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Respect As A Core Principle: Where We Are

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We have a viable candidate in the Democratic Primary. No, it's not Hillary Clinton. If you think I'm joking, look how the Clintons treat their friends here. As a Democratic institution, the Clintons are toast. Their time has come and gone in a big way.

Perhaps the most painful part of the "Clinton Experience" for me has been how wrong I was and how right many of my right wing friends were about the Clintons.

One day at a time, we awaken to a choice to believe in the core principles that make our personal histories appear sensible in our own "rearview mirrors", or we continue to confuse ourselves with the distractions and misinterpretations of others. As Soren Kierkegaard once mused, "life is understood upon reflection, but must be lived looking forward." Or words to that effect.

The Clintons, then as now, continue to confuse issues and obfuscate, or minimize, important facts. Not unlike their friends in the neo-conservative wing of the rising proto-fascist party.  Their ultimate impact is the confusion of history.  Without a sensible history to reflect on, time-honored principles of behavior appear dubious and their effects ambiguous.

Some of you might think that I might reference some set of time-honored spiritual principles that involve the interference of a third party placed between ourselves and our Creator – whomever that may one day be revealed to be. No, that is not my intention. 

If you worship under the flag of Catholicism, you worship an institution that continues to lie to its laiety about articles of its history and about the very foundations of its faith. It has become the quintessential model of organized mind control and bureaucratic indifference on a scale that boggles the imagination.

How anyone can obtain continued spiritual sustenance from such a wretch is beyond me, but you do need to know that it is possible. A "freedom-loving" Creator allows for such things. I come from such stock.

If you worship under the flag of rebellion against Catholicism, you believe in the possibility that an unchanged heart is capable of creating unlike itself. Such is not the case, I assure you, so at best you are six inches closer on a journey of one thousand miles, and, at worst, you are miles behind where you intended to go in the first place. Even so, a person of the courage and integrity of Professor Steven Jones hails from such stock, revealing the possibility, again, of a loving Creator capable of reaching inside our most innocent, or fetid, religious organizations and wringing out important matters of truth and understanding.

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If you worship under a flag from the East, you worship unlike the other two spiritual traditions in form only. Regardless of how self-indulgent or self-expanding your meditations become the basic problem of obtaining contact with a power greater than one's self and then being unable to effectively and accurately communicate that relationship with one's fellows remains. Ten pounds of the best fertilizer known to man trapped inside of a five pound bag.

If you worship beneath the flag which denies all flags you will become obsessed with the existence of flags so that you can then deny they exist. Perfect self contradiction and a precise reflection of the form of all other flags, combined. Atheism, as it turns out, is a religion, too, and capable of the same hypocrisies, hubris and internecine behaviors evident in any organized religion. As Bob Dylan once wrote, "you gotta serve somebody."

What then, gentle reader, represents a core principle that we can all come together under, regardless of our chosen flag, that our collective history continues to remain sensible and useful to our species?

Irony of ironies, the flag we all can comfortably rest beneath is the flag that has no flag at all. The justice for all is that it is, "just us." At our core, we do not know what is the right thing to do in any abstract, specific circumstance, not even for ourselves. We have our commandments, we have our rules; yet, in the heat of any particular moment, the good of any outcome, at times, seems to become the enemy of the best the more we cling to our man-made models of reality. At best, even our most cut and dried, tried and true principles of human behavior are no more than guidelines.

Now guidelines are important tools to have inculcated in one's character, but only if those guidelines are accompanied with a thorough, rational understanding of how and why they work.  Education for all in the area of ethics and principles would be an essential part of promoting respect between persons.

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Respect authority, but always question it. When it refuses to answer our questions respectfully, it ceases to represent any authority whatsoever.  Authority that can not tolerate inspection and review does not, in the end, support viable respect between persons.

Some believe that the positive valuation of life in any form is a principle, rather than a guideline.  It is always a good guideline to positively value life in any form. But the devil of this guideline as a principle lies in its details which can, and do, vary from specific circumstance to specific circumstance. Does this mean we can not absolutely value life in any form? Of course it does. No one wants to see one's fellows thrown into starvation and homelessness to save a future for the Horned Toad or the Spotted Owl. Does this mean that we can not absolutely value human life in any form? True 'dat. I'm thinking here of John William King's murder of James Byrd, Jr. in Jasper, Texas and how I might have responded had I come upon the incident as a law enforcement officer and first responder. But does any of this mean that we can not positively value each other and choose to respect each other's right to our own individual paths toward truth, provided that we do not interfere with, deride, or discount these other paths? Absolutely. Our respect for each other, in fact, must be absolute.

Absolute respect for one another, then, is a core principle.

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Award winning poet, writer and refugee from the educational testing industry. Richard agitates, supports and motivates activists of all kinds, the most well-known being Cindy Sheehan. Web developer and designer by day, writer by night, Richard has (more...)

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