Keep an open mind but don't close your EYES!
The world is awash in stupid ideas and gullible people. When one meets the other often very ugly things happen. Strong words? Perhaps, but remember this: There is no comet transport waiting and don't drink the Koolaid,
and you should also know: this guyis not God. Tell your friends.
There are people all over the world trying to steal from you on the internet, using greed as the lubricant. If you haven't been contacted yet, you will be one day, so don't be a candidate for the Nigerian loan scam. WARNING: NO ONE is trying to smuggle money out of Africa needing your help with a loan upfront to be paid back from the smuggled funds later. As soon as the pitch comes that you can keep all the "extra" money, try to remember, in your entire life, have you ever seen what "extra" money looks like? This scam is 40 years old. It still works because people KNOW they can count on your willingness to suspend disbelief in the face of overwhelming evidence that what is being offered is too good to be true. Read the warning signs. Don't be greedy or stupid. DON'T FALL FOR IT!
LEARN ABOUT PHISHING SCAMS. Educate yourself and your family, don't let your spouse or your parents fall victim to these fake messages meant to look like they are from a legitimate financial institution or merchant. Never fill out a form online from someone claiming they need your information to replace a corrupted database or to verify your supposedly compromised account. Filling out that form is the compromise. These people are snakes. Don't let anyone you care about be their victims.
An unencumbered truth to rant home. All opinions are not equal...
There is a lot to see in the world, and many different viewpoints; but we don't have an equal experience in life, and ability and interest were not distributed with a measured ladle.
People are born into different economic, political, social and physical realities. I assert these facts to say that, opinions are not to be universally accepted as having equal value in and of themselves. While everyone may have a right to their own opinion, it does not follow that their opinion has any worth beyond its expression. How do we then sort out those opinions that have weight and merit from those that are silly and even stupid? We engage in something many Americans have come to abhor.
(And we evaluate facts.)
Demagoguery is not arguing, and that unfortunately is what most people these days, think of as debating or argument. Dull thinking loudly displayed to sycophants doesn't advance our collective knowledge. On the other hand, it is a good thing when strong participants articulate their views skillfully, support them with facts, and present them in the marketplace of ideas. Different life experiences create our perception of reality, and hearing other points of view can raise the level of awareness to sharpen the mind.
Argument can be a tool which thoughtful people use to engage the minds of other thoughtful people. It can be, one way we learn. Too many people have never been exposed to the art of passionate debate coupled with a due diligence requirement to evaluate the facts. It is sometimes difficult, it can be uncomfortable and without regard for some rules it can lead to disrespect.
It can also change opinions.
INDIVIDUALISM AND FREEDOM
Despite Thomas Jefferson's declaration concerning self-evident truths, all men, are not created equal.
It is, perhaps, an admirable proposition held up in support of causes having to do with rights, but many who use this statement as a basis for their moral positions reject out of hand the supporting clause, "...that they are endowed by their Creator..." and never bring it up in the context of discussing personal responsibilities.
This assertion is so fundamental to many people's basic understanding of what is "true", that to even examine the point is heresy to some, but I think we should have more arguments over basic assumptions and generally accepted truths.
To return to the statement, as inspirational as the words may be, they are metaphorical; it is proposing an ideal not a fact; the sentence when taken literally has been used as an excuse for incredibly wasteful and foolish social experiments. Without thinking through the ramifications and nuances of such widely held assumptions, we will never be able to question or understand where they really lead us, or what rules society should deduce from them and hold up as our laws.
Why should we revisit such things? Because we need to think on our own in order to govern ourselves, and not abandon the task to others. Today there is a point of contention between those that value their tribal identities more than they value their individual freedom. What does that mean? It means when someone is promising a greater common good at the cost of your right to choose your own best path in life, the price is far too high. We have been conditioned to accept the former as a higher moral path, even when the facts show otherwise.
I have a reason why I think this is worth bringing up; I value freedom very much. I think free and independent people make better decisions than commitees or groups. I think as a people we are becoming complacent and accepting of the erosion of our individual liberties. I believe personal freedom is fleeting and difficult to hold onto in an organized society, where real dangers exist from abroad, and legitimate security measures are necessary. But, when the citizenry is docile and accepting of sweeping incursions into their personal freedoms, uneducated to the dangers of deffering personal responsibility to the group, there is a certain inevitabilty to what comes next. The nature of organized behavior demands compromise, pervasive organized behavior demands pervaise and unyielding compromise. East Germany's secret police force, the "Stasi" implemented the thinking of a society that avowed the greater good to the ultimate terror of its people for 50 years. People brought up with the idea that others are to care for them in return for loyalty are part of a dangerous brew. Today, Americans are more likely to respond to promises of safety and personal comfort than they are to calls for personal accountability, sacrifice or adventure in their life choices. Perhaps it is the same for most peoples, in most times but it wasn't always the only model for the American ethos. Because it wasn't, we were different as a people and a country. We celebrated individualism. We enjoyed unrivaled commercial success because individuals mattered and could make a difference in their own lives. America harnessed the energy of the self-interested, and their drive and ambition. As a consequence, we led the world transition from the age of the monarch and dictator who ruled based upon familial and tribal connections. Self government brought Americans to wealth, and unprecedented growth. But self-governance requires citizens to make hard choices concerning weighty matters each time they pledge their alligiance with their vote. For most people this is difficult. But it is vital and necessary for a free people to consider all sides of an argument and to make informed choices if we are to remain free. Further, we elect people to represent us, not to rule over us. There is a difference and most people know what it is, but it requires an ongoing and continued vigilence if that is to remain so.
Back to my point. All opinions are not equal. Arguing is a good thing. There are rules. Arguing is a method of learning, and without vigorous, questioning debate intellectual growth is stunted. Freedom is the most importance legacy we can ever offer our heirs.