Dec 172008
 

I was listening to the December 12th podcast of my favorite talk show, Free Talk Live, and they interviewed Arsenio Rodriguez, Secretary General of the Alliance for a New Humanity, about Deepak Chopra’s new website ITakeTheVow.com (not to be confused with TakeTheVow.com which is a wedding site).  You can listen to the interview yourself through this MP3.

Here’s what Deepak Chopra had to say about the vow-

First, close your eyes and put your awareness in your heart. You can easily focus on someone you love, and feel that love building in your heart, when you feel full of love, ask your self honestly and seriously if you are willing to commit to a vow of nonviolence, in your speech, your thoughts and your actions.

A vow is a sacred commitment from which there is no going back.  It is like a child that is born, who cannot return to the womb.??By committing to the vow, you also agree to have at least two people in their  lives take the vow.

Are you seriously committed to bringing about a world of peace, harmony, laughter and love by taking this vow and getting two people to join you?

If you are ready, please click below to enter your email to be counted as a part of our first 100 million people.

This was a no-brainer for me.  I took a personal vow of nonviolence about 20 years ago after seeing how my violence was damaging not only the world in which I live, but my personal life as well.  The interview, though, is quite interesting with both Ian and Mark doing their best to convert the vow into support for the non-aggression principle and assuring themselves that they may still commit retaliatory violence when they feel it is necessary.

Personally, I’m still not completely comfortable with the idea of “defensive violence”, though I have been moving more in that direction over the past few years.  But Mr. Rodriguez was quick to assure them that violence in the protection of one’s self, one’s property or others was perfectly acceptable.  I did get the feeling that he was just trying to open the door to as many signers as possible, just as Mark has continually lowered the meaning of the Free State Project’s pledge in order to try and reach that numerical goal.

You see, the point of the I Take The Vow website is “to create a global movement, which would mobilize 100 million people to make the same commitment.”  In the few weeks the site has existed just over 5,600 people have signed on (I was number 5,606), so they definitely got off to a good start, but I’ll be shocked if they come anywhere near 100 million.  Deepak Chopra may mean well, but he’s way too ‘new agey’ for the vast majority of people I’ve met in my lifetime.  Still, I don’t think the vow’s a bad idea at all.  Anything to get people to thinking about just how much violence they commit and sanction on a daily basis is a step in the right direction.  So, swing by ITakeTheVow.com today and decide for yourself if you’re interested in making the world a better and more peaceful place.

Dec 122007
 

From the time I was around 8 or 9 until my senior year of high school I knew I wanted to join the Navy when I became an adult. You see, my father was in the Navy and I seldom saw him, so I idolized him. In fact, I even made the choice to go to a military high school as a direct result of my devotion to the armed forces. It was only there, in my senior year, that I truly accepted the fact that I couldn’t work for an organization whose primary purpose was wholesale slaughter. It was also there that I was not only inundated with pro-gun propaganda, but was trained and allowed to shoot everything from a .22 pistol all the way up to an M-16 rifle. I even had the opportunity to drive an M1A1 battle tank and fire off its guns while at Camp Pendleton Marine base just south of my school. There’s only one thing that can arouse the interest of a teenage boy at an all-male military academy more than controlling that type of destructive force, but that wasn’t available to me at the time, so I stuck with my actual weapons. I even went so far as to secretly purchase a Delta Elite 10mmm pistol, informing the school that it was a gift from my absent father so that I’d be allowed to fire it on the range.

It was on the streets, however, not the range or the base, that showed me the true power of a gun. It not only has the power to maim and kill, but also to utterly destroy the lives of everyone around it. But that’s a sociological discussion for another day. Suffice it to say, I quickly became vehemently anti-gun. I didn’t want anything to do with them, nor did I want to associate with anyone who chose to participate in America’s “gun culture”. The former opinion has held solid for 20 years, though the latter has given way to a more rational determination to choose my associates based on their individual levels of responsibility rather than their choice of personal defense.

My vow of nonviolence has always been a personal one, though. I firmly believe that all violence is immoral, unethical, and counterproductive to creating a peaceful society. Violence only breeds more violence (cliché, but true). However, my belief that society as a whole needs to remain armed if it is going to remain (or rather become) free has never wavered either. This belief is supported not only by the placement of the right to bear arms as the second amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but also by the fact that it’s echoed in 44 of the 50 state Constitutions as well. Personally this belief is founded in my realistic view of the world around me. Just as I preach the benefits of anarchy while opposing an overnight dismantling of government, I recognize that disarming one side of any conflict is tantamount to condemning it to failure as long as the opposing side is willing and able to use violence to meet its goals.

All of this history and philosophical rambling brings us, finally, to my point. Yesterday I stumbled across a post at Joe’s Crabby Shack purporting to be a first hand account of the December 5th shootings at the Westroads Mall in Omaha, NE. I have no specific reason to doubt the veracity of the witness, but the post comes without any corroboration either, so it must be taken with a grain of salt. The most poignant portions of this report deal directly with my point here today-

Honestly, and as God as my witness, when I saw him shooting and as watched for a few seconds trying to figure out what he was going to do and what I should do, the thought that when through my mind was, “If I had a gun, I have a perfect shot.”

Yes, a perfect shot. I had a full side profile, I was close, and no one was visible behind him execept a wall. I had a clear shot during the second round of fire. I told this to every cop I came in contact with. The interviewer agreed.

When I realized that I had no gun, fear instantly struck me, along with anger, and severe panic.

[…]

I do not have a Concealed Handgun Permit. I have completed the training class, but I keep putting off applying for the permit because I think it is useless. In the places I would need a gun most, I am not allowed to have it. I will not be a person living in fear and not go to Van Maur because they don’t allow guns.

My point that Open Carry needs to be easier in Omaha, and places like Westroads need to take down their “no guns” signs.

If I had my gun deeply concealed, I wouldn’t have been able to draw it very fast. However, If I had open carried, I could of drawn instantly.

Either way though, I could have drawn and taken a clean shot. However, in both cases, regardless of the laws, I am not allowed to carry a gun at all in Westroads Mall. If the laws did not oppress my rights, I would carry a gun most places (except work). I would certainly have had it in the mall as mall shootings have been on my mind since the incident at a mall involving a shotgun back in February.

Is it any wonder you’ve never heard about a “mad gunman” attacking a police station or a gun show? Columbine High School? Gun Free Zone. Tacoma Mall in Washington? Gun Free Zone. Virginia Tech? Gun Free Zone. Trolley Square Mall in Utah? Gun Free Zone. Ward Parkway Center in Kansas City? Gun Free Zone. Westroads Mall? Gun Free Zone. I’m not going to list the numerous occasions in which sane gunmen have put an end to these mass shootings because Classically Liberal did an excellent job of that back in April. I, personally, am anti-gun. But, there is no way for you to know that when we pass each other on the street. However, any “Gun Free Zone” is simply an open invitation to random gun violence. Until we can somehow simultaneously evaporate all firearms worldwide, total gun freedom is the only defense against the angry, attention seeking and suicidal looking to “make a splash” or “seek vengeance” on their way out of this world.

Oct 122007
 

According to a Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of “American voters”, 27% of them believe the U.S. government should torture prisoners. Amazingly, only 53% believe the government should not torture prisoners. I didn’t think I could be shocked by the callous nature of Americans any more, but this sure did the trick. That means that if you gather any 4 folks in a room, odds are that one of them believes in torturing other human beings. Take a look around your office or school. If a quarter of these people believe in torture how safe do you feel?

Jul 252007
 

Hell’s Handmaiden recently posted on the topic of War As Altruism

The more I think about it, the less the idea makes sense. The machinery of war is the machinery of destruction. Soldiers are a body of individuals trained for destruction. The concept is one of violence. War is meant [to] force one group of people to bend to another group’s will. It seems difficult to justify the use of such a tool as ‘altruistic’.

Very well said. Unfortunately, while the article continues to argue that war can never truly be an altruistic act, the author also fails to reach the ultimate conclusion that war is always a negative thing. Instead, in his closing paragraph he falls prey to that final wall separating a truly peaceful man from one still on the journey to genuine freedom-

Before someone suggests otherwise, I am not opposed to taking sides. I wish we’d taken sides in Rwanda. I’m glad we took sides in WWII against Germany, but had we not taken sides when we did we’d have likely been forced to take sides later out of pure selfish self-defense.

I am not opposed to taking sides, either. But I am no longer limited by the traditional belief system that “choosing sides” must mean going to war. The military is a powerful destructive force, but it is still one of violent destruction, as pointed out so eloquently above. Instead of accepting the false reality that violence will ultimately be the final solution we must strive to use nonviolent means of coercion, be they social, economic, educational, or some as yet untried system.

Ultimately, war is the real enemy.