Ideas for Independence

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Tomorrow (July 4th) is Independence Day in America.  It is a day set aside to remember when America’s Founders declared their independence from the British government.  I do not want to talk about the history surrounding the holiday, but I want to give some ideas of how to be independent yourself.

I.  Individuality

You are an individual.  You are unique.  Do not let anyone take that away from you.  So often we are forced to try to fit within certain guidelines.  As humans we like to associate things.  This helps us to understand our surroundings.  So, we have created labels.  Labels based on geography  (American, Canadian, Mexican).  Labels based on political ideology (Republican or Democrat).  Labels based on religious beliefs (Christian, Muslim, Jew).  Sometimes this pressures us into thinking we have to fall into one of these categories.  You may not line up under any particular political party or religious belief.  Yet, the pressure to conform sets in.  An independent person defines him or herself.  Some people describe themselves by their profession.  I enjoy the job that I work, but it’s just the means of an income.  It is what I do not who I am.  Come to your own conclusions of what type of person you are.

II.  Information

Knowledge is power.  Expose yourself to as much information as possible on any given subject.  It has been said that ignorance is bliss.  There is definitely some truth to this statement.  But ignorance can also be a tool of control.  Some people have irrational fears that others can exploit to control them.  Irrational fears are typically based on lack of knowledge.  Parents use this tactic all the time. For example… (How many parents have ever used this?)  If you keep that face, it is going to freeze like that.  The child lacks the knowledge to know that this will not happen.  So, the child complies with the instruction.  This is just a simple example.  Con artists are experts at using your ignorance against you.  Many car sales people or repair personnel will take advantage of someone they determine may lack knowledge of vehicles or vehicle maintenance.  The next time you buy a car, do some research on prices, car styles, safety features, etc.  This gives you power and will probably prevent you from being ripped off.

III.  Influence

I like the second definition given for influence at dictionary.com: the action or process of producing effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of another orothers:

I find it amazing how humans can convey their thoughts from one person to another.  We are able to use air coming out of our lung passing through our vocal chords to make sounds.  These sounds are made into words which convey ideas.  This sound is received into another’s ears and processed by the brain.  We do this with such frequency that we rarely stop to appreciate it.  Even when one person cannot hear, the other person can use sign language to express his or her thoughts.  Right now you are looking at shapes (letters, words, sentences) which are creating thoughts inside your mind.  These thoughts can stir up emotions within you.  And if an argument (line of reasoning) is powerful enough, it can change the way you think.

Can’t we influence others without intimidation?  Can’t we influence others without indoctrination?  Isn’t using persuasion better than using power?  Use the power of language to convince others of your side.  Do not resort to threats, force or fear.  Nobody lives their lives in a vacuum.  We influence others and are influenced by others daily.  You can influence someone in a positive or negative way.  Being independent means removing the negative influences and keeping the positive ones.

In conclusion:  Be an informed independent individual with a incredible influence.

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Freedom of Thought (Part 2)

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I have received a lot of feedback about my last post, “Freedom of Thought”.  I would like to continue along those lines in this post.  In this post I really want to challenge you.  I challenge you to be honest.  Evaluate your beliefs. 

I.  Challenge

Put your beliefs to the test.  Challenge them.  Ask the tough questions.  Do not just ask, “What do I believe?”, but “Why do I believe it?”  Why should I believe what you believe?  Do you believe things because of fear, faith, or fact?  Do you do things a certain way because that’s the way it’s always been done?  Asking questions is a great way to cut to the core of an issue and find the truth.  I feel that if somebody says that something cannot be questioned, it is because there is something to hide.  Suppose a politician was accused of embezzling government funds.  Bank records indicate that the same amount of money that was stolen was deposited into his account.  The IP address used to make the transfer came back to the politician’s computer.  The media becomes aware of the facts in the case and decide to question him.  He says, “I am an elected official and should not be questioned because of my position.”  Would this be acceptable to you?  Wouldn’t your first assumption be that he was trying to hide something?  

II.  Consistency

Applying the same standard to your beliefs as you would to others beliefs.  You reject one religion’s claims because they are illogical, immoral, or indecent.  Will you apply the same thinking if your religion’s claims are pointed out to be the same?  Say you are a Republican and you point out a failed promise made by a Democrat.  Will you also point out when Republicans fail to keep promises?  Everybody likes to think they’re right and it can be difficult to admit when we’re wrong.  Consistency brings honesty and fairness to the discussion.  

III.  Change

This is the tough one.  This is where the rubber meets the road.  Are you willing to change your beliefs if they are found to be wrong?  This takes courage and commitment.  Don’t be afraid to change your beliefs because of what someone else may think about you.  True friends will accept you based on your character.  Something I really want you to ponder…Should I believe something just because others say I will be punished for not believing it?  This is just a fear tactic.  You should believe something because of the truth and validity of the claim based on sound reason and solid evidence.  

Conclusion:  I am not telling anybody to change their beliefs.  I am just posing a challenge.  You have to apply these principles and answer these questions for yourself.  If we are not willing to apply these rules to our own beliefs (whether religious, political or otherwise), then we are being intellectually dishonest.  Never be content with the amount of knowledge you possess.  Ever since I have freed my mind to think outside the box and the book, I have a hunger to learn.  A whole world has been opened to me!  Science, history, logic, and philosophy are my main interests at the moment.  We have more access to information than any time in history due to the internet.  It would be a shame to waste it.  I am trying to add my two little cents worth by writing this blog.  Please consider what I have written.

Freedom of Thought

I read a lot of articles about freedom.  Most people think about freedom as free from the restraints and coercion of government.  While governments do their best to take our freedom, we limit our own freedom in many ways.  Debt can be extremely limiting to your freedom.

Let us consider the freedom of thought.  Do you feel free to think about issues your way?  Will you allow yourself to read the arguments of those with opposing views?   Are you free to question what you have always been taught?  Do you challenge the status quo?  Remember, errors continue when they are not challenged.  Answer these questions honestly.  If you answered “No.” to any one of these then you are not free in your mind.  Mental shackles usually hold us longer than physical ones.

Let me give you a little of my background.  I was raised in an Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) church.  IFB churches are notorious for forcing you to see life through their tainted lenses.  You are expected to accept whatever the pastor teaches without question.  If you do question anything, you are considered “backslidden” or  rebellious.  For many years I went along to get along.  I had questions, but I pushed them to the back of my mind. I convinced myself the “devil” was making me doubt.  I surrendered to preach, and even attended bible college for two years.

Through a long process of events (that I will not go into now), the questions came back and accompanied by more.  I continued to put on a front and preach anyway.  Finally I realized that I was nothing more than an impostor.  I was basically an actor that would put on a performance and repeat rehearsed lines.  I was doing this to maintain an image for others.  Recently I have gotten to the point that I cannot put on the show anymore.  I am no longer preaching and have no desire to be in full-time ministry.  I am no longer associated with the IFB and actively expose it as often as possible.  This may shock some of you or some may have expected it.  I have to be true to myself and my family.

Now, I have such freedom of thought.  I ask questions that aren’t supposed to be asked.  I challenge premises.  I read as much as I can.  I do not feel bound to believe things because I am told it is true.  I am not ashamed to say I do not have all the answers.  I can say, “I don’t know.”

I challenge you to “think outside the box” (if I can use a cliche’).  Question everything.  Do not let a man behind a pulpit tell you what to think!   Allow logic and reason to guide you.  Cast off the chains within your mind and enjoy freedom!

Freedom to Parent

http://www.examiner.com/article/u-s-attorney-general-says-homeschooling-is-not-a-fundamental-right

In the above article is the story of the Romeike family.  This family is originally from Germany.  They came under persecution by the German government because they were educating their children themselves at home.  Homeschooling is illegal in Germany.  So, the Romeike’s were facing expensive fines and the threat of having their children taken away.  In 2008 they fled to the United States seeking refuge from this persecution.  In 2010 the Romeike’s were granted political asylum and began their new life here in the “land of the free”.

Well, it looks like America may not be as free as they thought.  The family now faces deportation.  The deportation effort is being led by Attorney General Eric Holder.  It is reported that Holder has said homeschooling is not a fundamental human right.  This statement has stirred up a lot of anger from the homeschooling community.

It may surprise you to know I agree with Holder’s claim, but I think the premise being considered is wrong.  Instead of asking, “Is homeschooling a fundamental human right?” let’s consider, “Does an individual or a group of individuals (i.e. government) have the right to dictate what another individual can peacefully do on his own property?”

First, we must get an understanding of the meaning of a right.  This word is used so often that it doesn’t mean much any more.  Many essays, books, and articles have been written about “rights” by far smarter men than I.  This will be basic.  All rights are property rights.  This starts with the realization that you own yourself and you own your justly acquired property (goods).  Since, I do not own you or your property I have no “right” over them.

The reason I say that asking “Is homeschooling a fundamental human right?” is the wrong premise is because it is essentially the same as asking, “Is playing baseball a fundamental human right?”  Should I have to ask my neighbor whether I can play baseball on my property with my children?  That would be absurd!  Playing baseball is not a “right” and neither is homeschooling.  Now with that being stated, I do not have the right to come onto your property and play baseball against your will nor stop you from playing baseball.

I do not have the right to force you to homeschool your children and I do not have the right to prevent you from homeschooling.  The freedom to homeschool your child is really just the freedom to parent.