October 15, 2004

A personal hero

from - Buck

mencken_cigar.gif
( you can find him here )

Before I disappear into my lair for a weekend of college football I did have a political and personal thought to share.

One of my favorite writers and thinkers is H.L. Mencken.

Now I realize that Mencken has been characterized as an anti-Semite and was hated by both sides of the political spectrum in his day. Maybe that is why I love him so much. He was an individualist and a true free thinker. He said what he thought and thought what he said and was as consistent as consistent can be. I never try to deify a man any more than I try to destroy one. I have never met a man that I did not agree with on some issues and disagree with on others but I have never respected any person that cannot take their position and be proud of the position they take. That brings me to a quote attributed to Mencken that popped into my head after reading Smijer’s post this morning:

“A professional politician is a professionally dishonorable man. In order to get anywhere near high office he has to make so many compromises and submit to so many humiliations that he becomes indistinguishable from a streetwalker.”

I thought of this while pondering the fact that the Cheney’s are willing to use their own daughter for political gain and then act shocked and angry when others do the same. There is no honor in these people. There is no honor in any of these people. It gets harder and harder to take seriously the charade at the top of the political dung heap while viewing it from the bottom but take it seriously we must because it is our lives and our money that they enjoy squandering for their own personal benefit.

Maybe a weekend of beautiful autumn weather and college football will help my mood. I hope to go see Team America: World Police. Laughing at disaster is sometimes the best medicine even though sometimes even laughter is depressing.

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Posted by Buck at October 15, 2004 11:57 AM
Comments

Isn't he the guy that said, "Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration-courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and, above all, love of truth."?

I don't guess he can be all bad, can he?

univar.jpg Posted by smijer on October 15, 2004 01:41 PM
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You are correct sir. I believe he is the guy who once said "Faith is the illogical belief in the occurance of the impossible"

Here is Mencken's creed

I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind - that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking.
I believe that no discovery of fact, however trivial, can be wholly useless to the race, and that no trumpeting of falsehood, however virtuous in intent, can be anything but vicious.
I believe that all government is evil, in that all government must necessarily make war upon liberty...
I believe that the evidence for immortality is no better than the evidence of witches, and deserves no more respect.
I believe in the complete freedom of thought and speech...
I believe in the capacity of man to conquer his world, and to find out what it is made of, and how it is run.
I believe in the reality of progress.
I - But the whole thing, after all, may be put very simply. I believe that it is better to tell the truth than to lie. I believe that it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe that it is better to know than be ignorant.

NOBODY is ALL bad!

Gotta go now. Halftime is almost over.

univar.jpg Posted by Buck on October 16, 2004 06:35 PM
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" - But the whole thing, after all, may be put very simply. I believe that it is better to tell the truth than to lie. I believe that it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe that it is better to know than be ignorant. "

How do you think mankind arrived at these lofty ideas? Where, or with whom, does compassion, honesty, kindness, self-sacrifice originate?

univar.jpg Posted by Lilspring on October 17, 2004 02:23 PM
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I think that questions like "where did it come from" are glorious and wonderful questions. I hope that people someday people are able to answer every one of them - not by guesswork aided by mythology, but with the same methods, and therefore the same confidence, that allows us to answer questions about where babies come from, where lightening comes from, and where pneumonia comes from.

But, I think that you would agree with me that the answer to the question about the origin of certain values that many of us share (and that Mencken expresses) remains for the present out of the reach of scientific knowledge.

I suppose you ask because you think the current lack of a scientific answer is a green light to fill in the blank with that all purpose word "God" (or, if we ask about the origin of lies, oppression, and ignorance, we are tempted to fill in the blank with the twin answer, "devils").

Unfortunately, this practice of blank-filling has been humanity's habit for a long time, whether the question was about lightning, pneumonia, or springtime. And, equally unfortunately, having a name to fill the blank with leads one to the mistaken impression that the answer is known. This, in turn makes it less likely that anyone will spend the energy and time to try to solve the puzzle. Who tries to solve puzzles they believe already solved?

With our values, whether they be inborn, or cultivated by human society and passed down through the instruments of culture, or whether they find their origin in some other system now too nebulous to fathom, the puzzle of their origin is exciting and fresh. But even while still puzzling over the answers to the riddle, because of the nature of values, we seek to see them fulfilled in our lives, we seek to see that they are consistent with one another, that they lead to a result that is most acceptable to us, and we try to instill them in our future generations. This is the real import of our value system, which exists even if we find the question of its origin impossible to answer with scientific certainty.

univar.jpg Posted by smijer on October 17, 2004 04:56 PM
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Sometimes the only way to tell the truth and keep from lying is to say

I DON'T KNOW!

I have never had any problem with that answer whether it is me giving it or whether someone else is giving it to me.

I believe in God Lilspring. I just do not believe that I have the power or authority to force that belief on anybody else and that it is counterproductive for me to treat an atheist any differently than I would treat a theist. And I would be lying if I denied that sometimes, late at night, I still wonder.

univar.jpg Posted by Buck on October 17, 2004 08:34 PM
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Buck,
There was a brief period in my life when I considered the possibility giving up my belief in God and living my life as if He does not exist. Do you know that I could NOT? I was not permitted to do this. When I considered living without God, He came to me and reminded me of all the times I have known that He was with me. I do not hear an audible voice when God speaks, yet I do 'hear" him. His voice is recognizable to me. His presence is felt. It is an awareness that He is with me and it is precious. I suppose this is the main reason that many Christians are evanglical.

univar.jpg Posted by Lilspring on October 19, 2004 08:27 PM
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