Archive for December, 2004

Warrior’s Society End of the Year Message

“Tis liberty alone that gives flower of fleeting life its luster and perfume; and we are weeds without it.”

William Cowber

I have always contemplated the human condition and the liberty of free will. A liberty of force that at times can be capable of great evil and at other times great goodness. From a spiritual view point it is said that free-will is a gift from the Great Spirit, indeed a gift of God. We celebrate this season because a messiah was born and by his own free-will was willing to die to allow us closer communion with God. A sacrifice he did not have to make but did so out of his love of mankind and of his own volition.

That God gave us free will, understanding that to do otherwise would make us but empty vessels lacking in true passion or feeling; a robotic existence sterile of humanity. I do not feign the wisdom of God nor consider myself fully competent of understanding his nature – but I have often found myself compelled to understand the Providence of his decision; being made in his image, allowed a glimpse of God-like power by the grace of free-will and the lesson of the sacrifice of his son.

To be allowed free will, capable of determining our destiny; are we capable of doing so? The history of mankind is filled with the wreckage of societies and empires that have failed the test of free-will. Democracy is built upon free-will, the natural rights of man and self-determination; we can choose our destiny. In democracy will mankind find his salvation? I see no other alternative other than being under the thumb of a despot who unlike God prefers an automaton void of feeling, save fear, to do his will.

“I have no fear, but that the results of our experiment will be that men may be trusted to govern themselves without a master. Could the contrary of this be proved, I should conclude, either there is no God, or that he is a malevolent being.”

Thomas Jefferson

But what makes free-will work and by default, democracy? Is its foundation in the goodness of its citizens or the goodness of the government?

It is my assertion that the foundation of free-will and democracy is built upon the citizens of a nation. Government is capable of caring for its’ citizens, but at what point is this destructive in a sense by creating an atmosphere in which we abdicate our free-will to do good deeds or the responsibility for our lives because “the government will take care of it.”

Is it proper or wise to encourage an environment in which we increasingly abdicate responsibility to the government? That we increasingly abdicate our free-will to do good deeds, to volunteer and in a sense get a glimpse of Gods grace by exercising our free-will and at our own volition do what is right?

Will this result in the very thing God feared; that we will be nothing but empty vessels lacking in true passion or feeling save fear of loss of comfort; a robotic existence we are willing to suffer for a perceived sanctuary?

There are some that believe that our faith and salvation lies in this abdication to government to provide for our needs, to “take care of it” no matter what “it” is. That within government is the power to become as “God” and take care of our every need. But in this there lies great peril. I believe this to be a false comfort; is it smart to allow government this much power over our lives?

I admire the idealism and faith of some that believe the government can become as “God” and eliminate all pain and suffering – as well as attain their view of a perfect environment; a virtual heaven on earth. It is truly my hope that we become as “God” in that we achieve the ability to end all pain and suffering, end all wars and create this “environmental” heaven on earth; but unfortunately we do not currently possess that luxury.

As our history has shown; those that have assumed the role of “God” in leading intolerant fundamental sects – or in leading their countries; their word infallible, their desires law (Stalin, Mao and Kim of North Korea) have been the worst regimes in history.

“I never will, by word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance, or admit a right of inquiry into the religious opinions of others. On the contrary, we are bound, you, I and everyone, to make common cause, even with error itself, to maintain the common right of freedom of conscience. We ought with one heart and one hand to hew down the daring and dangerous efforts of those that would seduce the public opinion to substitute itself into…tyranny over religious faith.”

Thomas Jefferson

Can we ever achieve this “God” like status of control absent of the repression of freedom? Or have we innately realized, as manifested in the world’s religions; that heaven is not of this world?

I do not possess the foresight or wisdom to make such a prediction, but I do know that as long as we exercise our free-will and the responsibility for our lives and those we love, as long as we volunteer to make this world a better place or provide the support for others and to do so of our own free-will outside the mandate of government; we will honor this gift of grace that is free-will and in a sense get a glimpse of God; we will delight in his love.

“…enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them including honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adorning and overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter; with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and prosperous people?”

Thomas Jefferson

The lesson of this season is the blessings of free-will; love and personal sacrifice. That our creator loved us so much he was willing to sacrifice his son for our salvation; and his son did so of his own free-will consumed by his love of mankind; a love not mandated by any government but of his own volition. The lessons of free-will are not only in the realm of Christianity, but of all faiths that do not fall prey to intolerant fundamentalism in which control is made a poor substitute for faith, love and grace.

It is my hope that in 2005 you exercise your gift of free-will and volunteer to make this world a better place, that you take the time to spend with your children, friends and family and set an example for them and others to follow, that you do not rely on government to “take care of it,” but take care of it yourself.

And in the process come to understand the grace, love and sacrifice of God – mandated not by government – but of your own free- will; this precious gift of God.

May your exercise of free-will bring joy to the hearts of others – and to you the rapture of peace, joy and delight that only God by his grace can give. May he smile upon you and in his quiet voice whisper in the wind “well done my beloved.”

I wish you the all blessings of free-will and the Grace and Love of God,

Chris Vargas
AKA “Dances With Hornets

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Let’s Stop Scaring Ourselves

by Michael Critchton

In last Sunday’s Parade Magazine Michael Crichton, who graduated Cum Laude from Harvard Medical School, was a scientific researcher, a best writing author of Jurassic Park, Andromeda Strain and the creator of the T.V. show “ER” wrote a article titled “Let’s stop scaring ourselves” in which he discussed many of the past “sky is falling” predictions made by environmentalists and others. In a prior speech before the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, he likened the current environmental movement to a religion, not a science, because they have become more and more a “faith” based movement.

Here is the article:

This year I turned 62, and I find I have acquired – along with aches and pains – a perspective on the world that I lacked as a younger person. I have now recognized that for most of my life I have felt burdened by highly publicized fears that decades later did not turn out to be true.

I was reminded of this when I came across this 1972 statement about climate: ‘We simply cannot afford to gamble… We cannot risk inaction. Those scientists who [disagree] are acting irresponsibly. The indications that our climate can soon change for the worse are too strong to be reasonably ignored.’ This author wasn’t concerned about global warming. He was worried about global cooling and the coming Ice Age.

WE’RE ALL GOING TO FREEZE! OR IS IT SIZZLE?

It may be mostly forgotten now, but back then many climate scientists shared his concerns: Temperatures around the world had fallen steadily for 30 years, dropping a half a degree in the Northern Hemisphere between 1945 and 1968. Pack Ice was increasing. Glaciers were advancing. Growing seasons had shortened by two weeks in only a few years.

In 1975, Newsweek noted ‘ominous signs that weather patterns have begun to change… With serious political implications for just about every nation.’ Scientists were predicting that ‘the resulting famines could be a catastrophic.’

But now it is clear that even as Newsweek was printing its fears, temperatures already had begun to rise. Within a decade, scientists would be decrying a global warming trend that threatened to raise temperatures as much as 30 degrees in the 21st century. Such predictions implied palm trees in Montana, and they have since been revised downward. By 1995, the UN midrange estimates were about 4 degrees over the next 100 years. Although concern about warming remains, the prospect of catastrophic change seems increasingly unlikely.”

OH NO, IT’S A POPULATION EXPLOSION!

Similarly, for all my adult life, informed people have lived in continual anxiety about an exploding world population and the inevitable resulting mass starvation and environmental degradation.

In the 1960’s, experts like Paul Ehrlich spoke with conviction: “In the 1970’s the world will undergo famines – hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death.” Ehrlich argued for compulsory population control if voluntary methods fail. In the 1970’s, the Club of Rome (a global think tank) predicted a world population of 14 billion in the year 2030, with no end in sight.

Instead, fertility rates fell steadily. By the end of the century, they were about half what they were in 1950, with the result that many now expect world population to peak at 9 billion or so and then to decline. (It’s estimated to be about 6 billion today.)

And mass starvation never occurred either. Instead, per capita food production increased through the end of the century because of the “green revolution” resulting from increased agricultural efficiency and better seeds. Grain production increased as much as 600% per acre, bringing unprecedented crop yields around the world.

These changes were exemplified by the rise of India, which in the 1960’s was widely acknowledged to be a symbol of the overpopulation disaster. Western children were chided to finish their food because of the starving children in India. By 2000, however, India had become a net exporter of grain, and Americans were worried about outsourced jobs to that nation’s highly educated workforce. Almost no one concerned about population spoke of and explosion anymore. Instead, they discussed the new problems: and aging population and a declining population.

WE’RE RUNNING OUT OF EVERYTHING!

The 1970’s saw the use of computers to predict future world trends. In 1972, The Club of Rome used its computers to warn us that raw materials were fast running out. By 1993 we would have exhausted our supplies of gold, mercury, tin, zinc, oil, copper, lead and natural gas. Yet 1993 came and went. We still have all those things, at prices that fluctuate but over the long term have generally declined.

What seems to be more accurate is that there is a perennial market of dire predictions of resource depletion. Human beings never tire of discussing the latest report that tells us the end is near. But, at some point, we might start regarding each breathless new claim with skepticism. I have learned to do so.

THE MACHINES ARE TAKING OVER!

Any catalog of false fears and counterfeit crises must include examples of the ever-present threat posed by technology. Nobody of my generation will ever forget the looming crisis of too much leisure time, and issue much discussed in the 1960’s. Since machines would soon be doing all our work, we need to learn watercolor painting and macramé to pass the time. Yet, by the end of the century, Americans were regarded as overworked, overstressed and sleepless. The crisis of leisure time had gone the way of the paperless office.

More sinister were the health threats posed by technology, such as the fears about cancer from power lines. The great power-line scare lasted more than a decade and, according to one expert, cost the nation 25 billion before many studies determined it to be false.

Ironically, 10 years later, the same magnetic fields that were formally feared as carcinogenic now were welcomed as healthful. People attached magnets (the best ones were imported from Japan) to their legs and backs, or put magnetic pads on their mattresses, in order to experience the benefits of the same magnetic fields they had previously avoided. Magnet therapy even became a new treatment for depression.

BE VERY AFRAID!

Along with all the big fears have been dozens of lesser ones: saccharin, swine flu, cyclamates, endocrine disrupters, deodorants, electric razors, fluorescent lights, computer terminals, road rage, killer bees – the list goes on and on.

In this tradition, the association of cell phones and brain cancer had emerged as a contemporary concern, flourishing despite a lack of conclusive evidence of any direct link. I was drawn to on British study which suggested that cellular radiation actually improved brain function, but it got little publicity. And, of course, the best-documented hazard from cell phones – their use when driving – is largely ignored. (Handheld cell phones are only marginally more dangerous than speaker phones. The real danger comes from using a cell phone at all while driving.)

Fittingly, the century ended with one final, magnificent false fear: Y2K. For years, computer experts predicted a smorgasbord of horrors, ranging from the collapse of the stock market to the crash of airplanes. Some people withdrew their savings, sold their houses and moved to higher ground. In the end, nobody seemed to notice much of anything at all.

“I’ve seen a heap of trouble in my life, and most of it never came to pass,” Mark Twain is supposed to have said. At this point in my life, I can only agree. So many fears have turned out to be untrue or wildly exaggerated and I no longer get so excited about the latest one. Keeping fears in perspective leads me to ignore most of the frightening things I read and hear – or at least to take them with a pillar of salt.

For a time I wondered how it would feel to be without these fears and the frantic nagging concerns at the back of my mind. Actually, it feels just fine.

I recommend it.

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