View Full Version : Superstition and patriotism--a pointless topic
Something like that. Anyway, there's not much point to it, but I figured that it would be rightly superstitious, and therefore patriotic, if I was to burn this, post #1776, on having nothing to say. It occurred to me only a couple of posts back that I should disappear long enough to post it on July 4, but that would be outright stupid.
But then it hit me that the link below is the perfect reflection on the above reflection, and I thus place this feeble topic here, in Ethics, Morality, and Justice instead of Free Thoughts.
But it's true that I have no real point today. Comments, of course, are not discouraged.
I can give you a topic, oh, say, "Patriotism: what does it get you and what does it cost, as an individual or society? Talk amongst yourselves." Or something like that.
(PS--Read the first verse of The Star-Spangled Banner, you know, the part everyone in this country is expected to know? I nod to Kurt Vonnegut when I wonder was there ever an empire that asked more useless questions of itself in its anthem? Every sentence, including the "home of the brave" ends in a question mark.)
06-26-01, 03:57 PM
First, <b>tiassa</b>, I thought it was pretty cool that you listed this as post #1776. Very appropriate, of course. But it had another feel to it as well. Just as a tangent real quick, I think that you're the only poster that pull this off ...: "Back in 1592 (post number), I wrote about the legalization of marijuana ..." It just amazes the hell out of me that you have written so much. It's posters like you and <b>Cris</b> and <b>Emerald</b> which have made me realize that I could try so much harder when I post something.
Patriotism: what does it get you and what does it cost, as an individual or society?
My grandfather served in WWII as a belly gunner in the B-1 bomber (not sure on the technical name). He was your typical dashing young man, smoked cigarettes constantly, and quite the ladies man. He settled down, found religion, founded a family, and quit smoking--cold turkey (always amazes me that he could do that). As long as I can remember, he always tried to do good to others. Tried to treat everyone fairly; of course, he had his idiosyncrasies, which were traceable to his generation. He was basically the closest to a father I'll acknowledge. Damn good man.
When we, my brothers and I, would ask him about his experiences in the War, he <b>never</b> volunteered anything. (We only knew about the belly gunner position from our grandmother--and that's all she's said on the matter). I learned from his choice not to relive those experiences through narrative that my grandpa did not like what happened in the war. That sunk in.
My uncle (same grandfather's son) served in the Vietnam War. He went and experienced all the horrors of war over in that region of the world. He came back nearly devastated, emotionally and spiritually. He became heavily involved in cocaine use, went through a couple marriages (managed to have two great kids as far as I know), and delved into alcoholism. Eventually, he managed to subdue the cravings for cocaine, which increased his alcohol bingeing. Gradually, this, too, got under a feasible amount of control. There was obvious pain in his eyes whenever I caught a glimpse of him at some of our family gatherings, as if his thoughts were straying towards his memories of the war. He had a near god-like respect for my grandfather. Neither, as far as I know, ever discussed openly their experiences in their respective wars. Which sunk in further.
At one point in my life (an indecisive part), I had the option to go into the armed services. I weighed my options and considered. The idea of killing another human being weighed heavily on me and I couldn't justify it.
I think too many people glorify killing and lessen the emotionality of murder. "Defend your country!" is the slogan that is touted as a patriotic motto for the naive. Instead of the country asking what it can do to help us, we're expected to voluntarily come up with means to help the country. I, too, am against conscription. As the article you provided said:
We Americans claim to be a peace-loving people. We hate bloodshed; we are opposed to violence. Yet we go into spasms of joy over the possibility of projecting dynamite bombs from flying machines upon helpless citizens. We are ready to hang, electrocute, or lynch anyone, who, from economic necessity, will risk his own life in the attempt upon that of some industrial magnate.
I have a younger brother (much younger than me actually) who aspires to enter the armed forces, especially a green beret. Hopefully he'll outgrow the ambition. Because, to him, perhaps killing another person, as long as they're different, is justified by the State.
I believe that the more someone seeks to understand his enemy, the less he will have the desire to kill him. Doesn't mean he will side with his point of view, but it just means that there's one less person that's heaven-bent on killing.
In another thread, you wrote that most likely a lot of us has forgotten what the reason was we had a revolution in the first place. I agree with you. It is so much easier to sit back and allow someone to rule over you, thumbscrew and all, than to stand up and exercise your rights. And about the part of coming full circle, you couldn't be more on target, I'd say.
Patriotism, to me, is like respect. If someone's continually shitting down my own shorts, it's a little hard for me to respect them.
Or something like that. We all know I don't speak French.
But both Ms Goldman and I agree heartily.
07-03-01, 06:36 PM
Patriotism is really an interesting thing. In the conventional sense patriotism is pride in your homeland. Patriotism even further taken is meant to serve the state, weather that be enlisting for the military, or working as a civil servant. Not only does this help the government but in some cases it helps the fellow citizens. Patriotism is thought of as almost a blind faith in the government, and that isn't completely true.
I believe in some sense a true patriot is some one who shows defiance to the government, but only in the way of keeping it on track so that it doesn't alter from its original intention. A prime example of this would be the men that persecuted Richard Nixon during Watergate. They defined the party that held power in the government, but through that act of defiance they secured that the government didn't undermine itself, by destroying the system of checks and balances, primarily the voting rights of the people.
A more direct act of patriotism is the more conventional, serving the state. The most extreme act would be to give your life to protect the freedoms of its citizens. Immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor, by Japan, my 41 year old grandfather, who had been a sailor, but never in the navy, went to the Naval Enlistment office to sign up for the Navy. My grandfather said "they wouldn't touch him with a ten foot pole", but that wasn't really the point. My great-grandfather loved his country, a country he wasn't even born in so much that he with two children, a wife and a home would give it up at the age of 41 to fight, and possibly die for his country. That is patriotism, not some superstition or blind faith in the government.
Patriotism! Hmm interesting. 1776! Hmm!
As a British citizen living in the US I have perhaps a different perspective on patriotism and especially 1776, compared to my American friends. When you combine that with my tendencies towards Transtopian principles, then indeed my views might be seen as, umm, unusual and untypical.
Why does patriotism exist? Easy huh! It’s back to that basic primeval instinct that drives all of us to do much of what we do. Survival. Patriotism is a devotion to one’s own country, and especially a concern for its defense. Look back in history and the animal world. Wherever a group form together for mutual benefit there will normally be strong urges for all within that group to defend that group, often to the death of some individuals. Evolution has built into us the underlying principle that the individual has no importance, and is expendable; it is the group, or the species that must survive. Many insect groups have specific soldier variations that exist purely to defend the hive or the nest – and will die if necessary fulfilling their function. But look also at the hyena, the lion, etc. Powerful survival instincts designed to protect the group rather than the individual.
Are we any different from those lower life forms? I don’t think we are. Think of your own family, for most it represents a group worth defending. A loving parent might well defend her/his children sometimes to point of her/his own death. But in many other areas where people group together we see the same actions. Consider, team games like baseball, football, soccer, etc. Defend and protect each of the group against the attackers.
Patriotism is simply that evolutionary instinct raised to the level of a whole country. If your interests, and the interests of your family, are aligned with the ideals represented by your country then you have everything to gain by defending your country and hence the survival of your family, or friends, or ideals, even if it means losing your own life.
But wait, what good is it to me if I’m dead? Exactly. Finally, over the past 100 years especially, we are rapidly changing our perspective away from defense of the group and more towards defense of the individual. To be able to see this you must look back in history again.
For most of the history of mankind, you would be lucky if you survived to 30. Most would die much younger. Disease and bodily parasites were rife, cures were few, and basic hygiene did not exist. In effect death was very common and life was very cheap. Wars and conflict were widespread, and tyranny was normal. People managed to cope with these conditions by believing in the hope given by superstitions and religionists who would tell of a better life after death. Ignorance was common and religions ruled; the common people were easily duped, and without any education what choice did they have? Religious leaders and the ruling tyrants were typically closely aligned or were one and the same. When armies were needed there would be the cry for recruits “come and fight for your God and King, die gloriously”. To many, fighting and dying quickly was preferable to the squalid life experienced by most whose lives usually ended by dying from painful and dreadful diseases. Those that suffered mutilations through battle did not survive long since infections took hold very quickly. Invalids and the elderly were near non-existent (elderly here means over 30).
But what of now? Those past dreadful conditions no longer exist, at least for what we call the ‘western world’; but other parts of the world still have significant problems. So what has changed and what are the trends for the future?
Life spans have increased because science has replaced religion as the dominant influence. There are few countries left now where religion rules; Iran is one in particular and Afghanistan is probably the most horrendous of the Islamic controlled countries. Where religion rules, life is squalid, is of poor quality, freedoms of the individual are largely suppressed, and life spans remain low. As knowledge replaces superstitions, cures for diseases are found and quality of life increases accordingly. But it is the increase in life spans that is the deciding factor for the changes in the attitudes towards patriotism and defense of the individual.
In the middle of the 20th century life spans reached an unprecedented average of 63 years. At that time the concept of retirement was beginning to surface and the authorities of the time set a retirement age of 65 assuming that very few would survive to enjoy it. Western governments saw few problems paying out old-age pensions to a few elderly people. As we now know the situation has dramatically changed. But with the geometrically increasing rate of scientific developments comes the knowledge that aging is just another disease to be cured like any other. Recent breakthroughs in cancer cures, and just today (7/3/2001) we see the surgical breakthrough of the first fully self-sufficient mechanical heart operation. All the indications are that whatever causes humans to die is on the hit list of scientific research. There should be little doubt that life spans are going to increase much more and with a corresponding high quality of life.
So what? Well with good life quality and increasing longevity, human life is no longer seen as cheap or something to be given up lightly. In the 20th century we saw the new curiosity of many people refusing to fight for their country through reasons other than cowardice. But more importantly we see western governments becoming increasingly reluctant to go to war unless the outcome and objectives are very clear. The lives of military personnel have now become very valuable. The trend is unmistakable: People are not prepared to lose their own lives or lives of loved ones without exceptionally good reasons. For someone to die now at age 25 means the probable loss of potentially 75 more years of quality life. As expected life spans continue to increase then the loss of a long life will be seen as increasingly unacceptable.
This trend of longer life spans also means that where once someone would sacrifice their life for family or friends now there will be a tendency for hesitation. This could be seen as selfishness, but I think it will be seen as an explosively rapid shift in the evolutionary instinct towards survival of the individual. Self-sacrifice for a group or country will continue to become less common.
When anti-aging research transfers its breakthroughs in extending animal life spans to humans such that unlimited life spans become a reality then suddenly life will become priceless. This will result in an absolute refusal to risk a human life defending almost anything. We will have shifted away from survival of the species or a group to the survival of the individual.
At this point patriotism will have to take on different meanings if it is to survive at all. The individual will become the paramount entity. But what of families? The trend here is also unmistakable: In the first ľ of the 20th century there was significant stigma attached to divorce and most married couples would stay together whether they wanted to or not. The current assessment is that, in most of the western world, 3 out of every 4 marriages now end in divorce. Much of this is due to greater freedom, confidence, and newfound independence of women, but with longer lives there seems little reason to stay with just one person for endless decades. The trend is that individuals are thinking more about personal happiness rather than happiness of a family. This tends to support my proposal that survival of the individual is starting to become dominant.
I run my personal life according to my above observations. I am now single, but I have enjoyed an interesting 18-year marriage, and other relationships, but have no plans to ever take part in a close relationship again. I am fiercely independent and value my personal freedom above nearly everything else. I now devote my time to personal education, fitness and health, self-defense, and anything that I see that will maximize my personal survival. I will become a US citizen in about 3 years time, not because I will have any particular loyalty to the US but because I see this area as the best place to maximize my survival.
To all my American friends and readers – have a happy 4th July – enjoy the fireworks.
07-04-01, 03:07 PM
The post asked, "what does patriotism give you and the others of your society?" Well patriotism, the love for one's country, isn't dead I would say but isn't as "trendy" as it was when our parents, or grandparents were alive. But I don't think patriotism is dead, most American's weather they admit it or not would rather stay here than move to another country. If they didn't they would have left, nothing bares a US citizen from leaving. If someone doesn't like something generally they'd change it. Though we aren't as giddy about America, as past generations have been, it is because we are quicker to acknowledge the darker parts of this country. All in all, I think we have things better than most every other country.
Cris did you move to America, from Britain saying, "I think the US will be the perfect place to maximize your survival," or did you say, "wow I think this country is pretty cool." Personally I think you picked the latter.
As for the survival of the individual, which is something that should be explored in a separate thread, the individual has always been important to the individual him (her) self. But if the individual says to screw the group and pursue goals for fulfilling himself only than this could bite him in the ass later. We as a society should put others in front of us, because it is the right thing to do. I am afraid that we may all begin to get to selfish and stop helping others. If you help someone than they might return the favor. There will be no questioning weather this is right or wrong, or religious or not. This is the right thing to do, its that simple, this isn't a direct product of brain-washing by past generations, or some Darwinian principle. That simple.
This disscusion was on patriotism, not weather people should die for their country. The two often go hand in hand. During my draft-eligible years, I lived with the personal resolution that I would not answer any demand to go overseas and kill and die. This doesn't mean I won't resist an invader, domestic or foreign, but it does seem that something about patriotism involves warfare, the purpose of which is killing and dying.
Though we aren't as giddy about America, as past generations have been, it is because we are quicker to acknowledge the darker parts of this country. All in all, I think we have things better than most every other country. I'll agree with you across the board here. But a quick note:
* Each year, at our annual SeaFair, we have hydroplane races on Lake Washington. And every year, the Blue Angels squadron performs as part of the ceremony. The last couple of years I've actually gone out to watch the planes, and not just catch it on TV. Last year, I watched these warplanes streaking fabulously overhead and heard Marge Simpson's voice in my head, an echo of Homerpalooza: "Cannons are designed to hurt. They're designed to hurt!"
A curious note: Face your 18th in the US under the spectre of warfare. George HW Bush came on TV one day to describe his war plan, and mentioned specifically that he had no immediate plans to install conscription--no plans for a Draft.
It had its effect; everyone in my senior class was queerly quiet the next day. A president had said the D-word. Lesson to future presidents: let the press bring up the D-word.
Reminiscing ... reminiscing.
All in all, I think we have things better than most every other country. Well no not really.
In terms of technology the USA is about 5 years behind the UK and Europe – and here I mean every-day things like; cell-phone technology and standards, HDTV standards (it’s difficult to buy a new TV in the UK now that isn’t widescreen), fuel-economic car engines, and as for utilities like kitchen equipment the US offerings are positively ancient (about 10 years behind), things like refrigerators, washing machines, dish-washers, etc.). And car radios – oh man – I had RDS in my UK car 10 years ago. Every radio station in the UK and mostly throughout Europe broadcast digital data signals – these give things like the name of the station (it is displayed on the screen, it would be unusual to see a frequency number), plus a ton of other information like traffic problems – the radios can be requested to scan for any stations that indicate a traffic broadcast and will interrupt the normal music station for you, etc. Oh and network following capabilities – automatically tune into different transmitters as you move across the country to maintain the same national radio station signal.
And as for religious intrusion then the UK is quite different: The UK is officially a Christian country and there are no rules about separation of church and state. This means that without a rule to target there are effectively no conflicts and no one complains and pretty much most people treat religionists as kinda quaint. Compared to the UK an American is 4 times more likely to follow a religion than someone in the UK. Most people in the UK are largely apathetic towards religions, whereas the USA is one of the most superstitious (religious) countries in the world.
Cris did you move to America, from Britain saying, "I think the US will be the perfect place to maximize your survival," or did you say, "wow I think this country is pretty cool." Personally I think you picked the latter. Sorry it was planned. At the time I was a single parent supporting my three daughters. Two didn’t want to come to the US, so my long-term plans took precedence over family. Oh yes I love them very much but I knew they could do well wherever they were. The decision was difficult, but I did go through with the plan and I split up my family. They now live with their mother. I needed to continue to work for a computer manufacturer but I needed to be closer to where decisions are made, that really meant Silicon Valley. I now manage a department of senior designers for Compaq. My longer term plans are somewhat beyond the scope of this thread – and yes I do plan far ahead.
We as a society should put others in front of us, because it is the right thing to do. Not a good enough explanation – very muddy thinking. Firstly you are not a society you are an individual. You are also thinking of yourself as short-lived. It is certain that medical science is going to enable you to live well past 100, and I am very sure that in those 85 years, medical breakthroughs will be unimaginable, you should expect a potential life span measured in 100s of years and not in decades. Now re-evaluate your assertion that you will always put others first. How prepared are you to sacrifice your life for someone else knowing how much potential life you are going to lose.
But you have also misunderstood me. Not sacrificing my life for someone else doesn’t mean that I won’t help others. The fabric of a society will remain vital for the foreseeable future, and mutual cooperation and division of skills will continue for a long time. In the normal course of day-to-day living, issues of death are very rare. With long-lived individuals much greater care will be giving to protect those lives, volunteering to fight in a war is going to be extremely rare to the point where wars will disappear – no one will be prepared to fight and risk death.
So explain to me why you think, “it is the right thing to do” to sacrifice your life for others? And this is essentially what patriotism requires – a defense of your country often requiring you to lose your life.
I am afraid that we may all begin to get too selfish and stop helping others. If you help someone than they might return the favor. Do you realize you are showing a selfish trait? Is your motivation for helping someone an expectation that you will profit from the activity? OK that’s a little unfair. What you are really suggesting is what is known as altruism – that is a selfless action to help someone else at some cost to yourself. A soldier for example is the ultimate altruist – the cost is their life. Volunteer charity workers are good examples of altruists. And this might confuse you but I have strong altruistic tendencies, but only if my survival is not threatened.
Do you realize that a capitalist society (e.g. the USA) significantly discourages altruism. The motivation and incentives for most Americans to take any action is profit. There is no apparent profit in being altruistic. But why is profit so important? Obvious – people need to earn money to survive. Financial independence is still comparatively rare (i.e. someone who does not need to work for a living).
Now look to the future again, say 100 years out: Assume very long life-spans have been achieved, assume robotics and AI have matured and all menial tasks, clerical tasks, and all manufacturing tasks have been replaced by machines. This will have happened gradually over your lifetime – but the obvious question must be, is everyone now out of work? Yep pretty much. Economic chaos will likely result – well possibly. The question for politicians will have been how will wealth be distributed in this new society (sorry Economics was part of my college studies). Hmm I think I might be losing you here – I’ll skip the long explanation.
Throughout your lifetime you will have been encouraged to save and invest, there will be mechanisms where you will acquire wealth even if you aren’t working. Machines will now be producing products and you will still be a consumer – those are the essentials of the world economy. Inflation will not exist since the labor force will be insignificant. So what are you going to do with your life if work isn’t needed? Well altruism is one answer, but will there be anyone who needs help – robotic machines will be quite capable of most helping tasks. I know what I’ll be doing, what about you?
Sorry, long answer again.
When armies were needed there would be the cry for recruits
If I'm not mistaken, the concept of recruiting is relatively new, like the last couple of hundred years.
07-04-01, 09:08 PM
So do the British make fun of us on the Fourth, or are they still sore about us kicking Cornwallis' ass at Yorktown?
Cris a response is always appreaceated, don't worry about being long, quality not quantity, should always remain a precedent which you tend to be pretty good at keeping. Congrats on the job at Compaq, (personally I am typing this on a HP). As for the US being behind in technology, I don't think this is because we are a slow and stupid country. You were talking about digital car radios, the reason we don't have them is because Americans don't care about digital car radios. HDTV, fuel efficient cars, and other appliances aren't bought as much because Americans are very stubborn (as you can probably tell), we aren't very receptive to change. I'm not sure if your assumption of refrigerator technology being ten years behind Europe is exact, but we may be a few years behind. Once again this is on a big account of the average American doesn't really want to spend an extra $300 to purchase an energy-efficient appliance.
About the religious differences, the US's separation of church and state I think is a law that should be vigorously upheld, even as a believer myself. I don't think the two institutions mix very well. The UK does have religious problems, more specifically in Northern Ireland. Protestant v. Catholic fighting has been raging forever, luckily the US has been largely spared of such infighting.
I still think we should put ourselves in front of others when it comes to fairly minor, to significant matters. Don't feel like exploring this any further.
True, I did misunderstand you on the whole life for another issue. Thanks for clearing that up for me. I'm glad to see that you agree with me on the purpose of helping others.
I falsely assumed that if I put, helping others for the sake of making yourself feel good that I might get attacked, so I left that out and gave a more, emotionally void answer. If I came off as selfish I didn't mean too. Hope ya understand.
You started to lose me towards the end of your reply. Let me try to be brief, which is probably an effort that will fail. Bare with me. If machines produce products, with no human workforce (I have many problems with that issue which can be discussed in another thread) than how do we pay for goods and services with no income. Could this mean the abolishment of money all together? I don't think that Star Trek vision will ever come to fruition. I would appreciate if you could explain to me how the economy would not explode in a cloud of illogical terror if humans were replaced from labor. As long as I can live a satisfactory life it doesn't seem that bad. Though I do have another issue with that...
Thanks again, my favorite Brit.
The Brits on the 4th of July.
This might disappoint you but most Brits are unaware of any importance regarding the 4th of July. Those that have some connections with Americans would probably know its significance, and if any school kids had just been reading an American history text then they might remember the date, otherwise to the Brits the 4th July is just another day. And any details of any of the battles would be strictly left to school history lessons, and US history is not usually taught in schools. So sorry, the 4th for the Brits is a non event.
Although losing the American colonies was a disaster to the Brits at the time, you must remember that they also had a huge empire that spanned some 50% of the landmass of the world. They were used to winning battles, but they lost some as well. The losses were never well publicized. I think that the Americas was the only part of the empire that became independent over a battle. All the other countries became independent peacefully and usually with the help of the Brits. I believe that there is more than a coincidence that the USA is still seen by the Brits as a violent society. If you mention 1776 to a Brit there is a good chance it will have no impact or meaning.
However, the Brits will know about 1066, bet you don’t know what that means. That was the date when William the Conqueror of Normany invaded Britain, killed King Harold, and took control. This is known as the battle of Hastings, now a seaside resort on the southern coast of England. Ultimately this turned out to be a good thing.
Reminds me of part of a song, oh yes Harold was killed by an arrow in his eye. The chorus goes something like –
… an’ there was ‘arold, on ‘is ‘orse with ‘is ‘awk…
And the final line goes –
… an’ there was ‘arold, on ‘is ‘orse with ‘is ‘awk and an arrer in ‘is eye.
Translation – and there was Harold on his horse with his hawk and an arrow in his eye.
Enjoy the bangs.
Regarding your question of how you receive income if robots have your job: See a new thread in the Robotics forum.
07-05-01, 11:04 AM
Although I can no onger remember where I read the following, it has always stuck with me"
"Patriotism is a form of tribal behavior which encourages hatred, violence, a mob mentality, and many other antisocial characteristics in individuals and groups."
As I read the papers and watch the news, I see an undless parade of examples of this point of view.
I consider myself to be a patriot (American), but not in that I'm a flag-waving reactionary. I love my country in that with the attitude I grew up with, probably any other country would have locked me away for good by now. My father served in WW2 with the Navy. He saw combat and has no qualms talking about his war experiences. He'll tell you about the fighting, and he'll tell you about the gung-ho warriors he served with (he wasn't exactly gung-ho on getting shot, himself). What he always leaves out is the Hollywood glory. There were no John Waynes in his war. There were just a bunch of scared kids, some reacting with bravado, others reacting with panic, and others reacting, like he did, with a healthy dose of fear, just enough to keep them alive.
What this has to do with my brand of patriotism is that growing up hearing these stories honed it to a realistic edge. We were taught in our history books in school the quote "My country right or wrong...". Well, I knew those three little dots at the end meant that there was more to it than that, and I looked it up. What I read was "My country, right or wrong. When right to keep right, when wrong to make right." What this means to me is that if I see something wrong with my country, it is my duty to do everything in my power to set it right. It really isn't the country I am patriotic about. After all, it's just a chunk of dirt that we walk on. It isn't the nation, the people. I don't know most of them, so I can't declare any devotion to them except as fellow human beings. My patriotism is for the ideals of this country; that we are equal, that we should be free to choose our own fates, and that we each have but one responsibility and that is the safeguarding of that freedom for ourselves, for any who also seek it, and for the generations to come.
What would I NOT do for my country? Abandon it's ideals.
07-18-01, 03:24 AM
Patriotism is a form of tribalism...Our nation serves as our surrogate tribe, and we indentify with it personally, convince ourselves that our personal welfare depends on our existence, and that we are part of it and it a part of us.
This is all a form of tribal behavior, and that is not a bad thing. Don't get so offended Bobby Lee.
Also, as someone who has visited Panama, it is a wonderful place. Open, free, and democratic. The people are friendly and inherit american virtue of working hard, while maintaining the spanish attitude of relaxation.
Politically Panama is a wonderful place politically, but it is a paradise geographically. Some of the most breathtakingly beautiful scenery in the world, not to mention the diversity and ease of life.
07-18-01, 03:29 AM
And Panama was even that way under Noriega (sp.?).
Norriega was removed only because he stopped jumping at the US's command, and began listening to his own people...
The so-called election that Noriegga lost was only because the US backed his opponent with US money, and because the US (allegedly) tampered with the results.
The invasion of Panama by the US was declared illegal by the UN, and it was illegal, as have been almost all of the US's dealings with the Panamanian people.
Just some background. :)
07-18-01, 03:32 PM
Well, if your only panamanian experience was as a soldier stationed there, then you surely must realize that your experience is not typical.
Especially in the 70's-80's, when you were (whether you knew it or not) a representative of an organization that was actively oppressing the panamanian people, and trying to interfere in the governmental system. So of course your experience will be uncomftorable.
Did you know that the US created Panama? Before we were interested in the Panama Canal, Panama was nothing but a rebellious province of Colombia, not officially recognized by any nation in the world.
When the US decided to try and build the Canal, we could not get the Colombian government to ok the project.
So, we changed the status of Panama from rebellious province to fledgling nation, for the sole purpose of building the Canal. At no point were Panamanians consulted, and there was not a single Panamanian signature on the agreement giving the US the right to build the Canal. Then the US installed a puppet government, and has remained illegally involved in panamania affairs ever since. Even Norriega (once again, sp.?) was installed by the US, as it was thought he would better obey the US then the lapdogs that had been in power.
And the worst atrocities in Panama have been committed by the United States military, up until 1990 (well, those are the last ones we know about).
So, I guess to make my point, everything anybody experienced as a US soldier was justified by the Panamanian people.
10-13-01, 07:31 PM
WASHINGTON, DC:In a historic decision with major implications for the future of U.S. participatory democracy, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 Monday that the American people are unfit to govern.
The controversial decision, the first of its kind in the 210-year history of U.S. representative government, was, according to Justice David Souter, "a response to the clear, demonstrable incompetence and indifference of the current U.S. citizenry in matters concerning the operation of this nation's government."
As a result of the ruling, the American people will no longer retain the power to choose their own federal, state and local officials or vote on matters of concern to the public.
"This decision was by no means easy, but it unfortunately had to be done," said Justice Antonin Scalia, who penned the majority decision in the case. "The U.S. Constitution is very clear: In the event that the voting public becomes incapacitated or otherwise unfit to carry out its duties of self-governance, there is a danger posed to the republic, and the judicial branch is empowered to remove said public and replace it with a populace more qualified to lead."
"In light of their unmitigated apathy toward issues of import to the nation's welfare and their inability to grasp even the most basic principles upon which participatory democracy is built, we found no choice but to rule the American people unfit to govern at this time," Scalia concluded.
The controversial ruling, court members stressed, is not intended as a slight against the character of the American people, but merely a necessary measure for the public good.
"The public's right to the best possible representation is a founding principle of our nation," Justice Sandra Day O'Connor told reporters. "If you were on a jet airliner, you wouldn't want an untrained, incompetent pilot at the controls, and this is the same thing. As federal justices, we have taken a solemn oath to uphold every citizen's constitutional rights, and if we were to permit an irresponsible, disinterested public to continue to helm the ship of state, we would be remiss in our duties and putting the entire nation at risk."
The ruling brings to an end a grueling 10-month process, during which more than 100 Supreme Court hearings were held to determine the public's capacity for self-governance. Despite the fact that these hearings were aired on C-SPAN, a majority of U.S. citizens were unaware of them because coverage was largely eclipsed by the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, the retirement of NBA legend Michael Jordan, and the release of Titanic on home video.
The Supreme Court found that, though 78 percent of U.S. citizens have seen the much-anticipated Star Wars prequel trailer, only one in 200,000 were aware that the multibillion-dollar "Star Wars" missile-defense system had been approved by Congress. Additionally, while 62 percent of citizens correctly identified the cast of Suddenly Susan, only .01 percent were able to identify Attorney General Janet Reno beyond "some woman Jay Leno always says looks like a man." Further, only .0003 percent could correctly identify the ancient Greek city-state of Athens as the birthplace of the concept of an educated citizenry participating in democratic self-rule.
Just some of the millions of empty voting booths that can be seen across America each November.
But the final straw, Supreme Court justices said, came last week when none of the 500,000 random citizens polled were aware that Russian President Boris Yeltsin had threatened global thermonuclear war in response to NATO air attacks in Yugoslavia.
"I mean, come on," Justice William Rehnquist said. "Global thermonuclear war? It's just ridiculous. There was just no way we could trust such a populace to keep running things after that."
Populations currently being considered to fill the leadership void until the American people can be rehabilitated and returned to self-governance include those of Switzerland, Sweden and Canada.
"I'm willing to do what I can to help out in this time of crisis and make sure that my vote counts," said Stockholm resident Per Johanssen. "I've been reading up on America a bit, just to get a general idea of what needs to be done, and from what I can tell, they really need some sort of broad-based health-care reform over there right away."
In a provisional test of the new system, the Canadian province of Saskatchewan will hold primaries next Tuesday to re-evaluate last fall's gubernatorial election in Minnesota.
The lone dissenting vote came from Justice Anthony Kennedy, who, in his minority opinion wrote, "Although the American people are clearly unable to make responsible decisions at this time, it is not their fault that they are so uninformed. Rather, the blame lies with the media interests and corporate powers that intentionally keep them in the dark on crucial issues."
Kennedy concluded his opinion by tendering his immediate resignation and announcing his intent "to move to a small island somewhere."
Thus far, reaction to the ruling has been largely indifferent.
"The people ruled unfit to govern? Yeah, I I think I might've heard something about that," said Covington, KY, sales representative Neil Chester. "I think I saw it on the news or something, when I was flipping past trying to find that show about the lady sheriff."
"If you ask me, voting was a big pain anyway," agreed mother of four Sally Heim of Augusta, ME. "At least now I'm free to do my soap-opera-trivia crossword puzzles in peace, without all that distraction about who's running for Second District Alderperson and what-not."
Despite the enormous impact the ruling would seem to have, many political experts are downplaying its significance.
"It doesn't really change anything, to be honest," said Duke University political-science professor Benjamin St. James. "The public hasn't made any real contributions to the governance of the country in decades, so I don't see how this ruling affects all that much."
"I wouldn't worry about it," St. James added. "It's not that important."
And the source of this essay is ...?
10-13-01, 10:45 PM
The source of this essay is the satirical newspaper "THE ONION"
My personal favorite.
Ah, the Onion! Yeah, it sounded a little too blatant to be anything that someone would allow to actually go on record. That link was pretty funny. Panda-B-Gone? :D
12-08-01, 05:41 PM
12-09-01, 09:45 AM
"I am a Rock, I am a Island!" ""Because a Rock Feels no pain, and a Island never dies!"
No man is a Rock, or an Island........
Patriotism is a colaberation, a type of religion if you will, for those that belive in the same general values, of said subject matter.
01-01-02, 08:19 AM
It's all about borders isn't it? Within these borders dwell groups. Grouping is a human response to exterior threats. We hope our tribe is powerful enough to turn aside an attack from another tribe. We gain courage by puffing out our chests and dancing around the fire with our fellow tribal warriors. Waving a flag is equivalent to dancing around the fire. We wear the symbols of our tribe with the pride that comes from belonging to a group. There is comfort in belonging to something larger than ourselves; a powerful country, a religion, a bowling club.
Borders are mostly drawn across a map as a political expedient. But we come to think of the placement of these borders as sacred. What would have been different had the borders of the United States included Canada? What if Canada instead included all of North America? In the latter case, there would have been no American Revolution, and no war of 1812. We would still obey our laws, go to work, and educate our children just the same. If I then suggested breaking apart North America into two countries you would think me crazy.
For example, I agree with a suggestion I once heard that the US/Canadian border might better have been drawn along longitudinal instead of latitudinal lines. All the politicians had to do was give the map a 90 degree spin before they drew the line. As a New Englander I tend to have more in common with a man from Halifax or Montreal, than I have with a man from Las Vegas. A man from Edmonton, Alberta might well have more in common with a man from Billings, Montana, than either of them have with a man from Boston or Quebec City.
In the 1860's the American South requested that a new latitudinal line be drawn on our maps. Abe Lincoln refused. The ensuing war fought over this idea of drawing another imaginary line on the map killed just under a half million Americans. But what if Lincoln had generously allowed that line to be drawn? How different would the world seem today? Would slavery exist today in the Confederate States of America (CSA)? I don't think so. Slavery in America would have died on its own, almost certainly by 1900. The USA and the CSA would have joined forces in WW2 to help defeat the Axis powers. We would be as close trading partners as the USA is today with Canada. None of us would give much thought to the fact that three countries make up North America instead of two. We would have inherited the situation and think of it as normal.
I'd rather my neighbors were good citizens more than good patriots. My favorite T-shirt had an image of our blue planet on it, and underneath were the simple words, "All One People". Unfortunately, I wore it to death and can't find a replacement (Anyone know where I might find another?)
"Patriotism is a pernicious, psychopathic form of idiocy" George Bernard Shaw
For example, I agree with a suggestion I once heard that the US/Canadian border might better have been drawn along longitudinal instead of latitudinal lines. All the politicians had to do was give the map a 90 degree spin before they drew the line. As a New Englander I tend to have more in common with a man from Halifax or Montreal, than I have with a man from Las Vegas. A man from Edmonton, Alberta might well have more in common with a man from Billings, Montana, than either of them have with a man from Boston or Quebec City. This is all well enough, but as a New Englander, what can you possibly do about Florida? Either way, you get to deal with that?
I'm in Seattle, man. Our weather's Canadian, eh. ;)
this reminds me of the time they tried to split California into two states. They wanted to cut it just south of Sacramento, which would have put the San Francisco Bay Area in Southern California. Well, the good people of Silicon Valley (Santa Clara Valley) pride themselves on being NORTHERN Californians, and refuse to associate themselves with the beach-bum/bimbo stereotype of Southern California, and the good people of the Hollywood region argued a similar case along cultural lines, that we up north were too much of workaholics to earn the title of "So Cal". Most said that if there was going to be a split, to split it just south of Monterey. Well, that would have upset somebody's demographic applecart, so the whole idea was scrapped.
Now I live in a region called Central California, which shares much in common with Southern California, but has its economic ties firmly rooted with Northern California. The culture here is decidedly Central Californian, with an emphasis on clean and inexpensive public water to keep the region liveable and farmable (it had been a desert before the Spanish settlers) and a feeling of civic calmness that is unreal. People here just don't get excited about much, unless the city tries to flouridate the water supply, in which case the townsfolk threaten to burn down city hall. (THAT got kind of funny. Picture a modern city street with throngs of angry peasants fully supported by the police. Need I add that the city council backpedalled on their decision? Now the farmers are keeping the water in check, since their livelihoods depend on unflouridated water. The council doesn't dare make a move toward the reservoirs.)
At some point, we just accepted the fact that Californians are a weird, ecclectic lot. We're uptight, we're laid-back, or else we're pitchfork wielding peasants storming into the city council chambers and demanding that the voice of the public be heard. It's a colorful place all right, and we just accept the differences that go with each region. So who cares what borders are where? People are either going to get along or else they aren't, and no geopolitical line drawn on a piece of paper is ever going to change that.
When touring colleges, one that I decided against was Southern Oregon State College, in Ashland. One of the things they note during the tour is a few things around the school named "Jefferson". Apparently, at one point, it was proposed that from about Sacramento north to ... oh, possibly Eugene, but I think it was a more southerly landmark ... should be reserved as a territory and admitted to the Union under the name State of Jefferson. It never happened, obviously. I have none of the detail; it's just a factoid that popped into my head when I read Oxygen's post.
03-20-02, 11:24 PM
It's because of their patriotism that the Germans started the World War II. It's because of patriotism that France and Germany disputed Alsace/Lorraine for centuries. It's because of patriotism that England and France fough for centuries. It's because of patriotism that Israel and Palestine are allways in war. It's because of patriotism that the US fought in so many wars...
I could go on and on...
Patriotism is stupid. We are not Brazilians, Canadians, Americans or whatever... we live in the same planet, we share the same home: Earth. And anyone that we hurt affect us directly or indirectly. We are all one nation, not a bunch of. It's all about cultural differences. It's all about tolerance and Harmony. There are many tolerants, but Harmony is the ideal.
We can have different cultures, different beliefs, different ideals... but it's our differences that make the world interesting. If we were all equal, the world would be a real boring place to live in...
Stop patriotism. Peace among us; peace in the world.
Patriotism is stupid. We are not Brazilians, Canadians, Americans or whatever... we live in the same planet, we share the same home: Earth. And anyone that we hurt affect us directly or indirectly. We are all one nation, not a bunch of. It's all about cultural differences. It's all about tolerance and Harmony. There are many tolerants, but Harmony is the ideal.I'll raise a glass to that one. Several, in fact.