Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

The Four Freedoms … Responsibility and Ownership.

“River Flows In You”, Yiruma, from the album “Yiruma Piano Collection” , (2001)

So, my resolution after my  last post was, going forward, to avoid pointing fingers, avoid divisiveness, and avoid setting up others as the bad guy, the enemy, the Strawman supporting MY argument. To strive to avoid badmouthing and criticizing and pointing out the faults and failings of others in ways that pump up my own pride and ego.

In the words of my Grandfather … “Joe, if you can’t say something good about someone, don’t say anything at all.” To which my young self would usually reply … “But then there would not be much to say.” To which my Grandfather would then inevitably reply “That would be a nice change.” And Dad would laugh. Funny thing, the little vignettes which one ends up remembering out of all the adventures of one’s childhood.

I have repeatedly referred to GOD’s will in pointing out where many of my thoughts and my personal narrative stray from the will of GOD. And I have strayed a lot, usually in the same ways and about the same things, a kind of personal repertoire of sin. Knowing that an action or a thought is not in conformity with GOD’s will, I still fall into these habits and same old internal dialogue. Isn’t it about time to actually make a serious effort to stop.

So, going forward I resolve to work at “Living in the Divine Will”. What is the Divine Will and how do I conform my entire life to the Divine Will?  GOD has given me a template and a set of instructions and they are really pretty simple, ten basic Commandments. The Scriptures, and the Magisterium of the Church flesh out the details. And we have it from Scripture, the most important Commandment:

27And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. 28And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.” (Luke 10:27-28)

Now going forward I aim to look at what is good about what I see around me, even if that “good” is merely the absence of a more evil “bad”.  I want to take a look at the “Idols” of my personal world view … those things and persons and ideas which I have “worshipped” as ends in and of themselves, without GOD entering into the picture. I aim to try to illustrate how I can easily go astray whenever I lose sight of the fact that “All Good is Gift”.

So first, some Idols …  mostly things and a few people who I have thought to be “Just Awesome” and by their worship cementing the “superiority” of my ego in the firmament of my personal pantheon, all backed up by “facts” with which I can “Prove” that my judgements are correct and therefore not sinful. The First Idol … beautiful technology …  Ooooh, Aaaaah

150625-N-SN160-356 EVANSVILLE, Ind. (Jun, 25, 2015) The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, join their signature Delta formation with the Canadian Air Demonstration Squadron, the Snowbirds, for a photo shoot over Evansville, Ind. The Blue Angels are scheduled to perform at 68 demonstrations at 35 locations across the U.S. in 2015. (U.S. Navy photos by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Lindsey/Released)

150625-N-SN160-356
The Idol of beautiful Technology:  EVANSVILLE, Ind. (Jun, 25, 2015) The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, join with the Canadian Air Demonstration Squadron, the Snowbirds, for a photo shoot over Evansville, Ind.  (U.S. Navy photos by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Lindsey/Released)

And what about the International Space Station, over 20 years old  now and still ticking amidst all the usual controversy and budget wars and disputes between the players. I linked to the Canadian Government Site where we can see the entire space program as one big photo op.

ISS at 20 …

And then all the rest of the “Goods”… trains, and planes, and automobiles, and toilets and sewers, and water systems, and cell phones, and stoves and refrigeration, and microwaves, and furnaces, and the internet, and supermarkets with every kind of food imaginable, good and bad, available in all seasons, 365 days a year and 24/7 in some places, and coffee shops, and bakeries and cake shops, and wine stores, and swipe cards and financial payment networks.

And the communications and transportation networks that make that all possible, and all the fuel to run the electrical generators, and the electrical grid so the lights and our large screen LCD TV’s all come on whenever we want them.

Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute

And fuel for the furnaces and to fire the engines, and fuel the planes, and fly us to our annual holidays in our favorite resort,  and last but not least in this litany a great medical/health system standing by to give everyone with a health problem free health care services.

The truth is that all this “stuff” is a tribute to courage, will power, determination, grit, hard work and sheer brain power, there is just so much good stuff, and these great things make us feel proud of ourselves when we take the time to think about it all, and all of these great things in some way become Idols. We did this … we must be great.

“Eternity’s Sunrise”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Eternity’s Sunrise”, (2000)

Canada’s budget for the Space Program is about 260 million a year and falling. It’s really a question of balancing optics and priorities, and cutbacks, and needing to make savings in one area because of uncontrollable growth in other areas.

And Canada’s budget for Health Care in 2018 was … who knows, we are always way over budget … but we do know that total health expenditures in 2018 in Canada reached $253.5 billion, or $6,839 per per man woman and child in Canada. In 2018  overall health spending reached 11.3% of Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP). This s the biggest Idol in Canada. This is the Idol we all worship and sacrifice to, and sometimes it pays off and the gods give us a blessing, like my own recent surgery on my broken ankle.

It’s a question of optics and priorities. and “Free” Health Care is a huge vote magnet. And a 2 income family of 5 is paying $34,195.00 a year in taxes for “free” healthcare. And I and my wife (2 incomes) have been paying into this “free” system for about 45 years now, every year, year after year. There ain’t no free lunch, this is our sacrifice to our Idols.

The problem is that true “Freedoms” come with “Responsibilities”, and that is not the the same as “Rights”.

Free Republic of Albertastan

Back in ancient times, about 20 years ago, back before the Communists overthrew the government here and set up their little experiment in Social Equality, I and my optimistic friends used to entertain pleasant fantasies about a new kind of country.

We dreamed about setting up an independent Republic of Albertastan,  a kind of little Rohan of the west nestled under the looming Rockies, lots of open space for training and adventure, lots of internationally valuable resources, and with easily defended borders where everyone is welcome.  BUT the iron clad criteria for citizenship are:

#1: Prima Fascia evidence of real life Service and Sacrifice (eg. multi-tour military service with honourable discharge or equivalent non military service – equivalency to be determined by a panel of expert “citizens” and no one else)

#2: The criterion for eligibility for candidacy for political service is “citizenship” (see #1) and candidate acceptability determined on a scale relating brain power and willingness to work and accept basic subsidiarity and accountability in a hierarchy (no free rides ’cause you’re smart and/or good looking and/or related to someone and/or are a political hack, and so on and so forth). Wanting the position is an automatic fail. Only one position, one term,  per person, per lifetime. No exceptions.

#3: No person regardless of sex, creed, parentage, wealth, or belief system gets an exemption for any reason from #1 and #2. No person covered in #3 gets any say whatsoever in how the republic is run or what kind of programs are offered. Folks covered by #3 get normal respect for human life and dignity, as normal human beings, and as they have been recognized for, Oh … several thousand years … Natural Law is the foundation of civil law in this republic.

Those were the rules, the constitution as it were, of the Free Republic of Albertastan … real simple, easy to remember, and no exceptions, and everyone is welcome.

Albertastan Border Patrol

Any one who finds they don’t like this setup, or objects to any of the above or decides he or she or it demands his or her or it’s special “rights” and “privileges” will be given an escorted free ride to the nearest border crossing, 1 Gallon of water, a hamburger, and a map showing how to get to the nearest “other” place.

They would also be given a solid understanding that if they are still in sight in an hour they will be paint balled until they are out of site.  Well, it was a rather juvenile fantasy after all, but that didn’t mean that we were not proud of ourselves for “thinking” this all out … simple answers for simple people.

And we didn’t ever take into account the large Federal military presence, all under Liberal control of course as it was when we all served back in the 70’s. We just thought of them as our “little brothers”.

Freedom of Speech

But, the goal of setting up the Free Republic of Albertastan, the thought behind the dream, was in order to guarantee to all the inhabitants of Albertastan “The Four Freedoms”.

At that time we were concerned about the erosion of the Freedoms under the national and provincial government of the day, and all of us remembered the 80’s very well.

The four freedoms refer to President Franklin D. Roosevelt‘s January 1941 Four Freedoms State of the Union address in which he identified essential human rights that should be universally protected, and Roosevelt proposed that the government would do it for us.

Freedom of Worship

The Four Freedoms images are a series of four 1943 oil paintings by the American artist Norman Rockwell. The paintings—Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear—are each approximately 45.75 inches (116.2 cm) × 35.5 inches (90 cm), and are now in the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Wikipedia tells us: “Throughout his political career Roosevelt championed the cause of human rights.[6] In his annual State of the Union address to Congress of January 6, 1941, which was delivered at a time when Nazi Germany occupied much of Western Europe,[15] he asked the American citizens to support war efforts in various ways.

He stated his vision of a better future, founded upon four freedoms: “In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms,”[2][16] some traditional and some new ones: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

Freedom From Want

That was then, this is now. Most people have no memory of WWII, or the Nazis or the evils of statism.  Heck, most people have already forgotten 9/11. Many people seem to think that “Nazi” is what you call someone who disagrees with you on Twitter. Public memory is short and folks are mostly content and concerned with their immediate needs and wants. But there is a background undercurrent of change in our culture.

As a society we have already, mostly willingly, ceded Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Worship to the control of government and social media, that “erosion” we were worried about in our Albertastan fantasy. We no longer are willing to go to the line for someone else’s right to their point of view or their choice of world view. We seem to want more and more to shut down dissent.

We are still doing pretty good in the “Freedom From Want” category. We Nord-Americanos are doing pretty much better than most of the rest of the world when it comes to want. I think the next thing to erode will be Freedom From Fear, as a result of the loss of the first two freedoms over the last two decades.

Freedom From Fear

But the truth about all of this is that all these things we think we treasure are really Idols. None of them matter when looking at eternity. I mean they ARE nice and highly desirable, ideals even, but not as an end in and of themselves, except perhaps Freedom To Worship, but even that, when denied brings eternity into a much sharper focus, as we perhaps are witnessing in the underground Catholic Church in China. Maybe Faith benefits from some persecution.

What does it matter in eternity? So what does a country boy see out there in the “REAL” world? What are the “world problems” that I think might affect myself, my family and my life here in rural flyover country, what gets on the radar?

I am thinking about peace and conflict, and how I choose to drink at springs of peace or springs of conflict. After the data dump of calm emotion over the last couple of weeks, about observed events, I am thinking that I chose to observe and judge, and attribute, courtesy of lots of folks with nothing to do but emote about what is wrong in their life  and “create content”. Well guess what? I am doing the same damned thing.

Am I one of those “emoticons in suits”? Well, maybe an emoticon in Levis, and pretty thread bare Levis at that. No suits around here any more – that was all in a previous life, long, long ago. Don’t even have a tie anymore.

It’s 06:48 now and the sun is coming up on a cool dawn. With quiet time for second thought, the truth is, there are not really any problems anywhere which directly affect my immediate life … my “real” world is full of beauty, and peace, waiting for room in my soul … if I make the time and make the room to just let it in, if I don’t fill it up with other stuff.

So, I pray for “Purity of Heart”, that purity that goes beyond simple passions and pleasures. Speaking of purity here I am intending to evoke the purity which not only implies an absence of sin but goes much further to invoke the absence of all earthly affections. And I begin the quest to “Live in the Divine Will”.

I think I have quoted St. Bernard somewhere in a past posts like this: “Quid hoc ad aeternitatem,” as old Saint Bernard of Clairvaux used to mumble when faced with the usual parade of travail, what does it matter in the light of eternity?

Cheers

Joe

I hear the snakes are back in Ireland … hmmm

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