Thank you oh sustainer and oh cherisher.

May my voice never stop praising you and your rightly guided leaders which you sent on earth to guide us aright.

I await the day of judgment; let me spend each day in praise and in constant forgiveness til then.

Oh one that never forgets and is still forgotten by the ungrateful.

Let me not be one of them and let me always follow the right path of your light and grace.

Oh one that inspires me, that is the true greatness which I claim to be, having stolen that right from the nourisher which is truly deserving of it.

Thank you and always keep me remembering your countless blessings.

Oh most Merciful and most worthy of Praise.

Forgive me and thank you. Should I be punished from now til the end of times, still you were not unjust with me for even a moment.

I deserve nothing and ask nothing, but simply that you accept my thanks and see me as your lowly servant, in constant need, and that you forgive me for my obvious weakness.

To the one that deserves all, may I one day deserve to call myself your true servant and true follower.

Oh Grace, oh Light, and Oh inspirer of all the hearts. Oh one filling our souls with blessings innumerable to count.

May my words never cease speaking of your greatness and obvious beauty. You are indeed worthy of all praise and all things you truly do control with a divine power.

My lord which has no equal, nothing brings you weariness, so please stay patient with me, of even that I am not worthy, yet you are infinitely able to give.

So give to me out of your infinite wealth, out of your mercy, magnanimity, and grace.

Thank you oh source of light, which guides all to the right path, regardless of how far we may have strayed.

Treat me with your Mercy oh greatness, for surely I would be most unfortunate to have to face your true Justice, of which no blessing of yours would I have ever been worthy of.

Keep me on your path, oh one true Lord, Creator, and God of all Things.

Friday, April 8, 2011

What makes a Writer

(When the quill becomes a door to a new world and inspiration starts streaming out of you; a writer you have become.)

At first people are hesitant to call themselves writers. After simply looking at the previous greats and standing in awe and wonder at their works, how can anyone dare call themselves a writer. The label and title seems a trophy unfit for most.

But when writing becomes pure joy, when it becomes a way to really express your inner self, and when you'd rather write than record yourself speaking, you know you've become a writer.

Just take a second to imagine that. Sitting and typing, or writing by hand, helps you to explain your true intentions, much more than just speaking them... How is that even possible?

It's why I'm writing this and it's why this isn't being recorded, even though doing so is immensely cheap and easy, and possibly quicker than writing this.



When you truly hold the pen steadily it rewards you in many ways. It's a gift from God, where you wield the power of creation, opening new worlds, exploring them, and finding new characters unimaginable in the real world.

Words that you can't say fly from deep inside you onto the paper. It's a one way highway, a strong connection between your soul and your writing. It's calming, wonderful, entertaining, and exciting.

It beckons to you, calling out to write more even when you least expect it.



To write for extended periods requires immense stamina and focus. You have to be true to your story. It can't just be the first thing you think of. Immediately after you think of something you ask yourself, "Is this true to the story, would this happen, could it happen"?

Fictional writing is very hard because it needs to stay in the realm of possibility, even in the most fantastic of worlds. It's why non fiction can sometimes be harder to believe than fiction; it can't be denied since it happened but it's unimaginable. That's just not always the case with Fiction, as you do have borders, and you don't want to take too far a leap of logic.

Also, some stories just need time to sit in your head for a while. Inspiration may wane, and forcing words to paper will only give you a lackluster result.



If anything it seems writing requires dedication. You have to remind yourself to re-tap your creative self, and try writing again after you've been away from it for a while.

This inability to delve back in, to lose your dedication, kills precious years off the writer. I'm very young and in my early 20's as I sit, but I feel I've lost many precious years simply not sitting down to write when I could have.

I'm thinking a schedule might remedy this. Force yourself to sit down for 30 minutes and let what happens, happen. If it doesn't work out, wait a week. If inspiration hits you, write; a no pressure dedication oriented schedule.


Final Thoughts

There is no perfect talent or perfect gift. With the good comes the bad, and even though writing can allow you to put light in the shadows of your deepest and most confusing thoughts, it also has it's own requirements and needs that need to be met.

The power of creation may rest in your hands but it's tip needs to stay sharpened. Eventually, even the lazy writers are called upon at odd hours of the night, simply to sit down and pour their deepest thoughts to the paper. (My particular case in writing this post)

It's never really the words, environment, or the characters that seem to make the story. It always seems to be the overarching vision, theme, and emotion that the story emits.

Even the oddest of characters become cherished friends when put in the right circumstances, with the right goals, and with the greatest adventures.

Write with me this night, and let our pens write themselves to their drying ends. Watch on as fluttering papers filled with words fly all around us, all small pieces of inspiration forcing their way out.

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