Thursday, March 6, 2014

IN MEMORY OF A MAN I KNEW

He was a son of the South, a gentleman, a husband, a father, a naval officer and a pilot. He lived his life and embraced eternity doing what came as natural to him as breathing. He was a writer without peer, a compassionate honest man and lived more in any day than any other man lived in a week.  

He wrote down his philosophy and since I share it, I saved it. Here it is.

Beliefs
By lex, on October 22nd, 2003
As opposed to certainties…

    My son (17) is out tonight with his girlfriend and her mom. Wonderful people, liberal as they come. I’ve talked a couple of times with the GF, who has expressed to me a concern that she might offend me if she shared her political views with me. She deems me perhaps a right-wing knuckle-dragger, much given to the taking of umbrage. I am in the military after all – what else might one expect?
     I don’t know that I really am all that conservative – I like to think of myself as being more of a libertarian, with a slight conservative bent, but unchained by the orthodoxies of either political camp. I took one of those on line tests a few months back that basically confirmed that, on a four axis chart.
     So anyway, my mind wandered on the ride home this afternoon on what format a political discussion with the GF and her mom might take. The great fear of course, is that we’ll get to talking in general terms and pretty quickly it will degenerate into a name calling session. There seems to be so little give and take these days, all of the barricades are manned and the fields in the middle are mined.
     Unlike the USENET, where calling someone a Nazi theoretically wins the argument for the other side , it’s somewhat more difficult when face to face to let something like that slide, especially with domestic tranquility at risk. So anyway, I started to mentally categorize my beliefs, for posterity :
I believe that human life is sacred.
I believe that democracy is the worst possible form of government, except for all the others.
I believe that liberals are builders, and conservatives are defenders. I believe that both are important.
I believe that government’s primary functions should be to defend the borders and deliver the mail in a timely fashion. 
Everything else is pretty much discretionary, open to debate and subject to revision. People don’t really want to be governed, but they need to be. Still, I believe that government is best which governs least.
I believe freedom is more important than equality. If the only way to make things more equal is to reduce freedom, I’m not interested. Human nature being what it is, equality will have to be enforced, while freedom will have to be defended. 
I’d rather be a defender than an enforcer.
I believe that taxes are a necessary evil. The fact that they are necessary should not obscure the fact that they are evil. You work to provide for your family, and the government asks a share of the bread wrung from the sweat of your brow. Societies have responsibilities, but only because they collectively choose to. There is a social contract in effect: We do owe our less advantaged brothers and sisters the chance to pull themselves up out of the mire. But they owe it to us to take that chance.
I believe that the taxation system is fundamentally coercive: It may be your money, you may have earned it through your labor, but if you don’t pay, eventually a man with a gun will show up at your doorstep and take you away.
I believe in privacy.
I believe in charity.
I believe in virtue.
I believe that charity is a private virtue.
I believe in personal responsibility.
I believe that choices are actions, and that actions have consequences. If you didn’t pick up on this growing up, you weren’t paying attention.
I believe that a market economy offers the best opportunity to live a good life to the most number of people. If you believe differently, I’d like to see your analysis.
I believe that if I choose to work hard in high school to get to a good college, work hard at my career in pursuit of a better life for my family, and save money for my retirement, that shouldn’t make me a piggy bank to plunder for those who didn’t make those choices. If you choose to teach or “help people,” because that’s important to you, you shouldn’t be surprised if the market disfavors those choices in favor of those who actually make tangible things for other folks to buy. That’s what markets do, and ours is a market economy. You should be content instead with the non-remunerative rewards of your chosen field.
I believe that if everyone took responsibility for those people and those things that they can directly impact (family comes to mind, friends and neighbors come next), that the world would be a far better place. Think globally, act family.
I believe it’s time for another beer.
I believe in sin.
I believe that envy is a sin.
I believe some people should be ashamed.
I believe that abortion is a sin. I am not sure it should be a crime, because I know that my beliefs are based on a religious philosophy, and not everyone shares that philosophy. My philosophy does not require them to.
I believe that legislatures should legislate, executives should execute, and judiciaries should interpret.
I believe that what any of the three branches of government usurp the role of one of the others we have in some measure ceased to be that which we were justifiably proud of having been – a glorious experiment in personal liberty by self-government which is not yet demonstrably and finally a success.
I believe that Roe v. Wade was poorly found. I do not think judges should emanate into the penumbra. I find nothing in the Constitution that permits them to do so.
Notwithstanding the preceding, I believe in stare decisis.
I believe that the principal element in “the freedom of choice” should involve choosing to keep one’s knees together. Get that one right, everything else falls into place.
I believe that humanity is not a birthright, but a testable proposition. Notwithstanding my belief that human life is sacred, 
I believe that society has the right to defend itself against people who commit horrible crimes, and punish them proportionately. I believe that right includes the ultimate sanction. I believe that there are those who look like us that are not of us, who by their acts of inhumanity have proven that they are not human in that fundamental way that separates us from other mammals. I shed no tears when vicious murderers are put down, pour encourager les autres.
I believe that the DH rule spoils the game.
I believe that not all change is progress.
I believe in the law of unintended consequences.
I believe in learning from those who went before: Quo desiderat pacem, para bellum
I believe in passion.
I believe that rational analysis will always win in an argument with passionate beliefs.
I believe that wrestling with pigs is counterproductive. You just get dirty, and the pig enjoys it.
I believe that people of good will may disagree. I believe the other guy often has a point. I think he probably got there through a valid process. I don’t believe that disagreeing with him necessarily makes me a bad person. I believe that anyone who truly believes that it does is not worth arguing with. If you don’t agree, please see preceding belief.

This is the day that I set aside each year for reflection.
 
non omnis moriar

6 comments:

  1. One of my favorites. Thanks Cap'n.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, mine too. I'm going to put it on my own back page and after I make a few changes I'll call it my own. It's funny how when I was raised all of this was what was simply expected of a gentlemen of the old school. I'm afraid that nobody even pays it lip service anymore.

      Delete
  2. He was a writer without peer, a compassionate honest man and lived more in any day than any other man lived in a week.

    Well said. I share Lex's philosophy too, but the hard part is living up to it in a consistent manner.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember being a brand new dad back when I was reading Lex. I had a full time job and I spent time with my family and I had a little time left over to read or play a round of golf once a month. No complaints at all. But there he'd be, working just up Coronado from me at AIRPAC, flying every weekend with a round or two of golf, grinding out a Masters in Systems Engineering or some such and by writing, clearly showing that he was staying more on top of the news and events than I was. It was humbling. It still is.

      Delete
  3. How swiftly the earth swings round the sun. Thanks for keeping the words alive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. I still read the ones you keep.

      Delete