Humanism

“A World Lit Only by Fire” by William Manchester, highlights the triumph of humanism over ideology. Humanism, in my simple terms, transcended ideology by respecting the value of human life.

Since the times of Christ, and actually since the beginnings of mankind, there has been a constant push to enslave all thinking into a box. A box that has specific walls and sides made from ideology. The box is constructed by trading individual responsibility and self-determination for the expected, but never delivered, ease of harmonious group-thinking.

This was never more stark than the Catholic church’s attempt to subdue mankind by removing all education and only allowing an select group of acolytes to have knowledge. Marxism, in all its forms, follows the same path. Education is used as a tool to create classes of malcontents that can perform a function but don’t know why – demeaning mankind to being tools.

Both these attempts of instilling ideology, collective belief in ideas, instead of using all the tools at our disposal to understand more about nature and nature’s God, were bloody, horrible affairs. The dark ages are described “dark” for a reason: they were. In the same vein, all Marxist governments have a tremendous trail of blood: because they killed people.

Humanism allowed all civilization, even non-Western, to find truth by hypothesis and experimentation. In the simplest terms, it gave hope. When the world was dark, knowing that the earth revolved around the sun, and that our solar system was just one of trillions, provided peace because it highlighted the one simple objective of life: love God. Now mankind could cut through all the noise and focus on meaning. No longer did an obviously perverse and corrupt religion control man’s search of meaning.

Marxism is the same attempt to subvert and enslave. It demands that individual freedom, free thought, and more specifically that mankind can love God, be rejected in favor of ideology. What Marxists seem to forget, is that the world is lit by fire, and boxes make good tinder.

The Mirror as a Tool

Sometimes the hardest person to face is the one in the mirror, but when we see ourselves clearly we can not only better accept reality, but we can use the insight into our blemishes as well as our strengths in order to find our way forward. As those qualities change with time, both positive and negative, it is important to take some time to reflect on where we are at as humans. I’m not as good at somethings as I was twenty years ago, but I also know I’ve grown and am way better at other things over that same time frame. We change, we grow, we shrink, we contort to new realities and our perception of ourselves needs to be current in order to best meet the shifting challenges in life . Don’t be afraid of mirrors. When you get stuck or frustrated, start with a frank look in the mirror. Reality wins every time in spite of our perceived identity.

Cycles through Proverbs

The Book of Proverbs, it’s there, it’s “free” wisdom and it doesn’t have to be “religious”. I understand that some are turned off to organized religion. I know I have been on that track and always resort to the “things I know I know to be true” as a source of comfort in turbulent times. Proverbs is rife with those comforting truths. And I summate them with: I know God is good; I know He has a purpose and a plan; I know He is infinitely kind and merciful. I also know there is much I do not know, yet I will always keep seeking to know.

The guidance in Proverbs helps in that journey through the fog of life. We humans make much of the hashing up and defense of the details of our own limited understanding and much of organized religion is organized belief. This is a source of chaos in the modern religious experience. The book of Proverbs reinforces the wisdom that He has infused throughout the creation. It points to the nuances of daily life. It points to peace amidst chaos.  It does not have any agenda nor does it reek of an organizational manipulation or agenda. It is the companion soundtrack to our observations as we experience life.

The words in Proverbs grow in depth as we experience life. And they are maximized if we invest the time in thinking not only about the words but the extensions of the words and how the wisdom can be applied in a wide variety of situations. I recommend reading a chapter of Proverbs a day and making note as the months fly by of the outcome of reading the same words in narrow cycle. I find it interesting how some will hold different meaning depending on what I am encountering in my daily life. I find it equally interesting which ones pop up as “I’ve never noticed that one before!”, though I’ve literally read them hundreds of times. I find the cycling through the book on a monthly basis to be a valuable counter to the disquieting nature of daily life.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving, 400 years ago, was a community thanking God for His blessings: particularly of the natural consequence of private property.

The first immigrants to America experimented with communism. They each got the exact same reward – I’m sure it was based on need as assessed by the government, thank you Marx – as every other pilgrim. In reality, they had a contract with their merchant-sponsors in London. That contract stipulated that all produce went to a common account, and each member was entitled to one common share. Pure communism. It didn’t matter how much you produced, you held the same common share as anyone else.

Guess what? It didn’t work. The pilgrims nearly died. Bradford, the governor, quickly realized they weren’t going to make it, so he tried free enterprise. Now pilgrims, while still equal before the law, each family had their own plot and the right to retain all the produce from the plot. This was the explosion of productivity that allowed the pilgrims to trade with Indians and England. It sparked massive numbers of new immigrants.

That’s what the pilgrims gave thanks for – an understanding of natural law. Private property leads to productivity.

Discovery

Beautiful books share ideas, concepts, and principles in unique non-obvious ways. This past week, I had the opportunity to have an equally quality exchange during a conversation with a coworker. She had visited the Van Gogh exhibit in Colorado, and reported that she was struck by how incredibly odd Van Gogh was. Specifically she thought his self-portraits that were distorted, oddly colored, or otherwise occluded very impactful. When she mentioned that it made me think about how my self-discovery odyssey matches those paintings.

As a junior economist, I have been awed that the US fiat currency is a constant lie. It does not truthfully tell us what the value of a dollar is, and the value constantly changes. That means that a major influence in my life – economy – has completely distorted my framework for understanding. Just like Van Gogh’s distorted self-portraits, if I were to truthfully paint a picture of myself it would have to be distorted because the economy around me is distorted.

Strive to identify and eradicate lies. Whether it’s a buffoon pushing conspiracies, vaccinations, or even warping the meaning of words. These are common and prevalent lies.