For what it’s worth

wizard crop

“Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.”

— Stephen Stills, “For What It’s Worth”

“For what it’s worth” – Why is that the name of the song? It’s a great and probably apt title, but I wonder what Stills was thinking. Why not “Stop Children, What’s That Sound?” or “(Everybody Look) What’s Going On”?

I do think it’s time we stop, children, and everybody look what’s going on.

What IS going on? WTF is going on?

Who benefits when people are this angry and this afraid? Why, what a surprise: It’s the people who are selling the anger and the fear – and especially the people who claim to have a solution.

I approve THIS message: You and I have more in common than we have differences. I got no need to beat you, I just want to go my way. You go your way, I’ll go mine. There ain’t no good guys, there ain’t no bad guys, there’s only you and me and we just disagree.

Asterisk: There are bad guys, and they’re the ones who elevate a little disagreement into fighting words. As long as we leave each other alone, we have no need to quarrel. Them folks in high places, they like to see us fighting, partially for their amusement but mostly because it keeps us from paying attention to them. The longer we stay mad each other, the longer they can perch on their potard and promise to protect us from each other. I reckon they’re protecting us by sticking us in a cage and yelling, “Cage fight!” And so we fight until we’re blue in the face, or black and blue physically, and the ones who sow the discord sit back and smile. For what it’s worth.

My solution? Don’t get mad at anyone except the ones who try to herd you into a cage and fight. In fact, don’t even get mad at them, because anytime you let anger be your primary emotion, you play into their hands. Don’t walk into the cage and don’t fight.

What you do with a fear monger is the one thing that drains their power: Ignore them. Don’t listen to the whispers or the shouts. If you’re angry, you’re in their clutches. They want you mad, and scared, and feeling like somebody ought to do something, because they’re there to volunteer to be that somebody, but give them the chance and what they’ll do will just stir us all against each other while they ride to the bank and cash our checks.

So here’s what I’m going to do: Love my neighbors. Give more than I receive. Eschew the initiation of violence. It seems to me there’s plenty of world for for all of us.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain spinning wheels, flipping switches and pressing buttons. In the end, he has no power. Or rather, he has only as much power as you surrender to his control. So ignore him and deny him the power with his loud booming voice and his flashy explosions. You’ll eventually be able to see he’s only a weak, powerless guy with a squeaky voice and an uncertain fear of his own making shining from his eyes.

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2 plus 2

2 plus 2

Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.

— George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four

The most dangerous man

“The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable …”

― H.L. Mencken, Prejudices, Third Series

Wildflower Man

Saturday Stories: Summer rerun

wildflower man

The man who carried himself older than his years, boulders weighing down his shoulders, adjusted his glasses and harrumphed.

“Meeting will come to order,” he said. “Here about the complaint regarding Sam Tucker’s lawn. Mr. Tucker present?”

A bearded man who should have combed his hair that morning raised his hand. “Here, your honor.” Continue reading

Road to dictatorship

I found the book The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant on a list of “7 Books Everyone Should Read” by Jim Rohn, whose insights I have always admired (or at least ever since I first heard of Jim Rohn). Since Will Durant was the only author with more than one book on the list (The other is The Story of Philosophy), I checked him out first.

It’s indeed a book that everyone should read. Written in 1968 and necessarily framed against the backdrop of that tumultuous era, it’s packed full of insights and revelations about the nature of humanity as reflected in the arcs of history.

I listened to the audiobook but have resolved to find me a more permanent copy – and the close of Chapter 10 struck me as so eerily prophetic that I went back and transcribed what I heard: Continue reading →

#TBT: I just want to go my way

f2aed-mal

One of the great characters in contemporary fiction is Capt. Malcolm Reynolds, owner of the cargo ship Serenity in Joss Whedon’s brilliant television show Firefly and the film named after the ship. At a pivotal moment in Serenity, Reynolds meets his main adversary, a nameless assassin we know simply as The Operative, and during their conversation comes an electrifying exchange that sums up Reynolds’ character in 11 words.

Operative: I have to hope you understand you can’t beat us.

Reynolds: I got no need to beat you; I just want to go my way.

Consider how powerful a message those words convey. I don’t need to convince you that my way is right and yours is wrong; I simply desire to live my life on my terms and let you live your life on your terms, as long as we do no harm to each other. There is plenty of room on this vast world for both of us. Continue reading →