Monday, November 16, 2015

My deepest empathy to the people of France and the world

As is widely reported in the news and on social media, the citizens of Paris were attacked by what all are calling “Islamic terrorists” and up to 128 lives have been taken as of this writing.  
This post is to express my empathy for the families of those killed, the people of Paris and all of France.  It is also to make the reader aware of the many other similar events that have been executed before and since the events in Paris that also deserve our collective empathy.  We have all become dulled by the death and carnage that happens all over the world.  The events no longer touch us like the attacks in Paris.  But, common people, on the ground, in all parts of the world just want to live in peace so they can get on with their lives.  If the attacks in Paris are to have an outcome with any value, perhaps it is to make us aware that similar events are happening all over the world.    

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Rights and the outcomes when exercised

A right is any action an individual can take. In the wild, an individual has the complete freedom to take any action he pleases.  He can move, speak, throw a stone, burn down the forest, kill deer for dinner, or anything else that can be imagined.

While there are no restraints to an action an individual can take in the wild, there are consequences to each and every action.  The individual can speak all day long and it is doubtful anything will happen to him.  Unless of course, he either scares the animals away he is trying to kill for food or attracts a lion that is looking for dinner.  With this restraint, of course, he could just speak at certain times.      

But, there are other actions that could place him in direct harm.  If he decides to burn down the forest, it has the possibility of destroying the habitat that provides him with shelter and firewood.  If he doesn’t act responsibly and pollutes the water he needs to drink, he will become ill or die.  If he decides he doesn’t want to eat deer meat because of a religious belief; a decision to not act, which is still an act; he could starve to death.

These are rudimentary examples of the actions an individual can take in nature and some of the consequences that may follow.  But, they make clear a couple of things.  First, of all the actions an individual can perform, some have greater negative consequences than others.  Some have outcomes with little impact on the individual’s life.  In fact, some may actually help him learn and deal with the difficulties of life.  Talking to himself after something goes wrong may help the individual learn from the experience.  Others have a much greater impact on the individual’s life and the world around him.  The actions may cause him great harm or even kill him.

When all rights are valued the same, the possible outcomes of the exercise of those rights are not being considered.  Rights need to be ranked according to the possible outcomes, positive or negative.  In the wild, the individual can still act anyway he pleases, but the individual must consider if some acts will be to his benefit or detriment.  Those that are to the individual’s benefit, he may want to do as often as possible.  Those that are to his detriment, he may want to exercise self-restraint.

Second, there isn’t a clear division between rights with good and bad outcomes.  There is an inequity scale of rights.  Even those that have a greater possibility of good can have negative consequences.  When the individual considers the costs and benefits of an action, it may be clear that the chance for a positive outcome is so great, that the risk of a bad outcome is well worth taking the action.  Other actions may have just the opposite conclusions.  It may be that the risk of a bad outcome is so much greater than any benefit derived, the individual may decide not to take the action.  In most situations the line between good and bad outcomes is not a clear dark line but a gradation from good to bad, or a scale of inequity.

In the wild, or in an environment without a community agreement (social contract) the individual does have complete freedom to exercise any right he wishes.  The natural restraint he has is the negative outcomes that will impact him and his environment.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The problems I see with many political leaders, writers and others is that they don't define their terms.  When ever they say someone has the right to do something, we should all ask what do they define as a right?  When people are prevented from doing something else, we should be asking why?  Only then can their ideas be tested and challenged to evaluate the benefit they provide.      

To that end, the following is a list of terms that I will use in the blog.  I will be faithful to the terms as long as they stand up to the challenge of their application to the real world.  When they fail, I will make adjustments in the definition.  When they are correct, the definition will be expanded and strengthen.

An individual is a living, breathing human being. 
A community is a particular geographic area where individuals have an agreement guiding their actions.    

Responsibilities are all actions that are required by the community.

To live in a community as a free individual, some rights are subordinated to the community in exchange for the benefit of living in the community.     

If that isn’t geeky enough, I can get even more definitive.  I realize it is a simplistic and roughly written draft for the basic concept of the fundamental purpose of the blog and the philosophy of the Responsible Community.  Its refinement will come as the blog develops through the examination of the events and issues of the political environment. 

But, for right now this will do.
Hello, world.  I am back.

After a much longer hiatus than expected, I have decided to write again.

It is in my nature to explain in detail.  But, as many tell me often, just get to the point.

So, the point is, I am back.