A great many seeming unrelated conversations have sparked a flurry of self-reflection. Discussion of political concepts like “inalienable rights,” “liberty,” and “force,” and reminiscing mission stories with my brother over the Thanksgiving holiday, have crept into my analysis of the collapse of my personal world which is always lurking in the back of my mind. Like many of the best science experiments, unexpected contamination is breaking new ground in my journey to be a disciple of Christ.
Since it is too complicated for one post, I’ve broken down my thoughts into three loose groups, politics, marriage, and missionary work. I will cover the other two in future posts.
Politics are patently ridiculous, “testimony” masquerading as rationalism — SilverRain.
I had an epiphany while engaging in this thread that eventually turned into a side thread about whether or not ‘taxes’ were the same as ‘theft.’ I wanted to write it down to remember it. I hope Geoff (who I have to use as an example) will realize that I’m in no way knocking his position. In fact, I hope Geoff will see that he successfully helped me understand his position better.
First, a quick summary of the ‘taxes = theft’ debate. The whole debate was between various conservatives. No liberals or even moderatres (unless you consider me a moderate) were part of the debate. Geoff and some of the more libertarian leaning commenters (LDSP, Rame, Skyler) took the stances that taxes were theft. Adam, SilverRain, and myself (to a lesser degree on this thread, though I’ve engaged in this argument elsewhere) took the stances that taxes, while they should be minimized, are not equivalent to theft. (In a humorous moment, Adam — regularly perceived as an extreme conservative — sent an email to some of us on the thread and said how much he enjoyed finding himself on the other side for a change.)
I’ve been thinking about this for a while and I realize that there is a really important point that came out of this that I personally didn’t want to forget, namely that from a certain point of view, both sides were right. Continue reading
[Cross Posted from Sixteen Small Stones]
One of the important aspects of the LDS doctrine of personal revelation is that the Holy Spirit can and does sometimes instruct individuals to act contrary to our own reason and understanding.
So here is a little supposal:
Think of a presidential candidate that you do not support. Now put the candidate’s name into the appropriate places in the following passage:
And it came to pass that I was constrained by the Spirit that I should support [a specific candidate] for President; but I said in my heart: Never at any time have I supported a [candidate of that ideology/party/record]. And I shrunk and would that I might not support [her/him].
And the Spirit said unto me again: Behold it is the Lord’s desire that [that candidate] be President of the United States…
We spend a lot of time debating and defending our political beliefs, and comparing political candidates to our ideals. But what if, regardless of political party, or ideology, or record, or aptitude, or personality, or anything else we might use to judge our candidates, the Lord for His own reasons wants you to support a candidate different than the one you would choose?
For a long time, I have wrestled with the notion that I need to commit to a political party. Every time I have gone to declare an allegiance of one kind or another, something has stayed my hand. I have been ashamed of this for some time, thinking that perhaps I was too wishy-washy, too uncommitted, too weakly opinioned. I have been enticed by several political ideologies, most notably feminism and libertarianism, and have come close to choosing one on several occasions.
But again, something has kept me “aloof from all these parties” despite engaging in their several discussions as often as I felt drawn to them. Finally, I believe I have reached the root of the issues I have with choosing a political party.
I was in an MSHA class this week and one of the subjects is a Federal laws passed called “miner’s rights.” Essentially its a law that guarantees that a company cannot fire or harass a person if he or she, in good faith, refuses to work in an unsafe environment. Likewise, the laws protect a person if they file a complaint on their company, or testify against their own company in a court. The instructor of our class mentioned that he had testified in court against his own company 8 times and has filed complaints against his own company 4 times and that he had no fear of reprisal due to these laws.
I confess I think laws like Miner’s Rights are a good thing. In fact, I think they are a great thing. Laws like Miner’s Rights is one of many reason why I can’t be an ideological Libertarian. From a purely ideological point of view, Libertarianism believes that government (and therefore laws) should only provide enforcement of contracts, punishments for people that performed an initial use of force, or for country defense. Sometimes they do throw in some very limited public goods. Sometimes they claim there is no need even for government owned fire engines and that the private sector can handle it better.
Such a philosophy would be against “Miner’s Rights” on the grounds that it’s unnecessary because capitalism will create equivalent or better regulations and environments on their own without government interference. For example, the mining companies will be forced to introduce their own superior safety standards and create their own ‘miner’s rights’ that they enforce internally because it’s the only way they can get the best talent to work for them. If they don’t, they can’t compete and they go out of business.
I confess, I just don’t believe it. Continue reading