What’s Really Important?

We tend to focus on all the wrong things during our lifetimes.  We think a lot about ourselves and how to make our lives better.  We are very selfish, but we have occasional love interests that interrupt our fascination with ourselves.  But typically we discover that the love interest primarily existed to satisfy our personal sexual needs.

I stopped having sex when I was 47 years old.  I will be 70 in a few months.  It wasn’t based on any religious epiphany or desire to prove myself worthy of anything.  It was a simple decision not to have sex anymore.  I decided that sex was not important, so I stopped cold turkey.  I am fascinated with all the emphasis on types of sex available today.  Society may claim that it has significant freedom to have sex with anybody or anyway desired, but I would argue that society is enslaved by this sexual free-for-all.  It is an addiction no different than alcohol or drugs.  I’m not campaigning for everybody to follow my lead and become abstinent;  however, I feel extremely comfortable with my decision.  You must make your own decision using your free will and conscience.  A moderate sex life may be a great choice for you.  It just wasn’t my choice.

I guess what I am saying is that having sex is just not that important and deciding to not have sex is really not important either.  So, what is important?  The critical thing is that you must maintain your freedom to make decisions.  You must accept the consequences for all your bad choices.  That is very important.  And you must make the decisions… not your family or peers, but you.  You must decide what is important during your life and how this may impact what happens after you die.

I believe that life is really not important, but the afterlife is the most important thing.  So, I believe how we live our lives, which probably contributes greatly to our afterlife, is very important.  And it is the things that I do during the rest of my life that should be more important than the things that I did or didn’t do earlier in life.  Thus, it is not my past twenty plus years of abstinence, but it is my future acts of kindness to others without seeking or expecting something in return.

The best gauge for judging your future acts is to examine your motives.  Would you have done these acts if nobody knew that you did them?  It is like the judge who asked the accused:  “Would you have returned the money if everybody still thought you took it and nobody would ever have known you returned it?”  Unfortunately, most people would have to honestly say they would not.  However, your actions should not feed your ego, but should instead, build your identification of who you are.  And you should be like Jesus.  Of course, this is an impossible task, but you should strive to come as close to the mark as humanly possible.

Negligence is failing to do that which a reasonable man would have done or would have avoided under the same or similar circumstances.  We can substitute sin for negligence and find that 100% of us, including me, have committed hundreds, perhaps thousands of sins.  With this heavy weight on us for bad acts committed during our lives, how can we ever get past that to what is really important?  Well, you have to start with the fact that you are going to start today asking what Jesus would have done and then attempting to modify your behaviors so that you will become a better person.  This is what is really important in life and also in the afterlife.

So, what do you think is really important?  Is it prestige, power, intelligence, money, sex-drugs-rock’nroll, possessions?  Most likely these items do not follow you into the afterlife.  I honestly don’t know what awaits us at death’s door, but I would rather have my good acts to carry with me.  That may be what is most important.

Dream of Hell

Interestingly enough, some of my dreams are hazy and fragmented, but others are quite vivid and appear to be very real.  One of those that seemed like I was actually living it, including feeling pain with all of my senses intact, was a vision of hell itself.

I lived in a compound with thousands of others, who all wore the same drab, gray outfits.  Men and women looked alike, as there was no distinction made through cosmetics or clothing.  There were no children, at least, in our compound.  We all had rules to follow, and we were all punished equally for failure to comply or failure to submit.

It took me a while to familiarize myself with my surroundings.  The structure had three elevations with the basement containing the exercise area, two dining facilities, and public showers and restrooms.  There was no privacy.  The sleeping arrangements were similar to prisons with cells with bunk beds.  I slept in the upper bunk bed, while my roommate, who did not introduce himself, covered his head with a scratchy, brown blanket in the lower berth.  His loud snoring kept me up most of the night.

The meals were bland and tasteless.  I had hoped that if we still had to go to the bathroom in hell, we would receive decent food, but that was not the case.  People moved around in lines for meals, restroom visits, and recreation.  There was no room for individualism anywhere in the compound.  Freedom was defined as being allowed to exist.

All control was totalitarian.  Stoic guards who never talked were everywhere.  I suspected that they were robots.  Some of the older prisoners were called “trustees” and they made certain that you understood the rules and requirements to submit to whatever was asked of you.

I watched one prisoner attempt a breakout that ended in failure.  The gentleman zipped out of line and ran for a door, only to find it locked.  He bumped off guards like he was in a pin-ball machine.  The guards had expandable, black batons that thumped him into submission.  They carried him back to his cell where he died.

At that point, I wondered if dying in hell would be better than living in hell.  Hopefully, this poor soul was in a better place.  But fear of the unknown is sometimes worse than fear of the known.  His body was dumped into a well, but it seemed like a three-minute fall before I heard it hit the water.  Nobody seemed fazed by this activity as they continued to shuffle off to their next destination.

The trustees were constantly attempting to get the prisoners to do bad things… either convincing them to hurt somebody else or allowing the trustees to have sex with them.  The idea was to get everybody to submit, one way or the other, to evil within the compound.  You couldn’t get away from the incessant torment.  If you failed to submit, you were punished in a separate area of the compound, which had various instruments of torture.  The pain seemed very real.

Thank God, I woke up during my torture.  However, my body ached for the remainder of the day just as if I had actually been beaten.  The dream seemed too real to dismiss it lightly.  I wondered what would have happened if I had submitted to the demands of evil.  I was certain that I would be tested again and again and again… a hellish world without end, amen.

Part of hell is feeling like there is no advantage to resisting.  You want to just give in and face the consequences, which may be less painful than the torture you will receive for sticking to your moral code.  However, remember that morality is choosing to do the right thing when doing the wrong thing is easier.  Holding to your moral values is not for wimps.

Christian Existentialism

Existentialism generally is a philosophy associated with atheism.  The majority of existentialists are atheists because the basic tenets of their belief do not comport with a God who is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and in charge of everything.

How can a stellar existentialist, who is steadfast in his independence, tolerate a controlling God?  How can an existentialist believe that he is making choices if everything is predestined by God?  How can a good existentialist believe that life is absurd and without meaning if there is a God?

Well, these are excellent questions, but there are logical answers for Christian existentialists like Soren Kierkegaard: (1) God gives us free choice and does not interfere with our decisions; (2) God created our universe outside our universe, since matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed in our closed universe;  in other words, God created, but does not control our universe; (3) nothing is predetermined in our lives since we make choices and suffer the consequences;  (4) and life is absurd without God.

So, it is possible to be a Christian existentialist.  You will not have many friends or associates who agree with you, but you can always unite and communicate with the most important entity, God.  Becoming one with God should be your primary goal in life.

The first step in being a true Christian existentialist is to reject other Christians who are not authentic.  Unfortunately, this is a high percentage of modern Christians.  Most Christians go to church for social approval and cannot discuss theology or even basic concepts supporting what they really believe.  In fact, most of them don’t believe in anything other than making appearances and looking good in the community.  Their beliefs and faith in God are only skin deep.

How do you become an authentic Christian existentialist?  Well, it will be a bit controversial, but you need to reject family, peer, and social pressures to think and act a certain way.  Then you can start meditating or focusing on what you really believe.  Let God into your heart and make Him a part of this process.  Become one with God.  Seek harmony with your freedom to make choices and be prepared to accept the consequences from poor decisions.  If God is within you, you will find peace in this process.

God will remove the anxiety and existential angst in your decision making because He will lead you.  Even though you cannot see God and even though He is not inside our visible universe, He can enter your soul as the Holy Spirit and become unified with you.  Your conscience and awareness is heightened with Him inside you.  Your choices may not be perfect, but your attempts to improve your decisions with humility will be all that matters if you fully accept responsibility as one who is imperfect.

And remember: life truly is absurd and makes no sense without God.

Free Willy

In 1993, “Free Willy” erupted on the movie scene.  It was a story about a young boy who befriended a killer whale, who was going to be killed by the aquarium owners.  The boy risked everything in order to set the whale free.

Free will is something that we all have.  We sometimes take it for granted.  Many times, we misuse our free will.  Sometimes, we even forget we have free will and we just march along behind the crowd without giving any thought to our reasoning behind the choices we make.  So, it is time that we risked everything and freed our will.

It is only when we recognize and fully appreciate our choices in life that we are truly free.  The majority of people get stuck in a rut of everyday work and everyday home life.  They become robotic in their movements and thinking, if you want to call it thinking.  A better phrase is “mind numbing.”

In the big cities, most people just follow the crowd into the subway going to work, walking along the busy sidewalks, pouring into crowded elevators, and sitting down at an office chair in a cubicle with harsh lights overhead.  In smaller cities, most people grab a cup of coffee, drive the same streets to work, park the car in the same spot, and greet the same people the same way in what may be termed a “Groundhog Day.”  Do any of these people appreciate their choices in life?

Even when the light bulb comes on and we make conscious decisions, what is good and what is bad?  Ethical enlightenment shines brightly on free will, but we still will make decisions that may be considered as bad by society or by laws or by family and friends, or even by us.  If you are simply following guidance from others, including parents, peers, or society, you are not making personal choices.

Although this statement may be controversial, I believe that we must commit sins and sink to a depressed state as part of the process of attaining freedom.  Certainly, being trapped in a lifestyle of evil and regret or even being trapped in society’s drudgery and daily grind is like being a slave to sin.  Freedom is a personal decision to stop making bad choices.  In order to do this, we must think outside the box without even touching the box.  Your thinking must belong to you and you alone.  Your decisions must belong to you and you alone.

Since I have never met anybody who hasn’t sinned, everybody has made poor decisions.  The first step is to admit that you have a problem.  Leave your excuses in the box that you are not touching any more.  Now that you are outside the box, face your frailties and weaknesses with a stern self-discipline that will not give in to temptations.  It is the awareness of sin and the appreciation of your control and power to make good choices that leads to exercised free will.  It is when you free your will.

We make decisions based on many things:  peer pressure, society, laws, family, how we were raised, our experiences, our personal desires and needs, and our personal moral fabric.  Many professionals argue that we make decisions based on genetics, while others maintain that we make our choices based on our experiences.  Nature vs. nurture.  As a practical matter, it doesn’t matter.  It is probably a little of both, but the bottom line is not nature or nurture.  The bottom line is you choosing what you want to do and then doing it.

Now, the tougher question is:  What is good and what is bad?  And who makes this call?  Well, I believe the answer is that you do.  Your peers, family, and society can go to hell.  It is your call based on what you think is right and wrong.  Now, it may be true that some people are so mentally disturbed that they truly don’t know the difference between right and wrong, but you do know the difference.  So, you should be held accountable for your selections.

What do I mean held accountable?  Do I mean by police and society?  Well, in some cases that is true, but I am talking primarily about how you think about yourself and your decisions when you look in the mirror at the end of the day.  And not all people will react the same way.  Some criminals have hardened their hearts to making bad choices.  But, they too will be held accountable some day.  But held accountable by whom?

Well, society and its laws may provide consequences if they are ever caught.  But I am talking about significant punishment after death.  How do I know there will be consequences?  Well, I don’t, but I do know that there must be a reason why we are the only animal on the planet with free will.  It would be absurd if we were provided free will and there were no consequences.

We have little control over the objective world, but we can make good decisions in the subjective world.  The journey to understand our inner self is very important because that may be all we take with us if we are still thinking after death.  Your free will may be put to the ultimate test in the afterlife.

For example, what would you do if you were offered a pain-free afterlife if you participated in torturing other souls?  You might even justify this based on your belief that the other souls committed worse sins than you did.  But if your conscience allowed you to do that, you might find yourself in Hell.  In order to travel through the afterworld, you will have to unify your self-discipline and thinking with the Creator.

Even if you die and that is the end (in other words, you are not thinking), making good choices will improve your life and the lives of others in the world.  It is a good thing no matter what, so there is no downside to making good decisions.

Kierkegaard Got It Right

Soren Kierkegaard, sometimes called “the Father of Existentialism,” was a philosopher who attempted to appeal to both secular and religious readers.  Kierkegaard was the only philosopher who got it right.

Born on May 5, 1813, in Copenhagen, Denmark, Kierkegaard was never politically correct.  He typically was not sensitive to others.  He was not liked by Scandinavians or, for that matter, by anybody else.  He believed in God, but Catholics, Protestants, and other believers turned against him.  He was an existentialist, but other existentialist philosophers spurned his writings.  Yet, Kierkegaard got it right.

It is like the story of a judge who made a ruling that neither the plaintiff nor the defendant liked.  The judge smiled and said, “Well, since nobody likes my ruling, that means I made the right decision.”

Kierkegaard champions our individual freedom in making choices over the religious or secular establishment’s restrictions on your decisions.  Your unification with God will not be assisted by a priest or minister or policeman or government employee.  It will be a one-on-one meeting of the minds.  You will become one with God only within yourself.

Your attendance at church and your giving to the church will carry no value into the afterlife.  You will carry nothing on this journey of death except what is within you.  And according to Kierkegaard, God must be your guide on this road, otherwise you will be lost.

Kierkegaard had two primary steps.  First, know yourself.  If you know yourself, you will be a strong individual who can resist the temptations of life.  Second, know God.  Only God has experienced everything and can assist you through the chaos of the afterlife.

It is important to know yourself inwardly and subjectively.  Know your weaknesses.  Pride must become humility.  Be independent, but humble in your individualism.  The highest goal in subjective ethics is to be humble.

Then let God inside your subjective self, thus allowing an objective spirit to enter your body.  This creates the synergy of subjective and objective reasoning.  The combination of a priori and a posteriori makes for perfection.

Once you let God enter your soul, your independent spirit will be lifted up to new heights.  This combination completes the person.  God’s objective, empirical knowledge is the final piece that finishes the jig-saw puzzle.  The highest goal in objective ethics is to become one with God.

Subjective consequences for your poor choices in life will be handed out by your conscience, but objective consequences will be administered by your Creator.

 

 

Introspective Thinking

Have you ever stopped to think about how you are thinking?  It is really quite unique.  Your senses detect everything going on outside you and bring it back inside you for evaluation.  For example your eyes view the world like you are watching a movie.  Your seat in the theatre is somewhere inside your body as you watch the events play out on the big screen.

Your thinking is also somewhere inside you.  It is not surprising that we are focused on ourselves.  Everybody else is outside our movie.  They are actors, and we are the primary customer.  The price of the movie ticket is our life, so we expect to receive the rewards and benefits from that payment.  Other people don’t view life from our perspective, so we are more important, of course, from our standpoint.

When we look in a mirror, we see ourselves more as an actor than as a paying customer, but our thinking is still generally focused on us as an individual, who is more important than the rest of the world.  But what is the reason behind this introspective thinking?  Some people may ask why do we even exist?  It seems that nobody has an answer, but logic tells us that free will is given to us as part of our internal perspective on life.

We make choices every day.  Many of our choices are made to improve our quality of life.  Some of our choices are very poor and lead to consequences during our lives.  Others are bad selections that will have to be dealt with after our lives are over.  Many hope that there will be no afterlife since they don’t want the consequences.

However, it is more likely than not, that there will be something waiting to judge us since otherwise, free will and introspective thinking are quite absurd.  There would be no reason for them.  Otherwise, we would simply react instinctively like others in the animal kingdom.  If our universe has design, free will has to have some reason in the grand design or it makes no sense.  Why are we the only animal with introspective thinking?  Why are we given the freedom to make decisions if there are no evaluations of those selections?  There is no logic for free will without consequences.

Even though quantum mechanics centers on chance activities, our visible world that tests our free will is based on measured decisions with consequences.  For every action or choice, there is an equal and opposite reaction or consequence.  This does not appear to be the case in the quantum world, which provides many opportunities in its game of chance.  But quantum mechanics does not negate God and consequences.  In fact, God could have created the quantum world to keep our universe recycling for eternity, which could be a punishment, in and of itself.

How do I know that afterlife exists at all?  In other words, how do I know what happens when the movie of our life is over?  Will I still be sitting in the seats in a darkened theatre?  Or will the projectionist start another movie?  Or will I walk outside into another world?

Quite frankly I don’t know, but I am reasonably certain that if our thoughts do not end with the movie of our life, then there will be consequences.  How will the consequences play out?  Again, I don’t know.  We may be thinking in a dark, empty theatre, punishing ourselves for all the bad choices we made in life.  Or we may be starring in a new movie, being punished through a process of reincarnation.  Or we may meet the Projectionist or the Creator, who has consequences awaiting us.  But as long as there is any chance at all for their being consequences, then we should work harder on making good decisions.

How Much is Freedom Worth?

Have you ever wondered how much freedom is worth?  I believe it is like they say on the television ad:  “It is priceless.”

Freedom typically is not valued until it is lost.  In other words, we in America take it for granted.  If you were to travel to countries where there is no freedom, you might place a different value on our freedom.

The earliest Americans settled here in order to practice their religions.  So, the freedom of religion is the bedrock or the Plymouth Rock that drew our ancestors to this land.  Americans declared our independence and our freedom to enjoy “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

The First Amendment to our Constitution states:  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The Second Amendment provides:  “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

It is interesting to note that when the first ten amendments were ratified in 1791, these were the first two amendments listed.  Some importance and priority may be mined from that fact.  Religion and worship of God were very important to our Founding Fathers and the early Freedom Fighters.  It was truly a “nation under God.”

After well over 200 years have passed, where are we today?  Even though freedom is still priceless, we haven’t had to fight for it recently, so it just doesn’t seem as important to Americans.  Certainly, our troops have fought in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, but these battles on foreign soil have not been embraced by the public as wars to protect our freedom at home.  The closest thing to an attack on our soil was on 9/11.  However, Americans have returned to their daily routines and the average Joe on the street thinks more about getting a promotion than losing his freedom.  It is just not a thought that we have in America.

Yet, we have been losing our freedoms, a little at a time, but losing them all the same.  Under the First Amendment, has the federal government prohibited the free exercise of religion and has it abridged our freedoms, including speech and press?  Of course it has.  And nobody says anything under penalty of being insensitive to atheists, agnostics, and others who disagree with Christianity.  America will lose her freedoms when average citizens choose to do nothing about protecting them.

I attended a corporate meeting many years ago with employees providing lengthy briefings on the best course for the company for its future.  When the Power Point slides were taken down and the lights came up, the president of the company looked around and asked, “Is there any way I can do nothing?”

If American citizens do nothing, they will lose all of their freedoms.  And once you have lost those freedoms, the government will not give them back without a revolution.  Unfortunately, many citizens are like the corporate president who wanted to do nothing.  They would rather stay under the radar… not make any waves… keep silent… all things which guarantee the loss of their freedoms.

I can remember when Americans were free to say, “Merry Christmas.”  Now, it is insensitive to other religions.  However, freedom of religion embraces all religions.  It does not single out Christianity.  In America, you have the freedom to practice any religion.  You even have the freedom to not practice a religion.  It’s called freedom for a reason.  And restricting Christians from honoring the birthday of Jesus would be like restricting the Muslims or Jews from one of their religious holidays.

The first part of the First Amendment that restricts Congress from establishing a religion should not be taken out of context.  The primary directive is to not prohibit the free exercise of a religion.  Let’s examine the current prohibition on mandatory school prayers.  Doesn’t this federal prohibition restrict the exercise of freedom of religion?  Of course it does.  The argument is that mandatory school prayers establish a religion, Christianity, and interfere with the free exercise of religious beliefs for those who do not believe in prayers.

Let’s get down to basics and common sense.  Quite frankly, any time the government acts to protect the free exercise of religion, Christianity or otherwise, it will be assisting in establishing that religion.  The framers of our Constitution and Amendments were very focused on freedom of religion and less focused on preventing establishment of a religion, so free exercise of religion should always be the bottom line.

It is true that Thomas Jefferson wanted the church to be walled off against the state in order to protect secular interests, but James Madison wanted to decentralize the federal government, allowing the religions in America to compete without interference by the government.

If we are truly talking about emphasizing freedom of religion in America, then the separation of church and state should mean that the government should stay out the business of religion altogether.  This would mean that the government should not restrict any religion, including Christianity.

What is wrong with saying “Merry Christmas”?  What is wrong with saying “Happy Hanukah”?  What is wrong with “Fast during Ramadan”?  All these religions are free to compete within America, no different than businesses.  The government should not promote monopolies of religions or businesses.  That should be the extent of governmental interference.  That should be the extent of our government’s concern about establishing one religion over another.

Let me make this clear.  The government does not restrict advertising by businesses just because that company has a bigger budget for marketing.  Monopoly busting is when a large company is too big, thus reducing the competition.  Monopoly prevention is when two companies are considering a merger and the result would have a substantial cooling effect on competition.  I know of no cases where the government has prevented a company from competing through advertising because it would have a bad effect on competition.

It should be no different for religions.  Government should not prevent religions from marketing, which includes letting others know about their religious days and practices.  This would be a very negative approach to preventing establishment of religions.  America is so diverse and independent, it is not likely that we will see religions forming monopolies.  Religions are known for just the opposite.  They splinter into many different associations, rather than coalescing.

The two provisions in the First Amendment can cancel each other out if you read them literally and out of context.  The federal government has removed many of our freedoms, including freedom of religion and right to bear arms, because it is too big and bureaucratic.

What is the solution?  Well, it is just common sense as Thomas Paine penned in 1776.  The Tenth Amendment of the Constitution provides:  “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

This amendment has been abused and ignored, but it tells the federal government to keep out of our state, local, and personal business unless it has a specific power to so intervene.  And there are not that many powers specifically granted to the federal government.

The key is to return the government to the people.  Citizens should emphasize government at the local levels, where the elected officials actually have a vested interest in their communities.  Typically, mayors and council members will do the right thing for their cities because they live in that neighborhood.  They may protect their communities for selfish reasons, but this is better than federal politicians who distance themselves from what is going on at the local level.  Many don’t care about their constituents, only thinking instead about lining their pockets.

Congress needs to focus the power of the purse on local governments so that we can downsize the federal government and retake our freedoms that were stolen by the feds.  This, at least, is the peaceful solution to the current problem.  Our freedom is certainly worth doing this.

The Passing of the Greatest Generation and its Values

Tom Brokaw wrote a book in 1998 called, “The Greatest Generation,” about the American generation that survived the Depression and went on to fight for freedom in WWII.  Brokaw wrote in his book, “… it is, I believe, the greatest generation any society has ever produced.  He believed that the men and women in this generation fought not for fame or recognition, but because it was the “right thing to do.”

We are losing this WWII generation on a daily basis and as they pass the baton to the younger generations, I wonder if this older generation’s values are being passed along or are they being passed over.

Former president Jimmy Carter wrote about this in “Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis” in 2005, which was “dedicated to our children and grandchildren, for whom America’s basic moral values must be preserved.”  Carter wrote, “I am convinced that our great nation could realize all reasonable dreams of global influence if we properly utilized the advantageous values of our religious faith and historic ideals of peace, economic and political freedom, democracy, and human rights.”

What is causing this erosion and endangerment of our former values?  I call it a “creeping extremism.”  You see it increase every day as extremists throughout the world are committing egregious acts without significant consequences from moderates who used to be in the majority.  Extremists have begat extremists, so that they are becoming the new majority.  This is polarizing our world, removing the moderates, who in the past made our world a better and safer place to live.

What is happening to the generations that follow the Greatest Generation?  Well, they have not had the same moderating influences.  Going through a depression will significantly influence your value system.  I remember my father and mother both believed in “doing the right thing” no matter what the consequences might be.  They were selfless and made moral decisions based on how their actions would impact others.  Today’s generations, without the moderating influences of major economic and wartime pressures, are selfish and their moral values are based on how their actions will impact them.  It’s all about me and not you.

Now, these are generalizations.  Clearly, there are some members of younger generations who are wholly committed to serving society and not themselves.  But it is a matter of percentages.  A great majority of the younger generations have not gone through economic deprivation and therefore have placed themselves on a high pedestal.  They believe that “greed is good.”  If these individuals were asked to give their lives for their country, I suspect I know what most of them would say.  And their question would be, “What is in it for me?”

The problem with extremism and fundamentalism taking over the world is that it will lead to worldwide totalitarianism.  There are those in powerful positions today who believe that they should control the world for themselves, not for the benefit of others.  There is a big difference between philosophical Marxism, which is designed to benefit the working class, and the real-world communism, which controls and subjugates the working class.  The new world leaders will want the rest of us to be completely under their control.  When “freedom” is no longer important to the masses, it will be replaced by “free” government entitlements.  The masses will become addicted to the government and just like drug addicts will give up their freedom for a fix.

So as we lose the Greatest Generation, I pray that moderates within the following generations can maintain some modicum of control to protect our children and grandchildren for a few more years.  However, I think the most we can hope for is to preserve democracy for the remainder of this decade.

God Is on Our Side

Bob Dylan wrote a song that included lyrics: “And the land that I live in has God on its side.”

Here are the lyrics:

Oh my name it is nothin’
My age it means less
The country I come from
Is called the Midwest
I’s taught and brought up there
The laws to abide
And the land that I live in
Has God on its side.

Oh the history books tell it
They tell it so well
The cavalries charged
The Indians fell
The cavalries charged
The Indians died
Oh the country was young
With God on its side.

The Spanish-American
War had its day
And the Civil War too
Was soon laid away
And the names of the heroes
I’s made to memorize
With guns on their hands
And God on their side.

The First World War, boys
It came and it went
The reason for fighting
I never did get
But I learned to accept it
Accept it with pride
For you don’t count the dead
When God’s on your side.

When the Second World War
Came to an end
We forgave the Germans
And then we were friends
Though they murdered six million
In the ovens they fried
The Germans now too
Have God on their side.

I’ve learned to hate Russians
All through my whole life
If another war comes
It’s them we must fight
To hate them and fear them
To run and to hide
And accept it all bravely
With God on my side.

But now we got weapons
Of the chemical dust
If fire them we’re forced to
Then fire them we must
One push of the button
And a shot the world wide
And you never ask questions
When God’s on your side.

In a many dark hour
I’ve been thinkin’ about this
That Jesus Christ
Was betrayed by a kiss
But I can’t think for you
You’ll have to decide
Whether Judas Iscariot
Had God on his side.

So now as I’m leavin’
I’m weary as Hell
The confusion I’m feelin’
Ain’t no tongue can tell
The words fill my head
And fall to the floor
If God’s on our side
He’ll stop the next war.

I believe that most Americans who believe in God consider Him to support their country.  I imagine that the Israelis consider God to be in their corner when they are fighting the Palestinians, and the Muslims think that God is on their side.

I was watching professional football playoff games today and noticed that many religious players thanked God for helping them make a touchdown or a great play.  I bet they feel that God is on their team’s side.

And even though it is wonderful to see so many people recognizing God, it bothers me that they appear to be confused about God’s role during our lives.  God gives us rules to follow and Jesus provided the Beatitudes with tremendous ethical teachings.  These are excellent guidelines… our moral compass that will help us navigate through our journey of life.  God’s words in the Bible help us make better decisions during our lives, but God gives us freedom of choice.

We make choices throughout our lifetimes, not God.  We have free will, so we should not blame or praise God for those things that happen during our lifetimes.  We should simply thank God for creating the universe and giving us an opportunity to live in it.

Yet, we do blame God.  Many Christians think of God as being most important during their lives, rather than their afterlives.  I believe this is a major mistake.  If we get lung cancer, we ask God why He did that to us, forgetting that we chose to smoke a pack a day for over thirty years.  And some deaths occur because of poor genes or bad luck or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  God does not pretend to cause or prevent these deaths.

Thus, it is not logical that God is on your team’s or country’s side either.  During war, many soldiers take solace in their religious beliefs, and this is very important in order to keep their sanity during such a hellish, surrealistic environment.  But that doesn’t mean that God sided with the Allies over the Axis powers in WWII.  Even though Hitler was more evil than good, God did not allow him to be assassinated during the attempts on his life.  History is filled with evil leaders who were not stopped by God.

Nobody knows what will happen over the course of our lives and certainly nobody knows what will happen after we die.  But I believe God’s primary purpose is for the afterlife.  If you believe in the Law of Conservation of Mass and Energy then you know that all the mass and energy in our universe can neither be created nor destroyed.  Any creation had to occur outside our closed universe.  God, as the Creator, is logically outside our universe, existing in His universe.

As I said, I have no idea what will happen after death.  If you die and you are no longer aware of your environment, then there is no afterlife and you don’t need to worry about anything.  Everything will cease when you die, and there is nothing more.

In this scenario, your body will decompose and the matter that once was your body will be recycled, but your thinking existence will come to an end.  Actually, this would be the best situation for us.  But I believe that nothing is destroyed within our closed universe, so our thinking probably will continue after our temporary shells of a body give out.

If you die and are still conscious, then more than likely you will be either in God’s world or in a transition zone leading to the Creator’s world.  If you are still thinking, then you need to reach out and embrace God, unifying with Him.  This is when you need to have God on your side, because we know nothing and God knows everything.

Even though I do not know for certain what will happen, I have a gut feeling that there is no “our” in the afterlife.  So God should be on “your” side, not “our” side.  In other words, it may be only you, your thoughts, and God.  God must be on your side or you will be completely alone in a chaotic underworld that will devour your thoughts, leaving you adrift in a dark world of eternal nightmares.

We can only see about 4% of the universe, and we only know a small fraction of that 4%.  We need to rely on the Creator of this universe, who knows everything about it and beyond.  I suspect that since we know so little about the universe, we will be lost without God.

It’s Free

Have you noticed all the advertisements that offer items that are free?  Health insurance is free.  You are invited to try a month’s supply of a product that is free.  Cell phones are free.  Vacations are free.  But isn’t there usually a catch?  You get that free vacation, but you have to sit and watch a video and then listen to a salesman’s pitch that lasts for hours.

The older generations went through the Great Depression and many wars and recessions.  They know that there is no free lunch.  However, the younger generations don’t know that yet.  They will have to go through some tough times before they finally realize that most things cost you something.  Sometimes, that cost is even giving up your freedom.

But there are some things that are free:  Love that requires nothing in return; God’s gift of life; and the freedom to make choices.  Start with these items that really are free, and you will discover that the other items that are advertised as being free are really quite expensive.  Accept what is truly free and work hard to protect yourself from those who promise you free items in return for taking away your hard-earned freedoms.