Random Firings of Neurons

The rest of your life is going to be spent getting back up after life has knocked you down again. You might as well just get used to it.

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Location: Round Rock, Texas, United States

Saturday, August 21, 2004

On Fear

Way back when, before digital watches, Xerxes, Emperor of Persia, had one of the cities under his rule revolt. This city knew that it couldn't succeed without help from outside sources. So, this city sent emmissaries to every other country they could find. In Athens, the emmissaries found a sympathetic ear. The Athenians sent a token force to help this city out. The revolt was successful. This did not please Xerxes in the slightest. Neither did the help from a nation he had never heard of. So, he decided to punish Athens for its audacity. He gathered a HUGE army, to punish the Athenians, and, by implication, the Greeks. Athens then sent out a call to all of the Greek city-states for assistance. All of the cities were willing to help, but only Sparta could send help immediately, and not very much, at that. (Sparta was in the midst of a religious celebration, and wouldn't be done with it for a week or two. Spartans did NOT interrupt their religious celebrations, even for a good war.) Sparta did manage to muster up 300 warriors, led by their King, Leonidas, and accompanied by their shield-bearers. (you ever notice the poor servants are never included in any casualty count from the ancient times?) It was decided that the Greeks would face the Persians at Thermopylae, along the Adriatic coast. Someone would have to try and delay the Persians until the rest of the Greek city-states could muster their armies and navies. King Leonidas and his 300 Spartans volunteered for the duty. No, actually, they DEMANDED the duty. Because that is why they were there. To fight the Persians, and protect the other Greek city-states. Oh, I should mention that the Persian army was around 1,000,000 men...by almost every account. Most historians think the 1,000,000 man mark isn't too far off. But, anyway, King Leonidas and his Spartans stood at Thermopylae, facing Xerxes and his 1,000,000 man army. (2nd Amendment fans know what happened next....do the words "Molon labe" ring a bell?) For those of you who are dying of suspense, King Leonidas and his 300 Spartans held out for three days, and then were killed to a man. But, the Greek city-states used that time to gather their navies, and faced Xerxes at Marathon, where the Greeks were victorious. But, that's not what I care about right now. In fact, my recollection of the exact details may be a little off. But, what I am concerned with is King Leonidas and his Spartans.


You see, King Leonidas and his Spartans KNEW they were going to die. To them, the question was, HOW were they going to die? In their beds, as subjects of a conqueror, or on the field of battle, fighting to preserve what freedoms they had. (Not many, actually, but still more than as a subject of Persia...) What method of dying did they fear most? They feared dying WITHOUT fighting. To them, losing their freedoms was more frightening than death, or dismemberment, or even pain. Fighting to preserve those freedoms, EVEN UNDER PENALTY OF DEATH, was considered the mark of a man. Fear, not bravery, drove those Spartans to stand against insurmountable odds, and say "Come and get us, we're waiting for you". Okay, they may not have said those exact words, but we do know they offered to turn their weapons over to the Persians, if the Persians were willing to "come and get them". Anyway, at first blush, and many looks afterwards, most historians and lay-man would assume that the stand of Leonidas and his 300 at Thermopylae were the pinnacle of bravery in the face of certain death. I, on the other hand, look at them as cowards of the first order, and the world could use a few more cowards like them.

One of the benefits of the system of government laid out in the US Constitution is that EVERY citizen has a say in how their government is run. Now, that is no longer the case. Because too many people are too afraid of being labeled with a negative term to actually stand up for what is right, and to fight for their say in their govenrment. Or else too many people are too afraid to give up the few rights that are left to them to fight for the rights that the Constitution actually accords them. How else to explain the complacency that the American public seems to have towards our constant erosion of rights?

As someone who currently doesn't have a say in our political system right now, I view with some amused detachment the fights over "Rights" in our society. When some knucklehead politician proposes a law that infringes on our rights, there is the usually some rather heated discussion about the law, but, in the end, the majority of people just throw up their hands and say "whatever!". They give up. Yet when some group or other wants to fight for a PRIVELEGE, the fight goes on for decades! Loss after loss after loss doesn't deter them. Each victory emboldens them. Each defeat makes them try that much harder. Am I the only one who is confused by this?

I suppose I should take a minute or two and explain what a right is. A right is a something that EVERYONE has, without any actions from outside agencies. The right to free speech exists because no one can prevent you from saying, or writing, what you want, short of killing you. They don't have to help you do it, but that is different from actually trying to stop you. The right to keep and bear arms is a right, because no one can stop you from doing it. If someone actually manages to take away your firearms, you can arm yourself with blades. If someone takes those away, you can arm yourself with clubs. If someone takes THOSE away, you can arm yourself with rocks. If someone is patient enough to take THOSE away, you still have your fists. The right to keep and bear arms cannot be taken away. It can only, as the Constitution states, be infringed. Or limited. The right to not incriminate yourself? One of the most basic rights ever. No one can stop you from lying about what you did. The Constitution just says you don't have to lie to keep from admitting your guilt. You just have to not say anything. *sigh* I wish more people would exercise that right...the not saying anything part.

Many of the things that pass for rights in our society are actually priveleges. The right to health care? A privelege. If there were no health care workers near you, you wouldn't be able to get health care. So, health care is a privelege, because SOMEONE ELSE has to give it to you. If that someone else is required to give it to you, then THEIR rights are being violated. And rights never violate anyone else's rights. The right to a vote? A privelege. And one of the greatest priveleges given to a society by a government. If you think the right to vote isn't a privelege, go to Saudi Arabia and try casting a ballot for the opposition party.... Since the right to vote is actually a privelege, I am always astonished at the number of people who don't exercise that privelege. But, hey, that's just me. I didn't vote in the first (and only) two elections I was eligible to vote in, so I guess I can't complain too loudly. But that was then. This is now.

Back to the matter at hand, though. In our society, we have been entertained with the Gay Rights movement for, oh, at least 20 years that I've been aware of. But what are they fighting for? The same thing the Abortion Rights movement has been fighting for: the "right" to have as much indiscriminate sex as they want, with no repercussions, such as disease, pregnancy, or, Heaven fordid, any one telling them that they are sluts, or might just be immoral. Are those really rights? Or just priveleges? When one looks at it, one realizes that they are just priveleges. Because the rights they purport to want infringe on other people's rights, so must be priveleges. Yet common American's are too afraid to actually stand up for their own rights to fight the infringement of their rights by these privelege seekers! The privelege seekers have nothing to fear. If they don't get their priveleges, they are in the same situation they were in before they started. If they DO get their priveleges, they get to have more priveleges. The only ones who should be afraid are the ones who actually ARE afraid...to stand up for themselves.

I have been asked what I would do if I woke up one day to find out that a right of mine had been taken away. I thought that question to be one of the most nonsensical questions I have ever heard, because there is NO WAY I would allow my rights (the few I actually have remaining) to be taken away without a good old fashioned dust up. If my rights were still taken away, because I lost, that wouldn't stop me from picking myself up for Round 2. Or Round 3. Or Round 15. Or Round 36. Because the only way my rights could be taken away is if I LET SOMEONE TAKE THEM! And I have NO intention of letting someone do that. I lost most of my rights due to a youthful indiscretion, and have precious few rights to spare. Oh, and just for the record, I can get those rights back just about anytime I want...so my assertion that I let those rights be taken away still stands. I have just been too lazy to clear my record, so, by inaction, I have let those rigths be denied to me. I just haven't felt the urge to get the rights I don't have re-instated, because they just haven't affected my life all that much. But it is on my list of things to do.

To bring this back full circle, what are YOU afraid of? Are you afraid of people not liking you? Get over it. The numbers of people who won't like you, for no apparent reason, would almost drive you to suicide. Are you afraid of pain? Get over it. Pain heals. Pain is actually God's way of letting you know you are still alive. Are you afraid of Death? Become a Christian. Death is almost a reward, rather than a punishment, or something to fear. (I don't mean to imply that Christians should be SEEKING Death, just that they shouldn't be afraid of it) Afraid of servitude? Don't be a slave. Slaves don't fight back. Free men (and women, of course) do fight back. Leonidas and his 300 men were more afraid of being slaves than they were of dying. Can you say the same?

Oh, and Leonidas and his 300 Spartans were gay. Queer as three dollar bills, they were. Doesn't change their stand one bit.

Semper Fidelis: Always Faithful, to God, Corps and Country