Partisanship – a problem with no easy solution.

The human weaknesses of  ignorance, misunderstanding, and fear are demonstrated by the idea that voting for a third party candidate, or an unaffiliated candidate is either splitting the conservative or liberal vote, or wasting one’s vote entirely and being disloyal to so-called “conservatism” or so-called “liberalism”.

I am at a loss to explain this mentality when viewed from a principled standpoint.  Any vote, as long as it is cast honestly for the person who one views as the best individual for the job, regardless of party affiliation is no more splitting the vote than voting for a major party candidate. Why should the major parties get to decide whom all “conservatives” or “liberals” should vote for? I reject the idea that belonging to the one of the major political parties is a sign that you are more worthy of a vote.

The whole idea behind popular sufferage is that we should vote for principled men and women.  Men and women who have integrity to stand for what they believe is right.

Han Fei Tzu said:

“The ruler must not reveal his desires; for if he reveals his desires his ministers will put on the mask that pleases him.”

In a republic, the people are the rulers and our representatives are our ministers.  The problem with many modern politicians is that they are following the pattern Han Fei Tzu spoke of.  They tell the people what they want to hear in order to gain favor and get elected.  They are more influenced by what the polls say would get them re-elected, rather than on what their own study and conscience tell them is the right thing to do.

Politicians who stand by what they believe are labeled as radicals.  We are told that they can’t win elections because they are too abrasive or controversial in their opinions.  This is only true if the American people have failed in their most important duty, which is, as Oliver DeMille said:

 … the greatest duty of citizens, the one that makes them good at all the other responsibilities, is clear, concise, virtuous, independent thinking.

We, as the rulers, because active citizens do not have an option to hide what we want from our ministers (this is what we do when we vote), have the responsibility to choose the candidate who demonstrates the most integrity to what they believe, and whose actual beliefs coincide most closely to our own.

My idea for independent communities (that I call Free Commots) would help us do just that.  Small communities of individuals, who are familiar with each other on an individual level, and who know and trust one another would be able to combine their resources to keep tabs on what their common elected officials are actually doing to demonstrate what they  believe.  They would be better equipped and more likely to have their common elected officials listen to what they have to say as a community.

I have several ideas about how to implement Free Commots.  I would like to have other collaborators give their input and insights.  I believe this is critical to the cause of freedom and liberty.  I am inviting all who are interested to join me in developing this idea.  If you would like to participate or just receive updates on the progress, please fill out this form.

Paying the Price

Sometimes we have the tendency to think that in order to show our loyalty, love and devotion to something, we have to demonstrate it by some grandiose and glorious sacrifice.  We may think of the everyday mundane tasks as not worth our energy and that if we are not battling in some glorious battlefield, literal or metaphoric, that we are not fighting the fight for liberty.

When I’ve heard the song “I Do It For You”  by Bryan Adams, which includes the lyrics:

…I would fight for you, I’d lie for you, Walk the wire for you, yeah I’d die for you …

Some consider this a very romantic idea, but I wonder if theywould be so enamored if, instead, it said:

… I’d forgive you, I’d tell the hard truths to you, Wash the dishes for you, yeah I’d live for you …

To me, this is far more indicative of the feeling of love.  There may be a tendency among some of us to think that the more people know who we are and the greater our prestige and celebrity, the greater our influence.

We may see people like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Mohandas Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Joan  of Arc, and other glorious heroes from history, compare our own lives to theirs and feel that we come up lacking because we are doing the glorious and grandiose things that heroes of the past accomplished that what we do in our homes every day does not matter.

In the book Taran Wanderer, Taran started his journey of self-discovery with these same misconceptions about himself and what it means to be honorable.  He hoped to find that his parents were of “noble” birth so that he could feel worthy to marry the Princess with whom he had shared many adventures.  Through his quest and his interaction with the communities of the Free Commots, he came to understand that nobility is found not only in doing the daring and gloriously heroic deeds of legends, but  also to learn to appreciate what may seem tedious and to work in the mundane everyday tasks required to create anything of quality.  He found that learning to make something of beauty does not start with simply making it, but requires an understanding of all the preparatory work that must be done to make sure it is done well and has more than a superficial quality.  He also found that to work peacefully at creating something of beauty, utility, or both brings just as much of a sense of honor as fighting alongside friends and neighbors to defend against thugs and highwaymen.

When the time comes to do the glorious deeds of which legends are created, we must not be afraid to put our life, or even our personal liberty in jeopardy in defense of the truth.  But we must also be willing to do the everyday, non-glorious tasks of working every day to support our family, spending time with and getting to know our neighbors, helping out people we find who could use a helping hand, being a good friend, keeping our home and our yard clean, and raising our children to be productive members of society.

What makes an honorable man or woman is not the size of the sacrifice asked of them, but whether they are willing to pay whatever price is required to accomplish honorable ends.  Even if the price will not bring notoriety, and others may scoff at the relative honor and glory of their assigned task in the fight for freedom, sometimes what is asked of us is that we be willing to sacrifice our pride in how others perceive us and find our pride in our contribution to building something truly worthwhile.

Combined Resources vs. Individual and Independent Control

A single Douglas fir, Select Structural grade, 8 foot 2×4, used as a column, has the capacity to hold about 636 lbs.  When you combine two of these 2×4’s, instead of doubling the amount it can hold (1272 lbs.), the capacity increases to 4851 lbs.  That’s almost four times the capacity simply by combining the strength of two 2×4’s.

As with structural lumber so it is with people. This applies to social resources and physical resources.  When people combine resources they have the potential to accomplish so much more than the sum of the resources of the individuals.  This is one of the many benefits to the concept of the division of labor.  When individuals are focused on doing what they do best, and combine efforts, they accomplish much more than as a group of autonomous individuals.  Stephen Covey, in The Seven Habits of Effective People, called this synergy.  It is when people combine efforts to become more than the sum of the parts.

However, to combine resources in this way, the individuals must be strong and moral independent of each other.  In what Stephen Covey calls the maturity continuum there is a progression from dependence to independence to interdependence which culminates with synergy.  In order for people to combine resources in interdependence, they must first achieve a level of independence and have a strength of their own.  To attempt to combine resources without all parties being independently strong, you will either end up in a parasitic relationship, or in a co-dependent relationship, both of which are destructive.

One of the things that happen when dependent individuals combine resources is referred to as the tragedy of the commons.  The resources, instead of being put to productive use, does not receive sufficient maintenance, and is consumed by everybody without replenishing it’s supply or producing another resource to replace it.

Dependence assumes that maintenance and production are “someone else’s job” and take little or no responsibility for providing for its own needs and wants.  Dependence views the world in terms of available resources, and because it takes no responsibility to provide those resources, it sees those resources as finite and limited, and thus dependence is controlled by a fear of loss.   They are reluctant to share the resources they have, because more people is essentially more consumers of their resource.

Independence, on the other hand, takes responsibility for producing resources and as such they see resources as abundant and renewable.  They have no fear of loss because they know how to produce whatever they need.  They see people as assets – another source of production, thus decreasing the likelihood of running out of resources.  They are not afraid to share with other independent people.

In order to build a strong independent community, you must first start with strong independent families who choose to work together and combine resources to form a community.  Strong independent families are only accomplished by strong independent individuals who voluntarily choose to combine resources to form a family.

So one of the primary aims of any attempt at a solution to build independent communities is to help individuals and families obtain independence.

Technologically connected vs. individually familiar

There are definitely exceptions to the trend of being a stranger to your next door neighbor.  There are neighbors that still have backyard barbeques with each other.  There are church groups that meet together and offer support and share in happiness.  But the tendency of today’s world, full of texting, tweeting, facebooking and many other forms of electronic communication, is that we pay more attention to Facebook status updates , than in paying attention to whether our neighbor might need help starting their car in the morning.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m a big fan of Facebook and social networking.  I have been able to connect with people I haven’t seen in decades and meet new people with common interest via Facebook.  Texting my wife or kids when I’m about to leave work so they know when to expect me is more convenient for both them and for me.  Electronic communication makes keeping in touch very efficient.  However, efficiency is not always the best goal.

I’m also no saint when it comes to being familiar with my neighbors.  This is actually the point.  My goal is to stretch my own comfort zone and hope to encourage others to do it with me so that we can strengthen our neighborhoods without eliminating the convenience and value which electronic communication provides.

If we can gain closeness with those that are geographically close; without losing the connectivity, provided by electronic communication, with those that are geographically distant; then we can find the balance between the two to discover the ideal middle ground between control and freedom.

What in the world is a Free Commmot?

A community based solution for the revival of the self-sufficient family and the independent supporting community.

I got the name Free Commots from one of my all time favorite youth fiction novels, Taran Wanderer, by Lloyd Alexander.

The main character in the book, Taran, a foundling boy, goes in search of his birthright, in hopes of discovering that he has an honorable family tree.  On his quest, he gains a deeper understanding of what it means to be honorable, and he discovers his own true nobility among a collection of independent, self-supporting communities called The Free Commots.

The Free Commots were small separate communities made up of artisans and craftsman who were renown throughout the fictional land of Prydain for their expert skill.  They were also known for their independence.  They lived without owing allegiance to monarch or overlord or any central governmental institution and being governed only by something nearly unheard of in today’s culture – Self-Government.

I believe that we can start a mini-factory based on the concept of the Free Commots.

I am still trying to flesh this idea out.  It is very much in the beginning stages, so I welcome and ask for any collaboration and feedback.  If you are interested in helping me in this endeavor, please leave a comment or send me an email at spiffy3 at gmail dot com.