Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Nasty Dirty Animals

"Human beings are nasty, dirty animals I wouldn't keep as pets."

This was the opinion I heard uttered years ago by a person I love deeply. It was said at a time when she was retelling her own spiritual journey. She said it, looking back on days when that was how she felt about her fellow men and women. It was not how she felt now.

I'd like to meditate on this dour pronouncement a little, though. It does bear a lot of truth.

Any reading of history will come across plenty of incidents where this has been true. Nations war against nation, stacking up huge piles of death and destruction. One man will war against his neighbor, demeaning and dehumanizing the other. Large scale and small, we are nasty, brutish, unfeeling, unthinking, uncaring, unloving, unlovable. This has been a constant thread in the story of the human race.

Monday, January 28, 2013


Freedom is not without cost.

This truism is more apparent than ever, in the wake of the school shootings at Newtown, and in the reports being issued by some scientific groups. I don't want to enter the debate about gun control in this post. Instead, I want to try to develop some perspective to think about this and other contentious issues.

As Americans, we take for granted that we have individual freedom as an unalienable right. If we extend this idea, we see ourselves as having national freedom to go our own way, even in the face of opposition from other nations. This notion of personal and national sovereignty is fundamental to who we are as Americans. Some would say it's become too entrenched in who we are as Americans.

When we think of the cost of freedom, we normally think about the sacrifices that have been made by our military personnel in the wars we have fought over the years. We reflect upon the dead and wounded and express gratitude for their dedication to fighting for and preserving our freedoms, whatever the challenge. They are our heroes, and are honored as such.

The costs of freedom that I'm referring to are more in the vein of unintended consequences of the exercise of that freedom, in an assortment of spheres. I'm talking about the undesirable things that our freedom sometimes brings with it, and the actions we have to take to make them right.