Friday, January 26, 2024

The History of the World (Condensed), Ch. 4

Image by JJ Jordan from Pixabay

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny  the Stickies — to advise 'em now, haunt them after I'm deleted.

Trigger Warning: This column is rated SSC-65: Sexy Seasoned Citizens   



Featuring {Dana}Persistent auditory hallucination and charming literary device 

"There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And it comes with the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." -P.J. O'Rourke 

Dear Stickies (and gentlereaders),  

Chapter two ended with "And then, in 1776, the planet Earth finally caught a break" but chapter three began with <INSERT THE SOUND OF SCREAMING TIRES IN A PANIC STOP HERE>. I clarified that the end of history hadn't been reached, heaven hadn't come to Earth, and  H. sapiens still had feet of clay. Decks cleared, I present chapter four. I'd refresh my coffee at this point if I were you. 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”


Self-evidently, although we’re all unique in how we look, how smart we are, and what innate talents we have, nobody is automatically born better than anyone else. 

We are entitled to live as long as biology and fate permit; we’re free to pursue our own path and discover what it is that will keep getting us out of bed in the morning until we won't (or can't) get out of bed in the morning.  

I maintain that this is obvious — self-evident — to any more or less well-adjusted kid on the playground. I maintain that this is obvious to any emotionally healthy, clear-thinking grup. 

I maintain that any well-meaning (or not so well-meaning) king, cleric, or politically correct or corrupt bully that maintains otherwise is delusional and needs to be dealt with appropriately.

{Obvious huh?}

Yeah, Dana, at least to those of us fortunate enough to have been born into circumstances that permit us to take the concept for granted — and even many of us who weren't. Unfortunately, a um... more traditional way, the way of the all-powerful alpha male, is still in vogue hither and yon.    

We have two choices. The traditional way, the way of the alpha male and/or the occasional alpha female, the way of the dicktater, king or queen, the way of the high priest(ess), and the like — or the way of the rational (well, more or less) individual.

Rational people employ reason.

Wikipedia: “Reason is the capacity for consciously making sense of things, applying logic, establishing and verifying facts, and changing or justifying practices, institutions, and beliefs based on new or existing information.”

AKA critical thinking, an enemy of Critical Theory

Rationality is a buggy, crash-prone app still in beta testing. But for the dead, mostly white dudes that invented the USA, fortunately for us, reason was a thing, a very big thing. We got lucky. 

Many of them were the "1%" of their day, but back in their particular day something called the Age of Enlightenment (or Reason) was rockin’ the world, and a new meme was going around.

Say you decided that the traditional way of doing things only worked well for a tiny group of people and you could rewrite the rules, using reason, to set up a new system that benefited everyone equally, at least theoretically, what would you do?

What they did, after much wailing and gnashing of teeth, was to set up the USA. The wailing and gnashing continues, as it should in a democratic republic. 

Fortunately, the new system includes built-in mechanisms to fix and/or change what the Citizens of the Republic decide needs to be fixed and/or changed. It ain’t easy to change, and it shouldn’t be, considering how thin the veneer of rationality is.            

Emotionally healthy, clear-thinking kids and grownups realize they’re not the only kid on the playground and that just enough rules are necessary (this is the rule of law, as opposed to rule by an arbitrary boss) to ensure everyone has fun, shares the equipment, and that bullies are not allowed. 

This is called government and it requires that a few conditions be met in order for the people to remain as free as realistically possible. 

First, we the governed, get to decide what the rules are. Second, the rules should be as few in number as possible so that individuals remain as free as possible. Third, great care must be taken to avoid the potential hooge, honking, downside of democracy: a tyranny of the majority.

If a majority of the kids on the playground get together to ban little Timmy from the premises just because of his unfortunate tendency to pick his nose even though he’s not breaking any rules, a grownup (the rule of law) must step in to protect little Timmy’s right to be there. 

This is the why and what of the U.S. Constitution. America's called the American experiment because no one else in history had managed to pull off anything like it and many thought we wouldn’t either. Some still don’t, and there’s no guarantee that it will ultimately end well.

Now, just because we’re lucky enough to have been born members of the species that sits at the top of the food chain in the most prosperous nation the world has seen (so far at least) we still live in a dangerous, hostile world that guarantees nothing but our eventual death. 

It’s up to us to come up with food, clothing, and shelter and defend ourselves from those who want to kill us for fun or profit.

And yes, a nation as well off as America is morally required to install a rationally designed safety net to catch everyone that fate shoves off the trampoline, but not necessarily for those who deliberately jumped off because they thought it would be fun. 

I once heard a nurse that was the head of some organization or other declaring with passion and conviction that, “Healthcare is a right!” in a radio interview.

No, it’s not.

Life, freedom, and the pursuit of whatever it is that keeps us getting out of bed are the fundamental rights everyone obviously should get. But even these natural, fundamental rights are a reality, not just a potential reality, only for those fortunate enough to be born in a country and a culture that acknowledges and defends them. 

You may have noticed some world-class thugs look at things a bit differently.

Everything else you’re entitled to depends on what you and your fellow citizens agree upon and are prepared to work your bums off to pay for. 

If you don’t believe this, try performing the following experiment.

Have yourself stranded on a desert island without a crew from a reality television show. Raise your fist to the sky and DEMAND! food, clothing, and shelter (and healthcare), then wait and see what happens. 

Oh, and make sure you don’t let your situational awareness chops get rusty while you’re waiting because Mother Nature is notoriously oblivious to our rights. Like any good mom, if she has a favorite, she keeps it to herself, and she doesn’t seem to lose any sleep when her kids eat each other to stay alive.

Also, please note that you don’t have to ask nicely for life (however temporary), liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Self-evidently, unless Gilligan and company show up and turn out to be evil, drug-addled crazies (which would explain a lot), you'd be about as free as you can be within the physical limitations of life on Earth.

{Phew... talk about dated cultural references!}

And unless Mr. Howell has brought along a trunk full of fentanyl, you could stay as free as possible (all things considered) if you and the "seven stranded castaways" simply agreed to respect each other's unalienable rights.

(To be continued...)

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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