Standing Army

From “We Who Dare to Say No to War”, William Jennings Bryan at the Democratic National Convention 1900.

“A large standing army is not only a pecuniary burden to the people and, if accompanied by compulsory service, a constant source of irritation but it is even a menace to a republican form of government. The army is the personification of force, and militarism will inevitably change the ideas of the people and turn the thoughts of our young men from the arts of peace to the science of war.”

“A small standing army and a well-equipped and well-disciplined state militia are sufficient at ordinary times, and in an emergency the nation should in the future as in the past place its dependence upon the volunteers who come from all occupations at their country’s call and return to productive labor when their services are no longer required – men who fight when the country needs fighters and and work when the country needs workers…”

Our nation should not be an empire but a “light on a hill” representing liberty and peace. All around me I see the “personification of force” every day. I’m oppressed by it and constantly reminded of the United States empire all over the world. I’m afraid we can only hold onto this empire for so long before we fall like Rome.

Epictetus

“When one took counsel of Epictetus, saying, “What I seek is this, how even though my brother be not reconciled to me, I may still remain as Nature would have me to be,” he replied: “All great things are slow of growth; nay, this is true even of a grape or of a fig. If then you say to me now, I desire a fig, I shall answer, It needs time: wait till it first flower, then cast its blossom, then ripen. Whereas then the fruit of the fig-tree reaches not maturity suddenly nor yet in a single hour, do you nevertheless desire so quickly and easily to reap the fruit of the mind of man? – Nay, expect it not, even though I bade you!”

I have a wish like this. I want someone to reconcile to me. It may take years and it may never happen. But I cannot make it happen. I can only wait. And if I move toward making it happen, I only slow the natural order of things. I must go about my life, satisfied with the relationships I do have. Which leads me to one more Epictetus quote.

“When we are invited to a banquet, we take what is set before us; and were one to call upon his host to set fish upon the table or sweet things, he would be deemed absurd. Yet in a word, we ask the Gods for what they do not give; and that, although they have given us so many things!”

Entertainment

Is today’s entertainment of worse quality than times gone by? I don’t think so. I think there have always been bad books, theater, music, movies, games, etc. It’s just that the only things that have lasted through time have been the pieces people love to see over and over again.

“Classics”, things people get something from every time they experience it, be it cars, movies, books, or games, are the things that get to us through the past and into the present time. We don’t hear about the book that someone wrote and no one liked, or the performance a group put on and no one ever went to see again.

What we see today is everything that anyone puts out. There is more of it due to technology. There are classics being made today, we just won’t know what they are until our grandchildren ask if we ever played Halo or went to a Britney Spears concert.

Does this sound familiar?

From “We Who Dare to Say No to War”. The following is an excerpt from William Graham Sumner’s Essay about the effects of the Spanish-American war. The whole thing is amazing and I could have quoted it all.

“The point is that each of them repudiates the standards of the others, and the outlying nations, which are to be civilized, hate all the standards of civilized men. We assume that what we like and practice, and what we think better, must come as a welcome blessing to Spanish-Americans and Filipinos. This is grossly and obviously untrue. They hate our ways. They are hostile to our ideas. Our religion, language, institutions, and manners offend them. They like their own ways, and if we appear amongst them as rulers, there will be social discord in all the great departments of social interest. The most important thing which we shall inherit from the Spaniards will be the task of suppressing rebellions.”

“Now, the great reason why all these enterprises which begin by saying to somebody else, We know what is good for you better than you know yourself and we are going to make you do it, are false and wrong is that they violate liberty; or, to turn the same statement into other words, the reason why liberty, of which we Americans talk so much, is a good thing is that it means leaving people to live out their own lives in their own way, while we do the same. If we believe in liberty, as an American principle, why do we not stand by it?”

Why don’t we stand by it? Why do we seem to need to be involved in everything around the world? Reading things like this does give me hope though. The battle has been going on for a long time. It’s not new to our era.

This idea of letting people alone to do what’s best for themselves where they are is not just for politics. People’s personal lives can be ruled by this idea as well. Why do we as a human race need rule over others? If more people took better care of their immediate surroundings instead of harassing others about what they do, we’d all be in a better state.

A Quote

I found this on Forbes.com this morning.

“Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.” – Auguste Rodin

I love it. It’s exactly what we’re talking about when unschoolers discuss our ideas about education. Everything you do (or not do) can be useful to your life and your goals. Even that teenaged kid who comes home from school and plays three hours of GTA is most likely using that experience wisely. He may need that time to decompress from the stress of the school environment. You may see wasted time and harass him, therefore defeating his purpose and making it harder for him to find a way to cope with life. He sees a block of time to “play” and relax. Time to let his mind wander and release tension that has built up over the day. He may not be able to express it but it’s still there.

Plato’s “Apology”

Socrates says, “For neither in war nor yet at law ought any man to use every way of escaping death.” and “The difficulty, my friends, is not in avoiding death, but in avoiding unrighteousness; for that runs faster than death.”

I only hope I can run faster than unrighteousness. I love Socrates! The end of Apology is just so perfect. He’s standing the before those who will kill him and he actually feels sorry for them. And he’s right about death. Complete non-existence after death? Like a perfect sleep, forever without worry from this world? Ok. Or an afterlife (as they believed) with those that have died before them? Chatting it up with the heros and philosophers of old? Even better! Why would he want to live among them anymore?