So many reasons to love Thomas Paine

Paine

Thomas Paine was, by some accounts, the most well-read Englishman ever to live. If you are reading this, regardless of who you are, or how many Nobel prizes you have won, you can rest assured that Paine’s education was more complete than your own. When you read his commentaries on money and the role of government, it is difficult to believe that Thomas Paine was one of the most influential members of the liberal movement. I have little doubt that, if Paine were to traverse time and visit America today, and observe the frail philosophy–if it can be called that–which now occupies the title of “liberalism,” he would promptly vomit all over Barack Obama’s shoes.

Here I present Thomas Paine’s wisdom, in so many of his truthful quotes, based on nature and reason. From the spirit of revolution he carried to the American people through Common Sense in 1776, to his unwavering faith in God as expressed in his 1794 work, The Age of Reason, Paine was an indomitable figure in political history, and he would have died for his beliefs (and in many ruling minds of the time should have–he was held or tried for treason in France and England, as well as demonized worldwide for sharing his honest opinions); but Providence, it seemed, would not allow it. He was instrumental in inciting the two greatest revolutions of the Enlightenment (French and American), and worked with all his creative genius to expose both the beauty of Creation and the absurdity of monarchy, hoping through Rights of Man (1791) to incite a third revolution in Great Britain. In his words, which are relative today, as they always will be:

“There are habits of thinking peculiar to different conditions, and to find them out is truly to study mankind.” – Case of the Officers of the Excise

“The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind.” – Common Sense

“Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamities is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.” – Common Sense

“Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed to the government are frequently the most ingorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions.” – Common Sense

“The reformation was preceded by the discovery of America, as if the Almighty graciously meant to open a sanctuary to the persecuted in future years, when home should afford neither friendship nor safety.” – Common Sense
“It is repugnant to reason, to the universal order of things, to all examples from the former ages, to suppose, that this continent can longer remain the subject to any external power.” – Common Sense

“It is not in numbers but in unity, that our great strength lies; yet our present numbers are sufficient to repel the force of all the world.” – Common Sense

“Can we but leave posterity with a settled form of government, and independent constitution of its own, the purchase at any price will be cheap.” – Common Sense

“Common sense will tell us, that the power which hath endeavored to subdue us, is of all others the most improper to defend us. Conquest may be effected under the pretence of friendship; and ourselves, after a long and brave resistance, be at last cheated into slavery.” – Common Sense

“The more men have to lose, the less willing are they to venture. The rich are in general slaves to fear, and submit to courtly power with the trembling duplicity of a spaniel.” – Common Sense

“As to religion, I hold it to be the indispensible duty of all government, to protect all conscientious professors thereof, and I know of no other business which government hath to do therewith.” – Common Sense

“Suspicion is the companion of mean souls, and the bane of all good society.” – Common Sense

“Immediate necessity makes many things convenient, which if continued would grow into oppressions. Expedience and right are different things.” – Common Sense

“When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.” – Common Sense

“Men read by way of revenge.” – Common Sense

“He who takes nature for his guide is not easily beaten out of his argument.” – Common Sense

“We have it in our power to begin the world over again.” – Common Sense

“Peace with trade is preferable to war without it.” – Common Sense

“Our plan is peace for ever.” – Common Sense

“Call not coldness of soul, religion; nor put the Bigot in the place of the Christian.” – Common Sense

“And here without anger or resentment I bid you farewell, sincerely wishing, that as men and Christians, ye may always fully and uninterruptedly enjoy every civil and religious right; and be, in your turn, the means of securing it to others; but that the example which ye have unwisely set, of mingling religion with politics, may be disavowed and reprobated by every individual inhabitant of America.” – Common Sense

“These are the times that try men’s souls.” – American Crisis

“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 cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.” – American Crisis

“Though the flame of liberty may sometimes cease to shine, the coal can never expire.” – American Crisis

“A right, to be truly so, must be right within itself: yet many things have obtained the name of rights, which are originally founded in wrong. Of this kind are all rights by mere conquest, power or violence.” – Public Good

“It seldom happens that the romantic schemes of extensive dominion are of any service to a government, and never to a people. They assuredly end at last in loss, trouble, division and disappointment.” – Public Good

“Where knowledge is a duty, ignorance is a crime.” – Public Good

“Other revolutions may have originated in caprice, or generated in ambition; but here, the most unoffending humility was tortured into rage, and the infancy of existence made to weep.” – Letter to the Abbe Raynal

“Were it possible we could have known the world when in a state of barbarism, we might have concluded that it never could be brought into the order we now see it.” – Letter to the Abbe Raynal

“The philosopher of one country sees not an enemy in the philosopher of another: he takes his seat in the temple of science, and asks not who sits beside him.” – Letter to the Abbe Raynal

“Our style and manner of thinking have undergone a revolution more extraordinary than the political revolution of our country. We see with other eyes; we hear with other ears; and think with other thoughts, than those we formerly used. We can look back on our own prejudices, as if they had been the prejudices of other people.” – Letter to the Abbe Raynal

“The mind once enlightened cannot again become dark.” – Letter to the Abbe Raynal

“Of more use was one philosopher, though a heathen, to the world, than all the heathen conquerers that ever existed.” – Letter to the Abbe Raynal

“Freedom is destroyed by dependence, and the safety of the state endangered thereby.” – Dissertations on Government, the Affairs of the Bank, and Paper Money

“To hold any part of the citizens of the state, as yearly pensioners on the favour of an assembly, is striking at the root of free elections.” – Dissertations on Government, the Affairs of the Bank, and Paper Money

“Gold and silver are the emissions of nature: paper is the emission of art. The value of gold and silver is ascertained by the quantity which nature has made in the earth. We cannot make that quantity more or less than it is, and therefore the value being dependent upon the quantity, depends not on man. Man has no share in making gold or silver; all that his labours and ingenuity can accomplish is, to collect it from the mine, refine it for use and give it an impression, or stamp it into coin.” – Dissertations on Government, the Affairs of the Bank, and Paper Money

“The only proper use for paper, in the room of money, is to write promissory notes and obligations of payment in specie upon.” – Dissertations on Government, the Affairs of the Bank, and Paper Money

“When an assembly undertake to issue paper as money, the whole system of safety and certainty is overturned, and property set afloat. Paper notes given and taken between individuals as a promise of payment is one thing, but paper issued by an assembly as money is another thing. It is like putting an apparition in the place of a man; it vanishes with looking at it, and nothing remains but the air.” – Dissertations on Government, the Affairs of the Bank, and Paper Money

“Money, when considered as the fruit of many years’ industry, as the reward for labour, sweat and toil, as the widow’s dowry and children’s portion, and as the means of procuring the necessaries and alleviating the afflictions of life, and making old age a scene of rest, has something in it sacred that is not to be sported with, or trusted to the airy bubble of paper currency.” – Dissertations on Government, the Affairs of the Bank, and Paper Money

“The evils of paper have no end. Its uncertain and fluctuating value is continually awakening or creating new schemes of deceit. Every principle of justice is put to the rack, and the bond of society dissolved: the suppression, therefore, of paper money might very properly have been put into the act for preventing vice and immorality.” – Dissertations on Government, the Affairs of the Bank, and Paper Money

“As to the assumed authority of any assembly in making paper money, or paper of any kind, a legal tender, or in other language, a compulsive payment, it is a most presumptuous attempt at arbitrary power. There can be no such power in a republican government: the people have no freedom, and property no security where this practice can be acted: and the committee who shall bring in a report for this purpose, or the member who moves for it, and he who seconds it merits impeachment, and sooner or later may expect it.” – Dissertations on Government, the Affairs of the Bank, and Paper Money

“Of all the various sorts of base coin, paper money is the basest. It has the least intrinsic value of anything that can be put in the place of gold and silver. A hobnail or a piece of wampum far exceeds it. And there would be more propriety in making those articles a legal tender than to make paper so.” – Dissertations on Government, the Affairs of the Bank, and Paper Money

“Nature has provided the proper materials for money, gold and silver, and any attempt of ours to rival her is ridiculous.” – Dissertations on Government, the Affairs of the Bank, and Paper Money

“A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody.” – Rights of Man

“A single expression, boldly conceived and uttered, will sometimes put a whole company into their proper feelings; and whole nations are acted upon in the same manner.” – Rights of Man

“All the great laws of society are laws of nature.” – Rights of Man

“All the great services that are done in the world are performed by volunteer characters, who accept nothing for them.” – Rights of Man

“Are not conquest and defeat each of the same price, and taxes the never-failing consequence?” – Rights of Man

“By the simple operation of constructing government on the principles of society and the rights of man, every difficulty retires, and all the parts are brought into cordial unison.” – Rights of Man

“Every religion is good that teaches man to be good; and I know of none that instructs him to be bad.” – Rights of Man

“For a nation to love liberty, it is sufficient that she knows it; and to be free, it is sufficient that she wills it.” – Rights of Man

“From a small spark, kindled in America, a flame has arisen, not to be extinguished.” – Rights of Man

“Government is a beast.” – Rights of Man

“Governments now act as if they were afraid to awaken a single reflection in man.” – Rights of Man

“I do not believe that any two men, on what are called doctrinal points, think alike who think at all. It is only those who have not thought that appear to agree.” – Rights of Man

“If the crimes of men were exhibited with their sufferings, stage effect would sometimes be lost, and the audience would be inclined to approve where it was intended they should commiserate.” – Rights of Man

“If the good to be obtained be worthy of a passive, rational, and costless revolution, it would be bad policy to prefer waiting for the calamity that should force a violent one.” – Rights of Man

“If we examine, with attention, into the composition and constitution of man, the diversity of his wants, and the diversity of talents in different men for reciprocally accommodating the wants of each other, his propensity to society, and consequently to preserve the advantages resulting from it, we shall easily discover, that a great part of what is called government is mere imposition.” – Rights of Man

“In the representative system, the reason for everything must publicly appear. Every man is a proprietor in government, because it affects his property. He examines the cost, and compares it with the advantages; and above all, he does not adopt the slavish custom of following what in other governments are called LEADERS.” – Rights of Man

“Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.” – Rights of Man

“Instead of seeking to reform the individual, the wisdom of a Nation should apply itself to reform the system.” – Rights of Man

“Invention is continually exercised, to furnish new pretences for revenue and taxation. It watches prosperity as its prey, and permits none to escape without a tribute.” – Rights of Man

“It can only be by blinding the understanding of man, and making him believe that government is some wonderful mysterious thing, that excessive revenues are obtained.” – Rights of Man

“It is a general idea, that when taxes are once laid on, they are never taken off.” – Rights of Man

“It is time that nations should be rational, and not be governed like animals, for the pleasure of their riders.” – Rights of Man

“Laws difficult to be executed cannot generally be good.” – Rights of Man

“Lay then the axe to the root, and teach governments humanity. It is their sanguinary punishments which corrupt mankind.” – Rights of Man

“Man has no property in man; neither has any generation a property in the generations which are to follow.” – Rights of Man

“Man is not the enemy of man, but through the medium of a false system of government.” – Rights of Man

“Man will not be brought up with the savage idea of considering his species as his enemy, because the accident of birth gave the individuals existence in countries distinguished by different names.” – Rights of Man

“Man, were he not corrupted by governments, is naturally the friend of man, and human nature is not of itself vicious.” – Rights of Man

“Nations can have no secrets; and the secrets of courts, like those of individuals, are always their defects.” – Rights of Man

“Nations, like individuals, who have long been enemies, without knowing each other, or knowing why, become the better friends when they discover the errors and impositions under which they had acted.” – Rights of Man

“Nothing is to be looked for but what has already happened; and as to reformation, whenever it come, it must be from the nation, and not from government.” – Rights of Man

“Only partial advantages can flow from partial reforms.” – Rights of Man

“Principles must stand on their own merits, and if they are good they certainly will.” – Rights of Man

“Public money ought to be touched with the most scupulous consciousness of honor. It is not the produce of riches only, but of the hard earnings of labor and poverty.” – Rights of Man

“Reason and discussion will soon bring things right, however wrong they may begin.” – Rights of Man

“Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.” – Rights of Man

“Taxes were not raised to carry on wars, but wars were raised to carry on taxes.” – Rights of Man

“That there are men in all nations who get their living by war, and by keeping up the quarrels of nations, is as shocking as it is true; but when those who are concerned in the government of a country, make it their study to sow discord, and cultivate prejudices between nations, it becomes the more unpardonable.” – Rights of Man

“The American constitutions were to liberty, what a grammar is to language: they define its parts of speech, and practically construct them into syntax.” – Rights of Man

“The greatest of all ridiculous things are acted in governments.” – Rights of Man

” Commerce needs no other protection than the reciprocal interest which every nation feels in supporting it.” – Rights of Man

“The instant formal government is abolished, society begins to act. A general association takes place, and common interest produces common security.” – Rights of Man

“The most unprofitable of all commerce is that connected with foreign dominion. To a few individuals it may be beneficial, merely because it is commerce; but to the nation it is a loss. The expense of maintaining dominion more than absorbs the profits of any trade.” – Rights of Man

“The name of the Creator ought not to be introduced to witness the degradation of his creation.” – Rights of Man

“The probability is always greater against a thing beginning, than of proceeding after it has begun.” – Rights of Man

“The right of war and peace is in the nation. Where else should it reside, but in those who are to pay the expense?” – Rights of Man

“There is existing in man, a mass sense lying in a dormant state, and which, unless something excites it to action, will descend with him, in that condition, to the grave.” – Rights of Man

“What at first was plunder, assumed the foster name of revenue.” – Rights of Man

“What inducement has the farmer, while following the plough, to lay aside his peaceful pursuit, and go to war with the farmer of another country?” – Rights of Man

“Whatever is my right as a man, is also the right of another; and it becomes my duty to guarantee, as well as possess.” – Rights of Man

“When governments are at war, the attack is made on the common stock of commerce, and the consequence is the same as if each had attacked his own.” – Rights of Man

“Why do men continue to practice themselves the absurdities they see in others?” – Rights of Man

“Wisdom degenerates in governments as governments increase in age.” – Rights of Man

“It is a dangerous attempt in any government to say to a nation, “thou shalt not read.” – Letter Addressed to the Addressers of the Late Proclamation

“The principles of and conduct of any government must be bad, when that government dreads and startles at discussion, and seeks security by a prevention of knowledge.” – Letter Addressed to the Addressers of the Late Proclamation

“It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.” – Letter Addressed to the Addressers of the Late Proclamation

“Principles have no connection with time, nor characters with names.” – Letter Addressed to the Addressers of the Late Proclamation

“It is only in governments founded on assumption and false principles, that reasoning upon, and investigating systems and principles of government, and showing their several excellencies and defects, are termed libellous and seditious. These terms were made part of the charge brought against Locke, Hampden, and Sydney, and will continue to be brought against all good men, so long as bad governments shall continue.” – Letter Addressed to the Addressers of the Late Proclamation

“If, to expose the fraud and imposition of monarchy, and every species of hereditary government–to lessen the oppression of taxes–to propose plans for the education of helpless infancy, and the comfortable support of the aged and distressed–to endeavour to conciliate nations to each other–to extirpate the horrid practice of war–to promote universal peace, civilization, and commerce–and to break the chains of political superstition, and raise degraded man to his proper rank; –if these things be libellous, let me live the life of a libeller, and let the name LIBELLER be engraved on my tomb.” – Letter Addressed to the Addressers of the Late Proclamation

“I have written a book; and if it cannot be refuted, it cannot be condemned. But I do not consider the prosecution as particularly levelled against me, but against the general right, or the right of every man, of investigating systems and principles of government, and showing their several excellencies or defects.” – Letter Addressed to the Addressers of the Late Proclamation

“Whatever the rights of people are, they have a right to them, and none have a right either to withhold them, or to grant them.” – Letter Addressed to the Addressers of the Late Proclamation

“A thing, moderately good, is not so good as it ought to be. Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is a species of vice.” – Letter Addressed to the Addressers of the Late Proclamation

“If you now enjoy freedom and happiness, you should be conscious of the reasons for your contentment.” – An Essay for the Use of New Republicans in Their Opposition to Monarchy

“A person educated in the belief that he has a right to command others is inevitably bound by his surroundings to lose all sense of reason and justice.” – An Essay for the Use of New Republicans in Their Opposition to Monarcy

“Why assume an evil solely for the purposes of providing a remedy?” – An Essay for the Use of New Republicans in Their Opposition to Monarchy

“It is our duty as legislators not to spill a drop of blood when our purpose may be effectually accomplished without it.” – Reasons for Preserving the Life of Louis Capet

“I have always strenuously supported the right of every man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.” – Age of Reason

“All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.” – Age of Reason

“It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe.” – Age of Reason

“The commandments carry no internal evidence of divinity with them; they contain some good moral precepts, such as any man qualified to be a lawgiver, or a legislator, could produce himself, without having recourse to supernatural intervention.” – Age of Reason

“That many good men have believed this strange fable, and lived very good lives under that belief (for credulity is not a crime), is what I have no doubt of. In the first place, they were educated to believe it, and they would have believed anything else in the same manner.” – Age of Reason

“Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon than the Word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my part, I sincerely detest it as I detest everything that is cruel.” – Age of Reason

“There is not, throughout the whole book called the Bible, any word that describes to us what we call a poet, nor any word which describes what we call poetry. The case is that the word prophet, to which latter times have affixed a new idea, was the Bible word for poet, and the word prophesying meant the art of making poetry. It also meant the art of playing poetry to a tune upon any instrument of music.” – Age of Reason

“Had it been the object of Jesus Christ to establish a new religion, he would undoubtedly have written the system himself, or procured it to be written in his life-time. But there is no publication extant authenticated with his name. All the books called the New Testament were written after his death. He was a Jew by birth and by profession; and he was the Son of God in like manner that every other person is–for the Creator is the Father of All.” – Age of Reason

“Do we want to know that God is? Search not the book called the Scripture, which any human hand might make, but the Scripture called the creation.” – Age of Reason

“As to the Christian system of faith, it appears to me a species of Atheism–a sort of religious denial of God. It professes to believe in a man rather than in God.” – Age of Reason

“Wealth is no proof of moral character; nor poverty of the want of it.” – Dissertation on First Principles of Government

“When all other rights are taken away the right of rebellion is made perfect.” – Dissertation on First Principles of Government

“The moral principle of revolutions is to instruct, not to destroy.” – Dissertation on First Principles of Government

“There are cases in which silence is a loud language.” – Letter to George Washington

Thank you for displaying true liberalism, Tom–not whatever the modern “liberal” wackos espouse today.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. was real; Obama is a fraud

civil disobedience

“Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators.” But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were “a colony of heaven,” called to obey God rather than man.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Forty-five years ago, a humble servant of God sat in a detainment facility in Birmingham, Alabama, and wrote a letter to his fellow clergymen, whom he felt had left him too desirous of support in his fight for freedom. In his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, King displayed wisdom that extends far beyond the reaches of the media’s anointed black leaders of America today. King’s words make Barack Obama sound as thoughtful as George Wallace.

Barack Obama is the self-proclaimed historical apex of liberty and justice in America. In addition to being incorrect, this assertion reveals his own narrow mind and prejudiced heart. Obama is currently the most prominent member of a group of elite blacks who have climbed atop the shoulders of a once-pure movement for liberty and justice, tracking mud and flinging dung along their path, and corrupting the exterior of the civil rights movement, whose core struggle for individual freedom under God will always remain pure. Dishonest, selfish opportunists, like the Obamas, the Clintons, the Sharptons, and the Jacksons, have given a bad name to a great cause.

King was, like myself, a faithful individualist. He believed in the sciences, natural rights, natural law, and the rule of God. This philosophy is what gave him the wisdom, compassion and courage to follow an unpopular and dangerous path. Obama is almost exactly the opposite of King. Like so many politicians before him, Obama believes he is a better ruler than God. He idolizes himself, and nearly all of his followers join in his regrettable rejection of truth. He follows a path beaten to a point of no adversity, and lined with easy cash for liars, sycophants and opportunists.

I could easily attack John McCain on the same charge, because he too would rather rule than lead, but McCain has not so boldly demanded comparison of himself to anyone I particularly admire. He has shown great honesty in allowing himself to be compared to the current President of the United States. There is sadly little difference between the two selfish front-runners for the presidency. When Barack Obama, however, allows himself to be cast in the same light as Martin Luther King, Jr., he commits an awful error that cannot be ignored. King himself, if he were to know Barack Obama, would liken the Senator more to Pilate than to the Messiah, as some in the media have called him.

King believed in God, and the rights of the individual. Obama believes in democracy, and the conscience of a mob, which bears similarity to one that would have lynched King, given the opportunity.

King believed in challenging people. Obama believes in bending to challenges.

King saw one race. Obama sees many.

King wanted Americans to rule themselves. Obama wants to rule Americans.

King’s color was, to himself, merely the external shell of his human being. Obama believes his color is his being. Given their environments, it seems these attitudes would be reversed, but principle is not determined by time or place, and everywhere that King was overflowing with it, Obama will lack it unconscionably.

King saw things as they were. Obama sees things in whatever light he wishes to view them.

King believed in God. Obama believes he is God.

King fought the chains of government. Obama tightens and secures them.

King was a prophet. Obama is a profiteer.

King was suspicious of men who sought power. Obama seeks power.

In short, King was a truly principled man, and Obama is a disingenuous fraud.

Going hiking (05.16.08)

Yesterday we went to Zevat, a beautiful old city with a history of violence.  I bought a photograph (artistic double exposure) of a man praying at the Western Wall.  The drive north to Zevat was highlighted by the border fence between Jewish Israel and the Palestinian Authority.  There is a quiet but undeniable animosity between the Israeli Jews and the Palestinians, that seems certainly unnatural–if not an abomination–and allows for an easy segue into the most interesting event of the day, the Kabbalah lecture in the gallery of David Friedland.

David talked about Kabbalistic mantras of non-dualism and universality.  Many members of our group were unmoved by David’s words, but I found myself in profound agreement with him.  Are we really so incompatible–the Palestinians and Jews?  Both religions value the same characteristics–the oneness of God, humility, respect, love–but still manage to fall victim to the soul-corrupting forces around them.

What reason has the peaceful farmer of one country to put down his plow, and lift up sword against the peaceful farmer of another, but through the means of a false authority?  This is a useful question that, I believe, is at the heart of what David Friedland was trying to convey.

To talk of the “peaceful farmer” of one nation with any true authority, one must first know that man exists, and I do.  One of the soldiers in our group, Tzahi, led us to his family’s farm, just three kilometers from the Lebanese border.  Here was a small farm not unlike the one my grandmother grew up on, decades ago in rural Tennessee.  The family was a peaceful and welcoming bunch.  They allowed us to ride their horses, eat fruit from their trees, and collect eggs from their hen house.  I would be willing to bet there are peaceful farms like this one, on the other side of the border, with peaceful, welcoming families, who are also mournfully propagandized by a false authority that pits humankind against itself in war.  It seems to me that this cannot be the will of God, but a result of the human ignorance thereof, or a human arrogance that would assume rule over God’s domain.

Last night we stayed in cabins, and the common area had a basketball court and picnic tables.  We played basketball and guitar, and sang–“Freebird” and “The Most Beautiful Girl in the Room” were my humble contributions.  Today we hike and swim.

Shabbat at the spring/pool (05.17.08)

Yesterday we drove to the Golan heights.  We hiked (seriously) to a pool at the foot of a waterfall, where most of us swam.  At the end of the trail, a refreshing reminder of the advantages of capitalism greeted us in the form of a well-placed ice cream truck.  Then we rode to Mount Bental, a hill that overlooks the Syrian border.

The contention for this land has shaped Israeli politics since he late 1960s.  It is a beautiful area, and a strategic high ground for Israeli forces.

Shabbat in Israel is much like Sunday in the United States.  Some people take the religious aspects of the weekend more seriously than others.  We prayed, and I was surprised to learn that the services in Israel are much shorter and much more relaxed than in the U.S.  The prayers have three main themes under God: peace, gratitude, and freedom.  I say “under God” because of the assumption true faith requires–that anything humankind can possibly contrive will always be inferior to the natural state of creation.  To allow any delegation of humans, regardless of their supposed benevolence and intellect, to alter the inalienable natural rights of humankind in God’s image, is to practice idolatry, giving to a committee the responsibilities and respects that should only be contracted between an individual and his/her own given nature.

This assumption of faith leads naturally to the religious rejection of coercive government, and faith in freedom and power higher than any person or group of people.  This faith is the philosophy through which all religions originate, and all religions, at their roots, are undeniably anarchistic.  Yet this, the holyland, is undeniably over-governed, and–forgive the following generalization–the people here credit all of their blessings to their own religion, and all of their problems to a different religion, never realizing their religions are rightfully united, and their opinions by ruling idols divided. 

The heart of what is called the holyland is chilled to the core by an ever-multiplying prejudice among its residents–both Jewish and Muslim.  A human is a human is a human, and each of us is equal before God, without regard to race, religion, location, creed, status, or chance–everyone who doesn’t realize this as fact, should humiliate their own thoughts, before nature and time do the deed for them.

Judaism Discussion and events (05.17.08-05.18.08)

Is Judaism a religion or a nationality?  This is a controversial question in this controversial nation. 

For me, it is only a religion.  The establishment of any “religious state” contradicts principles necessary to a free society, yet claims of freedom abound in this country, as if the word’s meaning has been altered entirely.  The claim that people may have different definitions of freedom is as absurd as the arbitrary proposal that some people should be more free than others.

It is unpardonable that we, as Jews and humans, should practice the faults of government that we recognize as deplorable in others; the hypocrisy is too obvious not to be seen, and–were it not a serious matter–the absurdity would be too great not to be laughed at.  It is an idiotic and blasphemous rejection of God’s gift of reason to take the proponents of any religious state seriously.

We were asked about a decision of the Israeli supreme court that involved citizenship for a man whose Judaism was in question.  The attempts at answering this question with pure moral conviction were amusing if not frustrating.  My answer, of course, was that the law itself was a bad one.  First, laws difficult to be executed generally cannot be good, and second, it is unnatural that a pure stream should flow from a foul spring.

We were also given a list of activities that Jews consider important, and asked to list them in order of importance for our group.  This set the stage for an argument between myself and Joe Gatorade.  For me, the most important given activity of being Jewish was reading books about Judaism.  Joe believed it was to call oneself Jewish, and iterated that there was little importance in reading about Judaism.  Taken to its logical end–ambitiously assuming it has a beginning–his argument is that it is most important to identify with a word that one cannot even define.

Leaving politics and religious doctrine to the criminals and feeble minds they attract, I will turn to the events of reality.  We went to a pool next to the hostel yesterday.  Then we discussed Judaism.  Then we travelled to Afula for dinner (shwarma, falafel, or pizza).  Today we leave the hostel and travel to Jerusalem.

Dead Sea and Masada (05.20.08)

Today we went to Masada and the Dead Sea–both were beautiful and unique.

Masada’s history, which glorifies religious terrorism, is more than a little ironic.  Historically, we regard Jewish terrorists with reverence, but presently, Islamic terrorists are considered lower than the salt floors of the Dead Sea.

Standing atop Masada, one can look down on creation, and almost see the word of God.  It is the closest view of revelation I have ever experienced.  What so-called religious scholars have defined as revelation, or the literal word of God, is nothing more than hearsay.  Revelation is by definition direct, from creator (or creation) to individual, and cannot be designed in human language.  Therefore the only experience one can rightly call revelation is a direct individual experience that requires neither language nor interpreter.  Creation and creator speak for themselves, and are best understood through the studies of science and philosophy, as well as rational individual existence.

A Nation of Fences (05.23.08)

I have heard several Israeli residents complain of the unwanted attention their nation receives from the U.S. media.  The most hated countries in the world, they realize, are the ones to which America pays the most attention: Iran and their own.  They want sovereignty and independence–they want to be left alone–but they seem fairly disinterested in learning the means toward that end. 

They are more than willing to accept U.S. aid.  It is unreasonable to accept the aid without expecting the attention.  With regard to Israel, the U.S. acts as a parent holding a child’s allowance.  Certainly the parent chooses its expenditures on a whim, but when it betroths a portion of its revenues to its begotten, the parent becomes overly concerned with how the child appropriates those funds, and the child reacts as children do, ill-tempered and irrational, and unable to realize its own potential to raise revenues.

Economic independence and national sovereignty are inseparable–one follows the other as obediently as night follows day–and until Israel votes for the former, it should expect the latter will never exist.  Both, moreover, are essential for any country that wishes to be free, which appears may not be one of Israel’s goals.  Based upon every conversation of policy I have had in this country, I can only conclude at this time that the collective political tide of Israel disdains true freedom, and seeks only to be Jewish and secure–two words with varying definitions from Israeli to Israeli.  In simpler terms, the nation of Israel can say not what it hopes to be, or for which principles it stands; everything is correct as long as it exists.

There is nothing free about a fence.  I have said before (and will probably say again) that a nation of five million free souls is far preferable to one of ten million living in servitude to an authority created by humans.

Our leader Yossi says, “All Israelis would like to see a time when the fences could be taken down, but for security, we need them now.  We pray for peace.” 

Peace, however, is less dependent on prayer than it is on tolerance and principle.  To the argument for “temporary” security measures, I refer to the philosophy of Ben Franklin, who wrote, “Those that would sacrifice essential liberty for a little temporary security, will have neither liberty nor security.”  Additionally, it is folly to believe that a free nation requires such an extensive military operation.  In its true form, freedom secures itself, because a constitutional republic that limits itself to the protection of rights, will find its enemies disappearing with remarkable rapidity.  Israel has no such government, and it appears to me an affront to the natural gifts God gave humankind.

I cannot believe that God simply despises certain humans, and wishes to see them suffer where others relax.  My heart and mind tell me that most of the misfortune in this country occurs on the other sides of these fences, and as it is the nature of compassion to associate with misfortune, I feel a Jewish association with the Palestinians.

But it would be unpardonably short-sighted for my compassion to expose only one side of the fence.  The only authorities more absurd than those of the Israelis are those of the surrounding Arab lands.  It would be wise for Muslims to reject their own various despotisms and learn the freedom intended clearly within the patchwork of our one human creator.

The struggles for power over other individuals by the fanatics on both sides of these fences, must inevitably end in a true revolution for liberty, and it must be done in partnership by people of all types, against the faulty powers that be–both Israeli and Arab.