Day: April 1, 2013

What is considered unreasonable “Entitlement”?

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live your life

Today, the biggest challenge we must meet is the one we present to ourselves. To not become a nation that places entitlement ahead of accomplishment. To not become a country that places comfortable lies ahead of difficult truths. To not become a people that thinks so little of ourselves that we demand no sacrifice from each other.

Chris Christie

In my quest to understand “entitlement” today I watched the debate on whether college athletes should be paid. I also pondered the question why low caste status felons have no right or entitlement to live their life as this T.I. rapper or Marth Steward, and let us not forget the countless football and basketball felons and celebrities of hollywood that are still moving forward with life. To deny any one of any status associated with life and humanity I feel is an endictment to all the “Ehtical” core values affiliated with the Constitution.

I find all of the practices of “commercialism” to be unfair. Why is it alright for our college athletes to put all on the line with their future and get nothing while pursuing their dream? Why is it alright for the lower caste status felon’s to be exploited while serving their debt to society with no hope of ever being employed all the while having to survive on crumbs and no decent housing? Can you Imagine living a slow death coupled with the temptation to survive everyday and no help nor training or opportunity to reintegrate into society as a higher caste felon? I have looked from the inside out on these issues and felt compelled to write about it today. I also thought of the Human Beings called illegal citizens, my God whales and other protected animals seem to have better rights than we as Human Beings. We need to take a look at our value system. I am ready to make some noice, how about you?

The parallelism should enable readers to surmise at once the basis for our entitlement to certain equalities. Just as with the liberties to which we have a natural right, so here with respect to the equalities that we can rightfully claim, the ultimate basis of the right lies in the nature of man.

If human beings were not by nature endowed with freedom of the will and the power of free choice, to be exercised in the pursuit of the ultimate good that they are morally obliged to seek, they would not have, by nature, a right to liberty of action. If they were not by nature political animals, they would not have by nature the right to political liberty. Their right to these liberties lies in the fact that deprivation of them renders their power of free choice ineffective in the pursuit of happiness and frustrates their natural inclination to participate in political affairs.

The equalities to which we are all entitled, by virtue of being human, are circumstantial, not personal. They are equalities of condition–of status, treatment, and opportunity. How does our humanity justify our right to these equalities?

The answer is that, by being human, we are all equal–equal as persons, equal in our humanity. One individual cannot be more or less human than another, more or less of a person. The dignity we attribute to being a person rather than a thing is not subject to differences in degree. The equality of all human beings is the equality of their dignity as persons.

Were all human beings not equal in their common humanity, did they not all equally have the dignity of persons, they would not all be entitled to equalities of condition. The point is strikingly illustrated by an ancient and erroneous doctrine (which, by the way, takes many disguised forms in the modern world) that some human beings are by nature slaves and so are radically inferior to other human beings who are by nature their masters. If this view of the facts were correct, as it is not, all human beings would not be entitled to any equality of condition–equality of status, treatment, and opportunity.

The factual basis for the correct view is biological. All members of any biological species, human or otherwise, are alike in possessing the properties or powers that are genetically determined attributes of that species of living organism. These common properties, shared by all individuals of a certain species, are appropriately called species-specific. Of these species-specific properties, some are generic, shared by other animals; such, for example, in the case of human beings, are their vegetative and sensitive powers. Only some of man’s species-specific properties consist of powers that are not generic, but being distinctive and definitive of the human species, differentiate human beings as different in kind from other animals.

To say that all human beings are equal in their common humanity is, therefore, to say that all have the same species-specific properties, both those that are generic properties shared by other animals and those that are distinctive and definitive of the human species, such as man’s power of free choice and his power of conceptual thought.

The statement in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights is not, on the face of it, self-evidently true. Nor can it be made self-evident by substituting “are by nature equal” for “created equal,” and “endowed by nature with certain unalienable rights” for “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.”

The truth of the statement, even when the substitutions are made, is the truth of a conclusion reached by reasoning in the light of factual evidence, evidence and reasoning that refutes the ancient doctrine that some human beings (all members of the same species) are by nature slaves.

I am not going to present here the evidence and expound the reasoning that establishes the truth of the conclusion that all human beings, as members of the species Homo sapiens, are ipso facto equal. I have done that in another case study, entitled The Lynching of felons.

The conclusion there reached is that man differs in kind, not merely in degree, from other animal organisms, which means that while he has certain generic properties shared by them, with respect to which he may differ in degree from them, human beings also have certain distinctive properties that only they possess and that all other animals totally lack. It is the having and not having of these distinctive human powers that differentiates human beings in kind from other animals.

The truth of the proposition that all human beings are by nature equal is confined to the one respect in which that equality can be truly affirmed; namely, their all being equally human, their having the species-specific properties and especially the differentiating properties that belong to all members of the species.

There is no other respect in which all human beings are equal. Two or more individuals may be personally equal in some other respect, such as height, intelligence, talent, or virtue, but equality in such respects is never true of all.

The contrary is true. When we consider all members of the human species, we find that, in every respect other than their possession of the same species-specific properties and powers, inequalities in degree prevail. In other words, though all human beings have the same generic and specifically distinctive properties and powers, some will have them to a higher, some to a lower, degree than others.

Individual members of the species differ from one another either by innate endowment, genetically determined, or by voluntary attainment, individually acquired. From these individual differences arise the inequalities in degree that make one individual superior or inferior to another in some particular respect.

One individual, by nature equal to another in kind, which means equal through having the same species-specific properties, may be by nature unequal to another in degree, which means being genetically endowed with a higher or lower degree–with more or less–of the properties or powers that both possess at birth. In addition, one may be superior or inferior to another in individually acquired attainments as well as in genetically determined endowments. This may wholly result from differences in individual effort; but it may also be partly due to the favorable or unfavorable circumstances under which the individual strives to accomplish something.

For brevity of reference, let us use the phrase “specific equality” to refer to the personal equality in kind that is the one equality possessed by all human beings. Let us use the phrase “individual equality” or “individual inequality” to refer to the personal equality and inequality of human beings in all other respects, whether that be equality and inequality in degree of endowments or equality and inequality in degree of attainments.

From the declarative statement about the specific equality in kind of all human beings, what prescription follows? The answer is that all human beings are in justice or by right entitled to a circumstantial equality in kind, especially with respect to political status, treatment, and opportunity and with respect to economic status, treatment, and opportunity.

Being by nature equal, they are all endowed by nature with certain unalienable rights, unalienable because they are inherent in man’s specific nature, not merely bestowed upon man by legal enactment. Legal enactment may be necessary to secure these rights, but it does not constitute their unalienability.

Merely legal rights are alienable. Being granted by the state, they can be taken away by the state. Natural rights can be secured or violated by the state, but they do not come into existence through being granted by the state; nor does their existence cease when they are not acknowledged or secured by the laws of the state.

As we have seen, human beings, having by nature the power of free choice, have a natural and unalienable right to liberty of action. Being also by nature political animals, they have a natural and unalienable right to political liberty and participation. Justice requires that all should be accorded the equal status of citizenship with suffrage, through which status they can exercise their power to participate in government. All citizens have this power. It is totally lacking in those who, being disfranchised, are deprived of it. Having this power to some degree confers upon all citizens with suffrage a circumstantial equality in kind. Between those who have it and those who are deprived of it, there is a circumstantial inequality in kind.

Turning now from the political to the economic sphere, parallel reasoning reaches a parallel conclusion. Both as an animal generically, and as a specifically human animal, man has certain biological needs, such as his need for the means of subsistence in order to survive, and his need for certain comforts and conveniences of life, which he needs to live humanly well. Economic goods are the goods that man by nature needs in order to survive and, beyond that, to live well-to engage successfully in the pursuit of happiness,

These include more than food and drink, clothing and shelter. They include schooling as instrumental to fulfilling man’s need for knowledge and skill; a healthful environment as instrumental to fulfilling man’s need for health; ample free time from toil or earning a living as instrumental to fulfilling man’s need to engage in play for the pleasure of it and in the pursuits of leisure for the improvement of his mind by engagement in all forms of learning and creative activity.

From these natural needs for the goods mentioned and for the goods that are instrumental to achieving them arises man’s natural right to the possession of that sufficiency of economic goods which is enough for living well–for making a good life. The existence of natural right leads us to the conclusion that every human being is entitled to whatever economic goods any human being needs to lead a good life.

Just as all human beings are entitled to a political equality in kind, so they are all entitled to an economic equality in kind.

All should be haves with respect to political liberty, none have-nots, none disfranchised persons totally deprived of the power of political participation that a political animal needs.

All should be haves with respect to wealth in the form of whatever economic goods a human being needs to live well, at least that sufficiency of such goods which is enough for the purpose. None can be have-nots in the sense of being totally deprived of such goods, for total deprivation means death. But none should be destitute–have-nots in the sense of being deprived of enough wealth to live well.

In both the political and economic sphere, justice requires only as much equality of conditions as human beings have a natural right to on the basis of their natural needs. The statement of the matter just made occupies a middle position between the two extremist views mentioned earlier.

At one extreme, the libertarian maintains that the only circumstantial equality to which all human beings are entitled is equality of opportunity. He argues for this view on the ground that such equality tends to maximize individual liberty of action, especially freedom of enterprise in the economic sphere.

The libertarian rightly thinks that attempts on the part of organized society to establish an equality of economic condition other than an equality of opportunity will inevitably result in government regulations and interferences in economic activities that restrict individual liberty of action and put curbs on freedom of enterprise. Where he is wrong is in failing to see that such curtailments of freedom, made in the interests of justice, are proper limitations of liberty. His error lies in asking for more liberty than justice allows.

At the opposite extreme, the egalitarian maintains that the circumstantial equality to which all human beings are entitled should not be merely an equality in kind that is accompanied by inequalities in degree. It should be more than that. It should be the extreme form of circumstantial equality, which is an equality of condition attended by no inequalities in degree.

Stated in political terms, this would mean that all should be haves in the sense of having political liberty and power, but no individual should have more, and none less, of the power that all should have because it is requisite for participation in political life.

Stated in economic terms, this would mean that all should be haves with respect to wealth in the form of the economic goods needed to live humanly well, but also that all should have the same amount of wealth. None should have more, and none less, of the wealth that everyone needs for the successful pursuit of happiness.

The middle position between these erroneous extremes, in both the political and the economic spheres, calls for a moderate, not an extreme, form of circumstantial equality. With regard to the possession of political or economic goods, real goods that every human being needs, it calls for no more than everyone is entitled to by natural right. It is willing to settle for no less.

A moderate or justly limited equality of conditions is an equality in kind, with respect to either political or economic goods, but one that is accompanied by inequalities in degree that justice also requires. Justice requires only that all shall be haves. It does not require that all shall be haves to the same degree. On the contrary, as the next chapter will attempt to make clear, some are entitled by justice to more, and some to less, of the goods that everyone is entitled by justice to have.

Two additional reasons can be given for rejecting the wrong prescription concerning equality of conditions that the egalitarian recommends on the basis of man’s specific personal equality.

First of all, he appears to forget that the specific equality of all members of the human species is accompanied by individual inequalities of all sorts, both in endowments and attainments and in what use individuals make of their endowments and attainments.

Human individuals are not all equal in the way that so many precision-made ball bearings are alike–identical with one another in every respect except number, all having the same properties without any difference in degree. Unlike the ball bearings, which of course have no individuality at all, human individuality consists of individual differences that result in one person’s having more or less of the same attributes that also belong to another.

To recommend the prescription that all human beings are entitled to a circumstantial equality of conditions, political and economic, that should involve no differences in degree is to neglect or overlook the existence of significant individual inequalities in degree among human beings. These personal inequalities in degree call for circumstantial inequalities in degree, just as our personal equality in kind calls for circumstantial equality in kind.

The error being made by the egalitarian arises in the same way as the one made by the elitist who neglects or overlooks the personal equality in kind of all human beings. On the sole basis of personal inequalities in degree, the elitist recommends circumstantial inequality in degree with respect to political and economic goods. He rejects the recommendation of any circumstantial equality in kind, except perhaps equality of opportunity. The elitist makes that one exception because he believes that, in the race of life, the superior will win.

Elitism can be avoided without going to the opposite extreme of egalitarianism, simply by rendering what is in justice due human beings by reference to their personal equality without overlooking their individual inequalities and by reference to their individual inequalities without ignoring their personal equality. In recent history, the most glaring and egregious example of an egalitarian overreaction against elitism is provided by the cultural revolution to which China was subjected under the gang of four.

A second reason for rejecting the extremism of the egalitarian looks not to its injustice, but to its practical unfeasibility.

It is possible for miscarriages of justice to occur that would permit liberty to run rampant beyond limits and to become injurious license. The libertarian extreme is feasible, but not the egalitarian extreme. More liberty than justice allows is possible in society, but more equality than justice requires cannot be sustained.

To recommend that all should be haves with respect to political liberty and power, but that none should have more and none less, is to recommend a form of direct democracy so extreme that it would allow no distinction whatsoever between citizens in or out of public office–a democracy in which there are no magistrates, one in which everything is decided directly by a majority vote of the whole citizenry.

It is doubtful whether such extreme democracy ever existed, in Athens or in New England townships. It certainly would not be practically feasible in any state of considerable size; having a population so large that all its members could not deal with each other face to face, nor when confronted with the complexity of problems that states and governments must deal with in the contemporary world.

In the economic sphere, to recommend that all should be haves with respect to wealth in the form of whatever economic goods human beings need to live well, but that none should be richer and none poorer in their possession of wealth, is to recommend an equality of conditions that has never existed, except perhaps in monasteries where the monks, taking the vow of poverty, participate equally in what wealth is available for the community as a whole.

If, under secular conditions, all individuals or all families were somehow to come into possession of the same amount of wealth, in whatever form, that absolute equality of economic condition would not last for long. A magic wand would be needed, not only to bring it into existence, but also to make it endure. No one has ever worked out a plan whereby, short of magic, this extreme form of economic equality might become feasible.

Positioning is everything with God

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staying on course

Our heavenly Father understands our disappointment, suffering, pain, fear, and doubt. He is always there to encourage our hearts and help us understand that He’s sufficient for all of our needs. When I accepted this as an absolute truth in my life, I found that my worrying stopped.

Charles Stanley

Job 13:15

New International Version (NIV)

15 Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him;
I will surely[a] defend my ways to his face.

2 Timothy 1:12

New International Version (NIV)

12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.

I will forever be thankful to God for the gifts He has allowed me to see in myself and others. Being gifted with grace to endure storms of life and yet desire to be an aroma to God that will place you above your stance is to be thankful for. As I searched the web this morning I saw the blessings of God in full display. No matter who you are…The Lord has blessed you with intellectual faculties capable of vast improvement. Cultivate your talents with persevering earnestness. Train and discipline the mind by study, by observation, by reflection. You cannot meet the mind of God unless you put to use every power. The mental faculties will strengthen and develop if you will go to work in the fear of God, in humanity, and with earnest prayer. A resolute purpose will accomplish wonders.

I will not doubt, though all my ships at sea
come drifting home with broken mast and sails;
I will believe the Hand that never fails,
From seeing evil works to good for me.
And though I weep because those sails are tattered,
Still will I cry, while my best hopes lie shattered:
“I trust in Thee.”

I will not doubt, though all my prayers return
Unanswered from the still, white realm above;
I will believe it is an all-wise love
That has rerused these things for which I yearn;
And though at times I cannot keep from grieving,
Yet the pure passion of mixed believing
Undimmed will burn.

I will not doubt, though sorrows fall like rain,
And troubles swarm like bees about a hive.
I will believe the heights for which I strive
Are only reached by anguish andby pain;
And though I groan and writhe beneath my crosses,
Yet I will see through my severest losses
The greater gain.

I will not doubt. well anchored is this faith,
Like some staunch ship, my soul braves every gale;
So strong its courage that it will not fail
To face mighty unknown sea of death.
oh, may I cry, though body leaves the spirit,
“I do not doubt,” so listening worlds may hear it,
With my last breath.

An old seaman once said, “In fierce storms we must do one thing, for there is only one way to survive: we must put the ship in a certain position and kee0p her there.” And this, dear Christian, is what you must do. Sometimes, like Paul, you cannot see the sun or the stars to help you navigate when the storm is bearing down on you. This is when you can only do one thing, for there is only one way. Reason cannot help you, past experiences will shed no light, and even prayer will bring no consolation. Only one course remains: you must put your soul in one position and keep it there.

You must anchor yourself steadfastly upon the Lord. And then, come what may–whether wind, wave, rough seas, thunder, lighting, jagged rocks, or roaring breakers, whether the wheather whether you like it or not. You must lash yourself to the helm, firmly holding your confidence in God’s faithfulness, His covenat promises, and His everlasting love in Christ Jesus. My life has got to exude what I believe or else all is lost. My situations sometimes get so fearce that I often return to my dead man way of thinking, but praise God He is greater in me than he that is in the world. Stay the course my dear reader and watch the only wise God get yopu through.

Legal Hangings and Employment discrimination

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Hanging_Rope

Any people any where, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable- a most sacred right- a right, which we hope and believe, is to liberate the world.
Abraham Lincoln

I feel strong about the right2work act and all social, ethical and moral issues pertaining to any group or culture being disenfranchised. These practices are nothing short of a way to use the Law as a “Lynching Tree” modern day to suppress individuals across the races of society. Elections are affected, humanity is affected, people levels of sanity are affected. When you as educated beings deny a people to coexist in society and not have a right to vote for whom they want to represent them nor work to earn a living wage to prevent crime and oppression it is viewed as a ” Lynching.” People need to be corrected for crimes, but at best there is no reform while in nor when released.

This speech was said to have been delivered by Willie Lynch on the bank of the James River in the colony of Virginia in 1712. Lynch was a British slave owner in the West Indies. He was invited to the colony of Virginia in 1712 to teach his methods to slave owners there.
[beginning of the Willie Lynch Letter]

Greetings,

Gentlemen. I greet you here on the bank of the James River in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and twelve. First, I shall thank you, the gentlemen of the Colony of Virginia, for bringing me here. I am here to help you solve some of your problems with slaves. Your invitation reached me on my modest plantation in the West Indies, where I have experimented with some of the newest, and still the oldest, methods for control of slaves. Ancient Rome would envy us if my program is implemented. As our boat sailed south on the James River, named for our illustrious King, whose version of the Bible we cherish, I saw enough to know that your problem is not unique. While Rome used cords of wood as crosses for standing human bodies along its highways in great numbers, you are here using the tree and the rope on occasions. I caught the whiff of a dead slave hanging from a tree, a couple miles back. You are not only losing valuable stock by hangings, you are having uprisings, slaves are running away, your crops are sometimes left in the fields too long for maximum profit, you suffer occasional fires, your animals are killed. Gentlemen, you know what your problems are; I do not need to elaborate. I am not here to enumerate your problems, I am here to introduce you to a method of solving them. In my bag here, I HAVE A FULL PROOF METHOD FOR CONTROLLING YOUR BLACK SLAVES. I guarantee every one of you that, if installed correctly, IT WILL CONTROL THE SLAVES FOR AT LEAST 300 HUNDREDS YEARS. My method is simple. Any member of your family or your overseer can use it. I HAVE OUTLINED A NUMBER OF DIFFERENCES AMONG THE SLAVES; AND I TAKE THESE DIFFERENCES AND MAKE THEM BIGGER. I USE FEAR, DISTRUST AND ENVY FOR CONTROL PURPOSES. These methods have worked on my modest plantation in the West Indies and it will work throughout the South. Take this simple little list of differences and think about them. On top of my list is “AGE,” but it’s there only because it starts with an “a.” The second is “COLOR” or shade. There is INTELLIGENCE, SIZE, SEX, SIZES OF PLANTATIONS, STATUS on plantations, ATTITUDE of owners, whether the slaves live in the valley, on a hill, East, West, North, South, have fine hair, course hair, or is tall or short. Now that you have a list of differences, I shall give you an outline of action, but before that, I shall assure you that DISTRUST IS STRONGER THAN TRUST AND ENVY STRONGER THAN ADULATION, RESPECT OR ADMIRATION. The Black slaves after receiving this indoctrination shall carry on and will become self-refueling and self-generating for HUNDREDS of years, maybe THOUSANDS. Don’t forget, you must pitch the OLD black male vs. the YOUNG black male, and the YOUNG black male against the OLD black male. You must use the DARK skin slaves vs. the LIGHT skin slaves, and the LIGHT skin slaves vs. the DARK skin slaves. You must use the FEMALE vs. the MALE, and the MALE vs. the FEMALE. You must also have white servants and overseers [who] distrust all Blacks. But it is NECESSARY THAT YOUR SLAVES TRUST AND DEPEND ON US. THEY MUST LOVE, RESPECT AND TRUST ONLY US. Gentlemen, these kits are your keys to control. Use them. Have your wives and children use them, never miss an opportunity. IF USED INTENSELY FOR ONE YEAR, THE SLAVES THEMSELVES WILL REMAIN PERPETUALLY DISTRUSTFUL. Thank you gentlemen.”

LET’S MAKE A SLAVE

It was the interest and business of slave holders to study human nature, and the slave nature in particular, with a view to practical results. I and many of them attained astonishing proficiency in this direction. They had to deal not with earth, wood and stone, but with men and, by every regard, they had for their own safety and prosperity they needed to know the material on which they were to work, conscious of the injustice and wrong they were every hour perpetuating and knowing what they themselves would do. Were they the victims of such wrongs? They were constantly looking for the first signs of the dreaded retribution. They watched therefore with skilled and practiced eyes, and learned to read with great accuracy, the state of mind and heart of the slave, through his sable face. Unusual sobriety, apparent abstractions, sullenness and indifference indeed, any mood out of the common was afforded ground for suspicion and inquiry. Frederick Douglas LET’S MAKE A SLAVE is a study of the scientific process of man-breaking and slave-making. It describes the rationale and results of the Anglo Saxons’ ideas and methods of insuring the master/slave relationship. LET’S MAKE A SLAVE “The Original and Development of a Social Being Called ‘The Negro.’” Let us make a slave. What do we need? First of all, we need a black nigger man, a pregnant nigger woman and her baby nigger boy. Second, we will use the same basic principle that we use in breaking a horse, combined with some more sustaining factors. What we do with horses is that we break them from one form of life to another; that is, we reduce them from their natural state in nature. Whereas nature provides them with the natural capacity to take care of their offspring, we break that natural string of independence from them and thereby create a dependency status, so that we may be able to get from them useful production for our business and pleasure.

Although this letter is said to be a fallacy, I see these practices operating in this justice system and abroad in other areas of life. That is my opinion and so I used this letter to spark up motivation for you who maybe under the oppressive hand of injustice.

Frederick Douglass

A major theme in the philosophical tradition is the investigation into the workings of human nature. Some hold, for instance, that human nature is basically selfish – we all ultimately act to maximize our own gain. Others argue that cooperation is the central human instinct, self-interest being a condition imposed by society. One way of examining human nature is through the experiences of individuals who have lived at the extremes of human interaction.

Frederick Douglass was born into slavery in Maryland in about 1818. It is plain to all who read his work that this is a man possessed of exceptional intelligence and perception. Yet he was raised in a condition that denied any intelligence in him and punished his attempts to explore it’s potential.

Douglass wrote several autobiographical works. In them we may find clues to the workings of the human character. Especially since Douglas does far more than merely describe his experiences. He comments on those experiences in ways that underscore the major ethical and epistemological points that he is making. All along it is crucial to remember that Douglass has a single overriding purpose in his work; to expose the evils of slavery to the end of abolishing it.

In the passage excerpted below from Chapter VI of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, two strong points emerge:

1) Douglass details a process of change in the life and character of a woman, Mrs. Auld, the woman he served as a house slave for. Initially Douglass describes her as a smart, joyful, and kind person. Not long after becoming a slave-owner, however, she transforms into a cruel and angry tyrant. Throughout his works, Douglass observes other such transformations and explains the phenomenon as the inevitable result of “irresponsible power.” When a human being holds power over another without any moral responsibility to that other, the result is a degradation of the spirit, a loss of humanity. The same effect can be found in the literature of the Nazi holocaust, where ordinary people are transformed into extraordinary sadists when made to serve as concentration camp guards. Some will say that this shift in character is simply the negative side of human nature arising when given the opportunity. Douglass provides the foundation of a different analysis: that human nature strives towards equity and shared responsibility. When circumstances block that direction, the human character becomes deformed and dangerous.

2) Throughout all of Douglass’ writing is the emphasis on language as a key to freedom. In one part the Narrative he describes how he taught himself to read and write. That ability enabled him to manipulate the documents needed for his escape. He got his first clue about the power of language from Mrs. Auld, before her transformation. Language is connected to human freedom because it is the medium of social connection among individuals. When a person is denied the expressions of language, such as reading and writing, they are cut off from one other in significant ways. Douglass recognizes this isolation as the basis of slavery. The slave owner, Thomas Auld, understood this was well. He notes that if a slave were permitted to read, s/he will become “unfit to be slave.” Douglass describes how the idea of freedom took root in his mind as a result of his striving for knowledge. This presents a picture of the human character that is ever expandable through gaining knowledge and sharing that knowledge with others. The lesson is strong: even for those of us who read quite well, there are texts and areas of knowledge that are difficult to grasp. A common reaction is to turn away from a difficult text because it is not immediately accessible (i.e. easy). If Douglass is correct, then the rejection of new learning is the acceptance of a limit. Institutional slavery is no longer legal in most of the world, but we humans face a more constant struggle – the self-maintenance of our own bondage by an unwillingness to accept the challenges of new knowledge. The alternative is to treat oneself as a truly free and worthy being. Perhaps one of the gains that philosophy has to offer is the surmounting of self-imposed boundaries.

My new mistress proved to be all she appeared when I first met her at the door,–a woman of the kindest heart and finest feelings. She had never had a slave under her control previously to myself, and prior to her marriage she had been dependent upon her own industry for a living. She was by trade a weaver; and by constant application to her business, she had been in a good degree preserved from the blighting and dehumanizing effects of slavery. I was utterly astonished at her goodness. I scarcely knew how to behave towards her. She was entirely unlike any other white woman I had ever seen. I could not approach her as I was accustomed to approach other white ladies. My early instruction was all out of place. The crouching servility, usually so acceptable a quality in a slave, did not answer when manifested toward her. Her favor was not gained by it; she seemed to be disturbed by it. She did not deem it impudent or unmannerly for a slave to look her in the face. The meanest slave was put fully at ease in her presence, and none left without feeling better for having seen her. Her face was made of heavenly smiles, and her voice of tranquil music.”

“But, alas! this kind heart had but a short time to remain such. The fatal poison of irresponsible power was already in her hands, and soon commenced its infernal work. That cheerful eye, under the influence of slavery, soon became red with rage; that voice, made all of sweet accord, changed to one of harsh and horrid discord; and that angelic face gave place to that of a demon.”

“Very soon after I went to live with Mr. and Mrs. Auld, she very kindly commenced to teach me the A, B, C. After I had learned this, she assisted me in learning to spell words of three or four letters. Just at this point of my progress, Mr. Auld found out what was going on, and at once forbade Mrs. Auld to instruct me further, telling her, among other things, that it was unlawful, as well as unsafe, to teach a slave to read. To use his own words, further, he said, “If you give a nigger an inch, he will take an ell. A nigger should know nothing but to obey his master–to do as he is told to do. Learning would ~spoil~ the best nigger in the world. Now,” said he, “if you teach that nigger (speaking of myself) how to read, there would be no keeping him. It would forever unfit him to be a slave. He would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master. As to himself, it could do him no good, but a great deal of harm. It would make him discontented and unhappy.” These words sank deep into my heart, stirred up sentiments within that lay slumbering, and called into existence an entirely new train of thought. It was a new and special revelation, explaining dark and mysterious things, with which my youthful understanding had struggled, but struggled in vain. I now understood what had been to me a most perplexing difficulty–to wit, the white man’s power to enslave the black man. It was a grand achievement, and I prized it highly. From that moment, I understood the pathway from slavery to freedom. It was just what I wanted, and I got it at a time when I the least expected it. Whilst I was saddened by the thought of losing the aid of my kind mistress, I was gladdened by the invaluable instruction which, by the merest accident, I had gained from my master. Though conscious of the difficulty of learning without a teacher, I set out with high hope, and a fixed purpose, at whatever cost of trouble, to learn how to read. The very decided manner with which he spoke, and strove to impress his wife with the evil consequences of giving me instruction, served to convince me that he was deeply sensible of the truths he was uttering. It gave me the best assurance that I might rely with the utmost confidence on the results which, he said, would flow from teaching me to read. What he most dreaded, that I most desired. What he most loved, that I most hated. That which to him was a great evil, to be carefully shunned, was to me a great good, to be diligently sought; and the argument which he so warmly urged, against my learning to read, only served to inspire me with a desire and determination to learn. In learning to read, I owe almost as much to the bitter opposition of my master, as to the kindly aid of my mistress. I acknowledge the benefit of both…..”

“….My mistress was, as I have said, a kind and tender- hearted woman; and in the simplicity of her soul she commenced, when I first went to live with her, to treat me as she supposed one human being ought to treat another. In entering upon the duties of a slaveholder, she did not seem to perceive that I sustained to her the relation of a mere chattel, and that for her to treat me as a human being was not only wrong, but dangerously so. Slavery proved as injurious to her as it did to me. When I went there, she was a pious, warm, and tender-hearted woman. There was no sorrow or suffering for which she had not a tear. She had bread for the hungry, clothes for the naked, and comfort for every mourner that came within her reach. Slavery soon proved its ability to divest her of these heavenly qualities. Under its influence, the tender heart became stone, and the lamblike disposition gave way to one of tiger-like fierceness. The first step in her downward course was in her ceasing to instruct me. She now commenced to practise her husband’s precepts. She finally became even more violent in her opposition than her husband himself. She was not satisfied with simply doing as well as he had commanded; she seemed anxious to do better. Nothing seemed to make her more angry than to see me with a newspaper. She seemed to think that here lay the danger. I have had her rush at me with a face made all up of fury, and snatch from me a newspaper, in a manner that fully revealed her apprehension. She was an apt woman; and a little experience soon demonstrated, to her satisfaction, that education and slavery were incompatible with each other.”

Unless 18 Grams Is the Same as One, Crack Is Still Out of Whack

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social justice

In the order I was in, each brother takes five vows, one of which is teaching the poor gratuitously. As a young person I was seized by this idea of social justice and I wanted very much to follow my vow of teaching the poor gratuitously.

Godfrey Reggio

Drug sentencing disparities around the country seem to target anyone guilty of being arrested while black, and progress so far has been partial at best.

A gram of LSD changing hands while in the presence of a law enforcement agent can cost a participant in that transaction five years in federal prison. Up until 2010, being arrested while carrying the weight of two sugar packets of crack cocaine triggered the same sentence, even for a first-time offense. For a methamphetamine conviction, it’s five years without parole for five grams.

Mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offenders has helped swell America’s prison population to the largest on the planet. But recently some states have considered relaxing some of the more extreme discrepancies in their mandatory sentencing requirements. Missouri is a prime example.

For decades, Missouri State Representative Gary Fuhr was a police officer patrolling the streets of St. Louis, Missouri. Later, he became an FBI agent. He liked to say his career was spent “mak[ing] sure all our correctional facilities operated at maximum capacity A few years ago, Fuhr participated in a study breaking down who precisely was among that maximum capacity in Missouri state prisons, and what charges had crammed them in there. The discrepancies and inequities he saw were eye-opening. After Fuhr was elected to the state House in 2010, the Republican lawmaker sponsored legislation to keep some nonviolent offenders out of prison by creating community supervision alternatives. He also championed a bill to change the state’s sentencing laws for crack cocaine, which at the time were the harshest in the nation.

“Lawmakers are recognizing it was unfair because crack and powder cocaine are pharmacologically the same drug.”

Before Fuhr’s law passed, a person who sold 450 grams of powder cocaine on the streets of St. Louis faced the same penalty—a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years—as someone who sold six grams of crack cocaine.

House Bill 1256 minimized the “sentencing quantity ratio” of crack over powder cocaine from 75-to-1 to 18-to-1, which mirrored the changes in the 2010 federal Fair Sentencing Act. Now, someone has to sell 24 grams of crack in Missouri to get the same sentence as nearly half a kilo of powder cocaine.

Traditionally, these mandatory minimum sentences disproportionately impact minority communities. A 2005 study found that African-Americans represented 12 percent of the total population of U.S. drug users, but 34 percent of those arrested for drug offenses, and 45 percent of those in state prison for a drug offense.

“Racial disparities exist throughout the system,” Nicole Porter, director of Advocacy at the Sentencing Project, a Washington-based advocacy group, tells TakePart.

That said, the number of whites in prison has actually been going up. From 1999 to 2005, the number of whites incarcerated for a drug offense rose 42.6 percent, representing an additional 21,000 persons in prison, according to the Sentencing Project. Anecdotally researchers say that bump is due to sentences handed down for meth and prescription drug abuse.

Still, there are signs that America’s love affair with mandatory long sentences for drug offenses is beginning to wane. Seven states last year, including Missouri, softened their mandatory minimum sentences for certain offenses, including crack cocaine and other drug possessions, the Sentencing Project notes in a new report.

Those changes stemmed from public education campaigns, says Porter. “Lawmakers are recognizing it was unfair because crack and powder cocaine are pharmacologically the same drug.”

Fuhr’s push to reduce the cocaine “sentencing quantity ratio” came after national groups including the Sentencing Project found that Missouri was among more than a dozen states with a major sentencing disparity for the drugs. As his bill moved through the state legislature last year, he said, “This was a good move, and I think this is the right bill for it.”

Despite some progress, 12 states still have major crack-powder cocaine sentencing disparities. Missouri remains in that category despite its law change.

“The reality is we have a long way to go,” the Sentencing Project’s Porter says. Still, she adds, “the public is shifting.”

Don’t cut corners…

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cutting cornerscompromise

I would prefer even to fail with honor than win by cheating.
Sophocles

Proverbs 11:18
New International Version (NIV)
18 A wicked person earns deceptive wages,
but the one who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.

I once practiced deception in the way I lived and did business and yes the results were grievious. I am still trying to get out of the clutches of the results of that life style.

I knew a loyal carpenter named Joe Smith who worked nearly two decades for a successful contractor. One day the contractor called him into his office and said, “Joe, I’m putting you in charge of the next house we build. I want you to order all the materials and oversee the job from the ground up.”

Joe accepted the assignment with great enthusiasm. he studied the blueprints and checked every measurement and specification. Suddenly, he had a thought, if I am really in charge, why couldn’t I cut a few corners, use less expensive material, and put the extra money in my pocket? Who will know? Once the house is painted, it will look great.

So Joe went about his scheme. he ordered second-grade lumber and inexpensive concreat, put in cheap wiring, and cut every corner he could. When the home was finished, the contractor came to see it.

“What a fine job you have done!” he said. “You have been such a faithful carpenter to me all these years that I have decided to show you my gratitude by giving to you this very house which you have built.” Build well today. You may have to live with the reputation you create.

Character is like the foundation of a house–it is below the surface…Collapse this post

Find you something or someone to “Model” or “Motivate You”

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Hustler

Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.

Abraham Lincoln

I love the concepts these two entertainers model as a means to getting to the top of their profession. Honing your strengths and talents is key in life and business. Despite the obvious, some entrepreneurial cats are continuing down their stubborn ego-driven path of trying to seek fame in the game but have no skills that impress. You would think after the Facebook IPO fiasco people would realize hype does not open up roads to riches. Even in the hip-hop game, Maino said it best about the tragedy of getting famous before getting rich. We have to stop the fronting and start focusing on the fundamentals if we want to get ours.

When you chase fame and you don’t have fortune, you set yourself up for all kind of bad news. The first thing you do is make yourself a target to those who are truly superior to you. The “Art of War” teaches that you do not reveal yourself until you develop an unstoppable momentum. The second thing is fame is expensive as it cost to be the boss. The worst thing that can happen to an aspiring entrepreneur is they get some “recognition” and now everybody is all over them, calling them out, stressing them out, dissing them before they can even be at the level to put out their product or service.

When you focus on the fundamentals, you are laying down your foundation to your fortune. You get the skills, the material, the craft, the connects and you roll up your sleeves, hit the table and make it work. Business is about transactions and the only thing that matters in transactions is that you have something that someone wants to buy – not how many people know or recognize who you are. Once you have the fundamentals on getting paid, no one can really mess with you except the government.

But here is the thing, your fundamentals are what make you famous faster than chasing fame. Once cats see you doing good business and you handle smooth transactions and give good service, and have a positive vibe about yourself word of mouth is going to grow.

And cats can’t say a damn thing about you because you already doing it. All they can do is side hate but your customers already love you and will take your side and laugh at your haters and defend you with their money going into your bank account.

So with that said, when you see these cornballs featured in articles and media coverage but have nothing but a cute inspirational story to tell, just remember the difference between fame and fundamentals. Remember that Facebook was trying to IPO off fame and hype and you saw how far that got them in the IPO. Remember that Warren Buffet operates off fundamentals and you see the empire he built. A lot of you cats are on some fan-boy or fan-girl running around in this business game but don’t know a damn thing about fundamentals.

In my personal quest to find something marketable, Warren Buffet is one of the models, he used patience, and a practical approach seasoned with trust. he formed his first investment partnership with $100.00 in 1956. He has honed it, perfected it, and stuck to it even when the temptations to adopt a different strategy were tantalizingly sweet. He didn’t invest in either Microsoft or the Internet because he didn’t feel he could paint an accurate picture of where high tech was going to be in twenty years. His distinct approach is the cause of his personal happiness and professional success. I see him being relevant here due to him figuring out something that can serve as a practical guide for all of us who are aspired to be successful and contribute to others.

Negative hustling is all ignorance seems to portrait, but there are some who want to stay in a positive, life giving, money making attitude for themselves and those they create opportunity for to not only keep their stomachs full, but others. live well my friends. Don’t let mistakes made make of form your future. Pray for the Pratt family as we do for all of “Man Kind.”

Being shaped into Christ Identity

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Psalm 32
1 Blessed is the one
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit.
3 When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.

“We will face the reality that although we are fruit trees by the grace of God, we still have thorn bush responses to life. The THORN bush represents the fact that, as sinners, we all tend to respond sinfully to the circumstances of life.” Confessing our inward faults and sins is the beginning to change. Fumbling around what our sins are only keeps us in the deception mode and bound by the enemy. I am elated that God has increased me past this deception.

I have been taking a look at how it is that God changes our lives, and shapes us into the identity that is ours in Christ. Because of His death, and His subsequent presence in our lives, we have been changing into His image in a process that He does in our lives through our every day circumstances. We are literally “New creations” in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). Note the process in the above verse. The point is, God is using the “HEAT” in our lives to shape us into the people He wants us to be. We need to be sensitive to that, and open to change. Is your identity being defined by your circumstances then they are by the grace of Jesus Christ? It is important to realize that you are a “New” person in Christ, complete with a new heart that is able to be transformed, and act in obedience to God and His word. Change, however, begins in understanding that the thorns still are present. We still act out in anger, we still numb our spiritual senses with work, possessions, substances, we still take our identity from the things we do and the things that people say, and we still find our joy in everything except God.

Today is my start to take a real look the at the thorns in my life because it is in taking this hard look at myself that I am able to see what God wants to change in my life. We could all benefit from meditating and praying Psalms 139:23-24 on a daily basis. We are called to an “Ongoing recognition and confession of our ‘thorny’ responses to life.” How do you respond to the daily heat in your life?

1. Our sin is worse than we can imagine, but God’s grace is greater than our sin!
2. God is concerned about transformation at the heart level, not the behavior level.
3. We should benefit from our relationship with Christ here and now, and in eternity.
4. God calls us to grow and change.
5. Our Christian life is a lifestyle of Repentance and Faith