The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Random thoughts of a philosophical nature

I was perusing quotes about history and came across this:

The first duty of a man is to think for himself.”
― José Martí

A rather interesting sentiment and one with which I agree. I have mostly tried to live up to that sentiment but realize I haven't always done so. Yes, like just about everyone, I have followed fads and trends. That Madras shirt I once owned around age 15, other grooming choices in my mid-teens (like that D.A. hair style), and engaging in petty theft and shoplifting, for examples. But I did not always try to emulate my peers. My atheism, for example, emerged around age 12 while most of my peers simply followed the beliefs of their parents.

I tried to follow the wisdom my mother imparted from time to time:

"If everybody jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?"

There came times when when I realized that following the crowd wasn't the smart thing to do. But I would fall back into following the crowd again often enough.

I see a lot of "crowd following" today in politics and social "norms." It's understandable. We like to be "hip" or "cool" or whatever is today's term. We are influenced heavily by our social idols; the celebrities. Yet, few of these celebrities are truly trend-setters. Most just extend a trend or typify it.

I engage in discussions online. I like to call them "comment wars" though they aren't really wars, just arguments. I am a contrarian in that I often find myself in the minority on issues. I relish that position. Deep down I think I hope to stir others into questioning their own thought patterns, their own beliefs, and maybe changing them. I am probably just fooling myself. It's difficult to overcome the social programming we are exposed to from our earliest years. Society tries to mold us into compliant citizens, does it not?

I fancy myself a philosopher of sorts. If I was serious about that, I would study the great philosophers of history but I don't and likely won't ever do that. I am afraid I would simply conform to one school or another and "extend the trend" rather than break new ground or provide a fresh insight.

I think about my personal philosophies on social and political issues and wonder if I am really using independent thought or merely following well-worn paths. A friend in the Navy once offered that I was a follower of Ayn Rand. I had not read any of her books at that point and knew nothing about her philosophy so, if I was seeming to be in her camp, it was independent thought that had brought me there.

There is much division today in the U.S. with the two major socio-political ideologies becoming more strident in their opposition. There are schisms within the major parties which are growing stronger and more pronounced. Sometimes I feel we are moving willy-nilly toward another civil war. Other times I think we are always at some stage of civil war; that this is the essence of what America is. Put another way, our nation was born in revolution and this revolution never ended, just ebbed and flowed throughout our history. Maybe all of civilization does this.

I really am lost in thought, I think.


Tom Sightings said...

I've been watching Ken Burns "Civil War" and I can tell you, there's a lot less division today than there was 150 years ago. I also believe the media hypes up the divisions and social differences, basically to boost ratings (following the old precept that if you want to draw a crowd, start an argument), and that in real life people are much more reasonable, even if they do disagree on some issues.

I recall a poll taken, oh, a year or so ago, asking who agreed with Occupy Wall Street, and who agreed with the Tea Party. The numbers were something like, 32% agreeing with the Occupy crowd, and 26% agreeing with the Tea Party. And so if I do my math right, that leaves about 42% -- or the clear plurality -- somewhere in the middle.

Douglas said...

You should Google for "poll tea party ows" and see what you get... it's so confusing.

Look at the decades leading up to the secessions and the Civil War. Look at the compromises and verbal battles in Congress and elsewhere.