What Should a Government Be?

All too often, political conversations of any sort—whether by public, or by politicians themselves—sink quickly into the mires of partisan politics. Teams of left and right, red and blue, create straw effigies of the other’s values, and burn them upon the altars of their own smug self-righteousness.

This is a matter of hopeless grandstanding—and seldom serves to advance the policies of either side. Elections are won and lost on insults and rumours, and the greater good of the people is abandoned to the wayside of this sickening side-show.

There is a good exercise which can help people of either viewpoint learn more about not only their opponents, but themselves. Setting aside personal emotions and group identities, one may challenge themselves instead to describe only what they believe a government’s role should be. What should it provide, protect, or prohibit—and on what grounds? What is its purpose?

Try to do this without reference to actual individuals, and certainly not to specific parties. Discuss only ideas of the primary functions that must be served.

It is important not to hang yourself on lofty words with little meaning. Freedom, peace, liberty—such words hold high aspirations, but speak little to practical realities. What do they truly mean to you, and how are they to be upheld?

We discussed these concepts in one article, ‘Greed and the Village’, using a simple tribal village as a model for the type of considerations that must be pondered.

We also discussed the fears around giving power to government in the article ‘On the Fear of Big Government’, where we established the wild and barbaric reality of a world with no authority.

Is it a government’s role to protect businesses, or people? Which people, and from what? Are there exclusions to this protection? What happens when the rights of one violates the rights of others? What about when the growth of a company enriches its members but casts many others into poverty?

Is this a natural and enviable result of a free market, or an economic violence which must be redressed?

These are the questions, and the approach to engagement, which can lead people of wildly different persuasions to not only challenge their own beliefs and grow in the process, but also to find the common ground with those who they long considered their rival.

There are very few people on either side of the spectrum who truly want the young to suffer, or women to be scared, or people to live in hateful captivity. By accusing those who think differently of such intentions, we vilify them and close off all possibility of informed debate. Only by remaining open, and seeking sincerely to find the underlying values for ourselves and our opponents, can we hope to find answers which can unite and help people, rather than serving only to reinforce the wild and destructive division that serves only the powerful.

What do you think?

-Brad OH Inc.

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Project FearNaught- ‘What Does It Take to Change the World?’

Let’s get back to the question at hand. In the opening article of Project: FearNaught, I said that I wanted to start the conversation that changes the world.

That’s exactly what I intend to do.

What does it take to change the world? That is the question. The answer is still in development, and each of you reading this now will play a role, if you have the strength of will to rise up and join me.

Many different answers have been offered. Some will say that love is the only thing that can change the world. Others will argue that honest education and the ability to think critically are what’s needed.

It may require small acts of kindness. It may take discipline, and virtue.

What does it take to change the world? It takes all of these things, and more. It also takes honesty. Honesty with ourselves, and honesty with each other. Sometimes it will demand honesty to each other. That’s a scary thing. But there’s no room for fear here.

Fear leads to withdrawal, and hence to ignorance. This fast grows into resentment, blame and hatred. Some may say that fear leads to self-betrayal, but this is not true. There is nothing a man can do to betray his inmost truths. He only reveals them. And fear, fear can do this like nothing else.

Fear has changed the world many times.

Fear of the way things used to be, and fear of how they could be. Fear of change, and fear of losing what we have.

Fear of the other.

Fear of ourselves.

Fear of standing up and shouting—only to find that we are alone.

So, what does it take to change the world? Fear. Or a lack thereof. Sure, love can do it, so can education. So too can all those other things in varying degree—but that’s precisely because those gifts are the death of fear.

You don’t need love to change the world. You don’t need schools, or libraries, or healthcare. Fear alone can change the world.

Fear is at the root of all human ambition and control. It is fear which keeps us willing to accept our present circumstances, and fear that has delivered us into them.

And that’s why fear is our target…

So, what does it take to change the world?

If a man seeks to change the world, he must first change himself.

I do not have all the answers, and it will be up to the good readers of this site to take this spark and set it to light upon the tinders of their own communities. By design, ‘Project: FearNaught’ has room for all, and by design it requires the input and participation of the masses. This is not a top-down proclamation, but an essential call for community discourse. With that being said, it must also be stated that, by its very nature, ‘Project: FearNaught’ demands utter self-sincerity of its readers and participants. Without that, you will be reading the potential answers to questions you’ve yet to articulate.

So, take this with you— for if you want change, then it’s your responsibility to make it happen. Take it to the streets. Look fear in the eye, and call it out on sight. Own it in yourself, and point it out in others. For we must first know our fear if we seek to escape its paralyzing hold.

Think, talk…and Fear Naught.

Be part of the debate:Project FearNaught is an effort to start the conversation that changes the world. As such, your voice is key to our ambition. To add your input, questions, or comments, click here.

-Jeremy Arthur

‘Truth Ink.’

How to be a Decent Human

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

I’m not a great person.

Sometimes I’m not even good, exactly.

I’d like to think I’m alright.

At the very least, I certainly try to be decent.

It’s not such a complicated thing really. I read a quote from comedian Ricky Gervais recently. He was commenting on the idea that people felt like they couldn’t joke anymore, and how that really wasn’t the case. The full quote is below.

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The crux of this really comes down to how a person reacts to a contrary opinion. Yes, you can tell a joke, but if it ends up hurting someone else that hears it, the question becomes not ‘was the joke funny’, but rather, ‘do you give a shit’?

Caring about other people is, after all, one of the chief qualifiers of decency.

If you tell a joke (or any other sort of comment or action) that gets a negative reaction, you don’t have to defend the joke, or your values, or lament the days where we could say anything we wanted and expect others to choke back their pain in defense of your ‘humour’.

People might be hurt. They may be upset or offended. And you, despite the joke being yours—and assuming it was not meant to hurt—can hear that pain.

It may come as a surprise that you can even ask questions. Not to challenge or undermine their feelings, but to better understand their experience to the extent they are comfortable sharing it.

In the end, you may both be able to learn something, transforming a painful encounter into an opportunity for mutual growth.

It’s not always easy, and no one likes being called out or corrected. It can be uncomfortable, even confusing at times to realize that something you’ve said or done has been deemed inappropriate by another.

What do you say? What do you do?

Well, one simple trick is to start with an apology. You don’t have to fully understand the nuance of differing opinions—it can be enough to understand that another is hurting, and that you are sorry for that. People sometimes need their pain acknowledged, and your obstinate focus on the hilarity of your joke should never undermine that need.

After that, there may be room for discussion, learning and growth. It’s important to remember of course, that the learning just may include the fact that the joke simply wasn’t funny, and that you should not repeat it.

That can be enough.

It’s not that you can’t discuss things anymore—it’s just that the discussion needs to have two sides. You’re not being told not to be yourself—unless you’re an asshole—and certainly, you can still feel free to joke around. Just realize that sometimes, there will be people who will point out the flaws of that joke. From there, it’s up to you to improve the approach, content, or delivery… or risk proving that the real joke is you.

-Brad OH Inc.

Stick to the Plan

I can’t deny—it’s a good time to be a corporate person. We’ve cleared the way to further controlling access to information, and have made great progress towards ensuring the rights of the elite to use their power to leach from the coffers of the taxpayers.

Yes, for the rich and powerful, for the corporate humans and those born into luxury, it certainly is a wonderful time to be alive. Of course, these boons aren’t limited to the greatest corporations alone, and your humble friends here at Brad OH Inc. have not been idle.

The bounty of the times comes to us all…except the poor of course. So right now, we are kicking back and letting the good times roll…but we’ll talk more about all that later.

For now, we encourage you to relax, sit back, and find solace in whatever joy has been left to you. If that proves to be little, then trust instead in us—big things are coming, and as any sound minded person knows, when the pockets of the corporations swell, something is certain to come trickling down to the rest.

Trust us, and stick to the plan…

-Brad OH Inc.

Re-Share: EViL

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

This post was originally from March 19th, 2017. It remains sadly relevant however, and we thought it deserved a re-share.


In the great old stories, it’s never hard to spot the source of evil. It may be a winged beast, or a black rider, or a simple, unblazoned ring sitting on a table, just waiting to change the world…

In reality, however, it’s rarely so easy. Evil may take many guises, and come from any direction. Is evil inherent to humanity? Can it ever be prevented?

Education, equal opportunity and the provision of basic needs and human rights is the most obvious answer, for by removing the greatest temptations towards desperate actions, we are most likely to see them decrease. Yet there seems to be an evil in this world which pervades and permeates even the best intentions. It sprouts up no matter what we do. It finds the cracks, or makes them, and it’s dark blossom unfolds often where it is looked for the least.

Traditionally, there are two ends of the polarity in response. One is to be jaded and fearful, rejecting everything different lest it bring evil in with it. This may prevent the terror from without, but it transforms the hearts of people, and creates hatred and evil within.

The other side would be unending faith in the goodness of human kind, sometimes to the open denial of the gathering clouds. This is idealistic, and often this school of thought is quickly met by the bitter reminder that in the end, best intentions cannot ward off evil acts.

We cannot be too careful, or too careless. Vigilance is the price of peace, and those who would deny the presence of evil may soon suffer its harsh truth.

Alas that we do not have a ring to focus on and destroy. Evil is a more insidious thing than that, manifested most often in the sins of pride, greed, and avarice—the strongest motivators of human vice. We cannot see it, nor cast it into the volcano to banish it forever.

Yet the discerning heart can feel it grow. Where will it strike? None can say.

Still, if you pay attention, you can feel the tension in the air, smell the fresh tinders and see the sparks dancing against the black night sky. Old threats and bedtime stories are alive again. Evil grows…now is the time for heroes.

-Brad OH Inc.

Who Are We?

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

One phrase that’s heard with depressing frequency these days is the impotent refrain of “this is not who we are”.

It begs the question—who are we?

That’s a pretty deep question to anyone but an asshole.

Personally, I’m a little bit different around pretty much everyone I know.

I notice their sense of humour, the tones and facial expressions they respond to best, establish nicknames and idioms to go back to in need.

Alone? That’s a wildcard.

Still, I don’t expect that’s what makes someone something.

Is it their actions?

Their stories?

The changes they’ve made?

The happiness they’ve created?

…Who am I?

A soul, lost and confused, trying it’s best to do good for the world. Taking it all in—the good, the bad, the perverse, the fanatical. Working to process it all, to understand it all, to bring it all together, and in the light remind it.

…Who it was in the beginning.

-Brad OH Inc.

‘That’ Guy at the Bar

 

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

I’d arrived early for my flight, so naturally I found myself at the airport bar having a few last beers before calling it curtains on another fine vacation.

With the thrill of travel still having hold on me, my eyes shot about the room, this way and that, taking in all the different sorts of people gathered. Now, they were no longer the fascinating locals of a strange land, but a mixed assortment of likeminded travellers coming or going to where I would never know.

It was a fairly typical crowd. Young couples with diamonds in their eyes, old men with coals. People exhausted from long treks and people eager to start new ones. And of course, there was ‘that’ guy.

We’ve all seen him before.

Red faced and talkative. Talking too loud, talking too much. Talking too forcefully—too absolutely certain of the value of his long-winded rants, and utterly convinced he was the life of an otherwise non-existent party. He was the kind of idiot you see all the time.

The kind I do my best to avoid. And I certainly tried.

I scrolled through my phone and sipped my beer while waiting on my burger. Still, I’d glance up now and then, taking in the annoyed but patient expressions around him.

He’d already shouted out a young couple sitting on the side of the bar near him. They laughed and waved as they hurried away. I saw his laugh melt into a leer as he watched her take her partner’s hand and leave. Then he fell into blathering to a bunch of young ‘bros’ at the bar, and I figured that would keep him occupied for a while.

My burger arrived, and I thought that was the end of it.

As I finished my meal and got to work on my next beer, I noticed that the young men had been abandoned by their loud-mouthed old counterpart. He was on the other side of the bar now, clawing at some young lady as he bellowed about his life and worth and ‘stories you wouldn’t believe’.

I wondered if she could be his daughter. That would explain the perturbed expression on her face and the patience she showed as he leaned his red face in over-close and tried once more to catch at her arm. How many times had she found him like this?

Or maybe she was just another poor stranger. Perhaps she knew the younger men and was trying to make her way past him to join her companions.

They were staring at their phones now though, and their lack of recognition seemed almost intentional.

She glanced about nervously as he spoke. I felt concerned, but maybe she was just late for a flight and struggling to remain polite.

I caught her eye at one point, and it seemed the look held overlong. Nervously, I glanced away, hoping she didn’t take me for another idiot ready to cast my hand in on the action.

Was he trying to kiss her there, or just leaning in too much under the weight of his drink?

Everyone else stared intently at whatever screen was nearest at hand. But now, I was worried.

He offered to walk her to her gate and she said she would be fine.

He persisted, and she joked that she was a big girl and could handle herself.

She laughed nervously and cast her eyes downward as she tried to step around him. That didn’t work either.

Finally, I felt guilty. I’d waited too long, thought too much.

That’s the point of all this. ‘No’ is a word to be respected. And she’d said it in every way possible while avoiding making too much of a scene.

He was circling around and cornering her near the exit by the time I stood up. I caught her eye again, but spoke this time, loud enough for the bar to hear me above his commotion. “Are you ok there?”

Until that moment, she had held her countenance in a nervous, meek mask of worry and embarrassment. Now, it threatened to break as she leaned desperately around him to answer me, “…no.”

That one did the trick. I turned to him now, giving her my back and clearing a way to the door. He looked up at me with the wry confidence of a man who has been told he was special all his life and finally came to accept it as sacrosanct.

“You need to leave her alone.” Bereft of his banter, I imagine the whole bar heard me. Still, few looked up from their phones. But she took the opening, and darted through the exit.

He held my gaze for a moment in challenge, his ruddy face wrinkling with the supreme disappointment of a toddler being told they couldn’t keep the toy they’d torn from the shelf. Then he shrank back.

“Ok,” he said with a churlish sneer, and slunk off to his seat. He sat back down with the young guys, and soon they were all laughing again.

People kept scrolling on their phones.

I wondered if I was too aggressive, and sat in uncomfortable silence until the bar tender slid over a free beer. “Good man,” he said with a conspiratorial nod.

My vacation was over. She was, presumably, safe. He, I assume, would be unaffected by the encounter.

As I finished up my second beer before moving onto the free one, I reflected on the questions I’d asked myself before acting. The justifications for my potential silence.

Was she his daughter? No.

Was she just a patient stranger? No.

Was she amused by the banter but in a rush to catch a flight? No.

It was clear enough now. It wasn’t about her shyness, or her effort to be polite. Her patience in avoiding a scene didn’t matter, and my reticence to be part of one didn’t either.

She’d said no. At least four times. That was all that mattered, and that should have been the end of it. She should not have had to repeat herself, and if she did the whole bar should have risen loudly to back up her statement and support her choice. But that’s not the world we live in.

It should not have come down to one lone person accepting they would have to be the one to stand up. But I guess that’s where we are these days, and it’s probably well ahead of where we were not so long ago.

I slid the empty cup across the bar and started on the free one. It was cold and smooth.

‘That’ guy at the bar. I thought about the term. It should mean something different. Not the pushy idiot who has no place in the bar to begin with, but rather the ones willing to speak up for those going unheard.

I wondered, if I ever saw the moment to be ‘that’ guy again, would I hesitate?

No.

-Brad OH Inc.