Rationalism and humanism are terrible. That is to say that they do inspire fear in the heart of a lazy man. (especially one like me).They are disciplines that require strength, patience, and courage.
If I were a religious man I would have some sort of spiritual nomnsense to fall back upon. But I'm not.
I've been reading about Thomas Paine, you see. He was a chap who did invoke his god in his writings, so I can't accuse him of being atheistic or agnostic. But he did call upon his fellow man to pull his finger out of the dyke, and to let the floodwaters of change sweep across a new land, to wash away the current ideologies, and to allow an Idea to take shape and form.
Paine wrote these words in the late 1700s: "These are times that try men's souls.The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country, but he that stands it NOW, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheaply, we esteem too lightly - 'Tis dearness only that gives everything its value."
He was, of course, writing to inspire the soldiers and militia of the Continental Army that was attempting (and succeeding) to toss out a tyrannical form of government and replace it with a representative form. This was stunning radicalism (and treason) at the time: and his words hold true today.
Replace the idea of despotic government in his statement with the idea that we are all held in thrall to international financing. Easy credit has been extended to all of us, so we can whimsically fill our homes with all manner of stuff. "What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly". Because electronic money has made purchasing stuff so easy, we seem to have lost all perspective about value.
We've sold our souls on the altar of easy credit. The commecials and advertisements bellow buy now, with 50 months free credit - just twenty short months after such irresponsible behaviour brought the world to its knees.
Our political and civic leaders have lost the courage of vision. The one person who has had the courage to ask his countrymen to make a sacrifice - Obama, at his inauguration - has been ignored and vilified by the political Right Wing for expecting others to share his vision of a rich future, in which each person cared for his neighbour.
I suggest we slow down, sniff the cowpats, plant a rose, and cut up our credit cards - no matter how "convenient" they make our lives. If we want something, make an individual sacrifice that will actually benefit the whole community: save for it. The banking system won't like you for it, of course, because they'll be paying you for the use of your money, instead of charging you at usurious rates for allowing you to use theirs.
Paine, Jefferson, Franklin, Lafayette, and latterly Obama have all called upon us to rebel against the greatest powers on earth: in the 18th century, the New Americans were rebelling against being ruled by a demented King who lived thousands of miles away on a rain-swept island. Obama has asked that we rebel against the modern financial sector: a much larger and more insidious hegemony, one that hides its power behind jingles and nifty slogans. The big banks submit to no border or government, and they rule with a cruel despotism that Machiavelli would have understood.
No bank has advertised itself as a savings organisation for many years. They've all become sources of easy credit instead. We have to ask ourselves why the banks no longer want us to save. the answer is easy: it doesn't suit the banks' purposes.
"Tyranny, like hell,is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder to conflict the more glorious the triumph." We have to stop doing what the banks want, and start doing what our fellow citizens need us to do: don't buy on credit. It'll end up costing you your soul. Save for what you want, get interest on your savings, then pay cash. The purchase will be all the sweeter for your patience and work.. and you won't be held in thrall to a power you didn't vote for.
Listening To: Leonard Cohen: "The Future". It seemed appropriate.
Reading: Um - Christopher Hitchens, "Thomas Paines' Rights of Man".
There is a stunned silence. The small Texan’s face pales as he staggers with the shock; the huge barbarian growls.
“I thought so. I rather fancy that someone’s got something in mind for us. Something we haven’t volunteered for.” Thomas Crayne’s voice sounds mild: he face is savage.
“Bravo, bravo, well done.” The voice buzzes from the door, which has re-opened. Charles stands there. “Now if you’d all kindly get clothed, maybe you’d be kind enough to accompany me? I have a briefing, and no mind to postpone it.” His halting speech patterns have gone, to be replaced by a haughty tone, one accustomed to obedience.
Minutes later, he leads them, these six baffled, dead men, these warriors and heroes, these pale and scarred people, into a wide corridor, and on to their fate: a fate they had already felt sealed.
3:00pm, Pacific Time, November 5th, 2386.
Blunt held his sword up, and ran his eye down the edge. Memories, emotions rubbed against one another, and he felt his anger growing. It was a plain sword, nothing fancy. It had saved his life on countless occasions, and he had used it to kill more often than he cared to remember.
He knew it looked right. He could see the nick that the huge French chasseur had put into it with his sabre, before Blunt had twisted his blade and buried its point the soldier’s belly. The grip was worn where it should be worn, polished shiny with sweat and fear.
But it wasn’t the same weapon that Sean Whistler had made for him out of two other blades, when Blunt had been recovering from a near-fatal gunshot wound. This sword was too light. It felt flimsy, as though there were no strength in it.
He slammed it into the scabbard at his side, picked up his bayonet, and sheathed that. His rifle was on the table, along with Whistler’s rifle and giant seven-barrelled siege gun, a weapon that could clear a room in a thunderclap of noise and lead. They let the firearms lie there.