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Daring Our Children to be Different

Unknown_maker,_French_-_Woman_Reading_to_a_Girl_-_Google_Art_ProjectWe have spent our whole lives shaping our beliefs and making decisions to guide ourselves to what we hope is a good life. Our children are infused with our beliefs and guided by the types of decisions we’ve made and the reasons why we made them. And, why not? We’ve spent our lives assessing the world and these are our best answers to achieving happiness. So why not pass this great information along to our children?

Stalin_birthday2While I see no harm in passing along this hard-earned information to our children, it is important to note that if we teach them nothing else, if we don’t encourage them to learn about (at least) a few of the innumerable world-views that exist, then we are indoctrinating them, not guiding them. Some people may not see this as necessarily bad because if it is good for them, it must be good for their kids. I would suggest, however, that by indoctrinating our children we rob them of vital information that will allow them to find the good life.

1. Critical thinking.

Indoctrination is based on the idea that there is only one way to live “correctly.” No decision-making is required. There is no comparing, contrasting, or weighing of difficult information. Yet, critical thinking is essential, from building relationships to success at work. Critical thinking allows us to assess difficult situations and to make best choices.

2. Ownership of ideas.

One of the ideas promoted by our Founding Fathers is that people will value that which they earn more than something that is simply given to them [Reference Ben Franklin]. The same applies to personal philosophy. If our children’s idea of good living is only what we taught them, they haven’t put thought into it themselves. Thus, they have no ownership in the ideas. The donated ideas that they hold will not mean nearly as much to them as those ideas that they’ve forged themselves.

3. Broader understanding of the world.

If our children are raised within the context of just one world-view, they will be behind the curve as they enter adulthood. Whether at home, work, or even across the globe (thanks to the internet), they are going to run into an almost limitless number of perspectives. Forget about culture shock, let’s talk about philosophy-shock! Not everybody thinks that democracy is great? Some people don’t think we are born in sin? If our children already have an understanding of varying world-views, they will be more confident in their own views, more accepting of other people’s right to have differing views, and less likely to doubt everything you ever taught them because you hid these perspectives from them.

4. Individuality.

Like it or not, our children are not miniature versions of ourselves. They are individuals with their own likes, dislikes, interests, and capacities. Thus, their path to the good life is not likely going to be the same as ours. If we force our children to accept our way, we inherently block some, if not most, of their individuality. By blocking their individuality, we simultaneously refuse to them the best means to a good life for themselves.

Dare them to be different from us

5_religionsEven with all of this said, it doesn’t mean that we can’t talk to our children about what we believe or the decisions we make and why–that is a natural part of parenting. However, instead of viewing ourselves as dictators of truth, we should view ourselves as guides. We should guide them with our principles, but encourage them to find the other side and to examine it themselves. If we are Catholic, encourage them to read the Bhagavad Gita. If we are atheist, encourage them to attend church or read the Bible. Whether we are Republican or Democrat, encourage them to compare and contrast the two political systems. As a matter of fact, why not broaden their horizons even more and encourage them to read the platforms of third parties.

U.S._party_affiliationWe shouldn’t be afraid of what our children will learn. By allowing them to venture into the world of ideas, we are giving them a great opportunity to develop themselves and their own world-views separately from us; we are allowing them to take ownership of how they live and what they believe; we are gifting them with the essential function of critical thinking and a broader understanding of not only themselves, but their co-inhabitants on this earth.

And–fear of all fears–what if they decide to take a different path? So what! We should appreciate our children’s differences from us just as much, if not more, than their similarities to us. For what is more valuable–a pair of brown eyes that look like ours or a well-thought-out set of ideas and ideals that will help them achieve a good life?

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What are the Best Ways for a Woman to Defend Herself?

First, a note about my experience on the subject:

I have studied the martial arts for more than three decades. I have taught for more than a quarter of a century. I have done my homework: hundreds of hours of research on attackers, victims, and the physiological impact of a sudden threat and/or attack. I am also a woman.

Please note: Below I’ve listed a number of resources for self-defense, research, and assistance for rape victims.

Recent  bad advice in the media

.A number of statements have been made recently telling women to either use “passive defense” or to use “weapons” such as ink pens if they are attacked. These opinions are either uninformed or, at best, do not explain the whole truth about women defending themselves against an assailant.

So what should women know?

The first thing every woman should know is that when an attack occurs, the body goes into fight or flight mode. Fear causes adrenaline to pump through her; her heart starts to beat so quickly that it echoes in her head; and her fine motor movement is hampered because of the adrenaline rush. None of this nullifies a woman’s ability to defend herself. However, an attack is complex and should not be underestimated.

Another factor to consider is the attacker, who will also have adrenaline pumping through him (for different reasons). The most important thing to note about attackers is that they are all different. While this may seem obvious, it is an often overlooked point when discussing self-defense. Why is it important? Some attackers enjoy women who fight back; Some will be intimidated by women who fight back; Some won’t care either way. Their size will differ as well. Height, weight, and strength of an attacker are all important considerations that could impact the manner of self-defense.

There is also a question of the location. The location will make the attack-defense scenario different in virtually every case. Is the attack in your home, in a park, or in a parking lot? Is it daylight? If it is, are other people within shouting distance or not?

Even with all of these variables, my list is not exhaustive. The simple fact is that every attack is different, which is why it is important that women have knowledge of multiple defenses.

Given that so many variables exist in an attack, are there any general rules to follow?

While there aren’t many general rules, there are a few that every woman should know.

The first general rule:

The more distance a woman can keep between herself and her attacker, the safer she will be.

From a distance, the attacker is unable to grab, strike, or rape her. One of the best ways to hold an attacker at a distance is to have a gun as a defense weapon. If he decides to attack her anyway, she has time and distance to respond with her weapon. A gun also has the added bonus of being obvious. It is obvious that a gun can severely injure or kill. This is not true of a woman who decides to fight back, but only has an ink pen in her hand–or even nothing in her hands. If the attacker is a betting man, he will assume that he has a good chance against an ink pen or against a “mere” woman.

Given that a gun is one of the best means of self-defense, I recommend that women:

  1. Learn how to shoot with an expert (gun ranges are helpful here).
  2. Purchase a gun only when they feel secure that they can use it properly and safely.

Close-Quarter Defense: Risky but Necessary

Of course, not all women carry a gun and, even if they do, they will not necessarily have it with them when they are attacked. So, having close-quarter and empty-hand defense ability is a good idea.

However, being in close quarters with the attacker, where the woman is just as much in the attacker’s striking range as he is hers, the woman is much more likely to be injured.

The government’s own statistics supports this: “A fifth of the victims defending themselves with a firearm suffered an injury, compared to almost half of those who defended themselves with weapons other than a firearm or who had no weapon.” (1) So, close-quarter combat is riskier, but not impossible.

There are two general rules regarding empty-hand combat:

  1. Use gross motor movements such as knee and elbow strikes. These strikes are stronger and more reliable than defenses that require fine motor movement (such as making a fist).
  2. Attack vital areas. The eyes, throat, groin, etc. are basically the same on every man. They take less physical strength to injure, regardless of the height or weight of the attacker.

What about those ink pens?

Ink pens are certainly an alternative, but much like being empty-handed, ink pens and other “small weapons” require close-quarter fighting, thus making them much riskier than having a weapon that can hold the attacker to a distance.

Get Educated

As close-quarter defense is riskier, I strongly recommend that it only be viewed as a back-up plan. I also recommend that all women take martial arts or self-defense classes in order to learn the most efficient and effective empty-hand defenses against an attacker, particularly because the attacker is likely going to be bigger and stronger. Another benefit of taking classes is that over time and with repetition, the physical defenses become part of muscle-memory. She is out of time if she is in close-quarter combat and will have to rely on her automatic responses. The muscle-memory developed from practice will allow her to react without having to stop and think about it.

A Final Note: “Passive” Self-Defense

One last note–regarding passive defense. As I have mentioned, every attack is different; and cases have been noted where women were able to scare off the attacker by telling him she had a disease or by disgusting him because she urinated on herself. These are the exception rather than the rule, however. So, while it is good to understand that passivity is an option for defense, it is also good to understand that it will do nothing to stop most attackers.

As a self-defense instructor, I want my students to have as much knowledge as possible–as many options as possible–for their personal defense. They can then take this information and decide what is right for them or right for the particular situation they face when attacked. Limiting their knowledge by telling them such things as urinating on themselves is a “good” defense when in most cases it is not will only handicap them in the event of a real attack.

References:

(1) http://bjs.gov/content/pub/ascii/hvfsdaft.txt

Recommended Resources:

Please note that none of these resources are mine. I am recommending them simply because I found them useful and/or informative while researching women’s self-defense. Also, I’ve placed asterisks next to the book that I would only recommend for adults. Regardless, the topic is sensitive, so parents should use their discretion with these materials.

Books

The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker

The Evil That Men Do by Roy Hazelwood**

Fight Like a Girl … And Win by Lori Hartman Gervasi

Thank God I Had a Gun: True Accounts of Self-Defense by Chris Bird

I Never Called it Rape: The Ms. Report on Recognizing, Fighting, and Surviving Date and Acquaintance Rape by Robin Warshaw

No! No! No! A Woman’s Guide to Personal Defense by Kathy Long

Statistics and Other Research

When Criminals Face Armed Resistance by the Cato Institute

Information for Victims of Sexual Assault by the Montana Department of Justice

Rape, Resistance, and Women’s Right of Self-Defense by Dr. Gail Reekie and Professor Paul Wilson

R.A.I.N.N. (The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) Statistics

Sex Offenses and Offenders: An Analysis of Data on Rape and Sexual Assault by the Bureau of Justice Statistics

Female Victims of Sexual Violence by the Bureau of Justice Statistics

Resources for Rape Victims

10 Helpful Online Resources for Victims of Rape

R.A.I.N.N. (The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network)

Safe Horizon

Rape Victims Support Network

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Another Hazard to Government Regulation of “Unhealthy” or “Fattening” Foods

lossy-page1-297px-Person_weighing_on_a_sclae.tiffMayor Bloomberg of NYC made a splash with his recent attempt to curb the consumption of large sodas, which was thwarted by the courts. Nanny State proponents, such as Bloomberg, argue that it is the government’s right–and even duty–to force us, either through laws or taxation, to eat healthier in order to cut down on the rate of national obesity. Rightfully, many cogent arguments have since been made stating that food regulations and “fat” taxes violate individual rights. (1) And, while this is the most fundamental argument against Nanny State interference with what we choose to eat or not, it isn’t the only argument.

anorexia-bulimia-eating-disorder-make-up-perfect-Favim.com-260612There is an oft overlooked point to the debate: the message we are sending to our children when we focus so heavily on obesity. In the United States alone, up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder). Let’s look at these numbers a little more closely:

  • A full 95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25.
  • In a survey of 185 female students on a college campus, 58% felt pressure to be a certain weight, and of the 83% that dieted for weight loss, 44% were of normal weight.
  • 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner
  • 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat (3)

mischa-barton-anorexia-skinny-unhealthy-fat-hot-sexy-beautiful-pics-photos-celeb-gossip-blog-the-oc-tv-show-fox-celeb-hair-style-chica-inc_35970455It is common to hear criticism of too-skinny celebrities for being a negative influence on youth. However, the constant focus by the government, mainstream media, and even parents on obesity, I would argue, is even more guilty for influencing our children since these factors play a constant role in their lives. First, obesity is almost always presented as a horrible thing–“Too many people are obese!” “We have become a fat nation!” Then the news channels show images of morbidly obese individuals, often eating fatty foods. (4) The message is clear: “Isn’t this disgusting?”

In response, people start to clamor for government intervention. Again, the message is clear: “People can’t stop themselves from being fat and unhealthy, so the government must stop it.” At this point, being overweight becomes not just an aesthetic condemnation, but a moral condemnation as well.

As a woman myself and as the mother of two teenage daughters (as well as a two year old), I know the difficulty girls, in particular, experience when it comes to body image. This difficulty is compounded daily when our government-run public schools chastise children for bringing “fattening” snacks in their lunches or even take their lunches away. (5) The message isn’t missed by approval-seeking children who have yet to develop the confidence to ignore or reject overt criticism. Too many respond by embracing unhealthy dieting and eating disorders. And these decisions are merely reinforced when they hear on the news about how fat we are as a nation or they hear their parents discuss why certain foods should be banned.

Anatomia_homem_leonardoThe fact is that it would be difficult to find a single food or drink that is inherently bad for us. It would be even more difficult to find any single food or drink that will make us overweight if ingested in moderation. So, instead of demonizing people that are overweight and the foods that may or may not play a role in making them overweight, maybe we should be setting an example for our children by embracing moderation ourselves. Maybe we should show our children what it is to accept personal responsibility for the foods and drinks we consume, for better or for worse. Maybe, just maybe, we should be teaching our children that it isn’t about weight–it is about enjoying what we eat, but staying healthy enough to live long, fruitful lives.

Side Note:

Many people argue for the Nanny State against the idea of individual rights when it comes to obesity because, they claim, obese people are unhealthy and thus their medical costs are a burden to the rest of us. Assuming that this argument is valid, it still doesn’t hold water. Here is why: Eating disorders are extremely hard on the human body. From vitamin deficiencies disabling the immune system to esophageal damage and even death, eating disorders create innumerable medical costs. As a matter of fact, the mortality rate associated with anorexia is 12 times higher than the death rate associated with all causes of death for females 15-24 years old. (3) Thus, if we hold the Nanny State to its logic, they would have to start banning healthy, low fat foods right along side their banning of unhealthy, fattening foods. Before you know it, we won’t have any food at all.

(1) For a small sample:

http://www.atlassociety.org/brc/blog/2012/09/13/bloomberg-takes-sweetness-out-life

http://www.cato.org/blog/mayor-bloombergs-sweet-sugary-nanny-state

(3) http://www.anad.org/get-information/about-eating-disorders/eating-disorders-statistics/

(4) For a small sample:

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/americans-obese-2030-report-warns/story?id=17260134#.UUu9zTfCu3Q

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/48757019/ns/health-fitness/t/spending-technology-equals-more-obesity-study-shows/

http://www.wktv.com/news/local/Statistics-show-245-percent-of-NY-adults-obese-166168126.html

(5) http://www.carolinajournal.com/exclusives/display_exclusive.html?id=8762

Image Attribution:

http://www.jones4fitness.com (Anorexia/Bulimia image of girl with measuring tape)

http://www.femalemagazineonline.com (Mischa Barton)

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The Injustice of Vilifying Rape Victims

The recent trial and conviction of two Ohio teens for the rape of an unconscious female brings to light a number of questions, including: Why would somebody vilify a rape victim? Don’t people view the crime of rape as a violation of a person’s rights? And, quite frankly, where in the hell is the justice?

Jefferson_County_Courthouse_in_SteubenvilleThe two Ohio teens, both “stars” on the football team, were so popular, it seems, that the local authorities were hesitant to make a case against the rapists–even though there was a video of the attack. It required a hacking group, Anonymous, to hack the video of the rape in order to gain public attention for the case. Only after the subsequent public backlash did the authorities take action. (1)

The travesty of ignoring a violent crime for the sake of the perpetrators’ reputations didn’t end there and it didn’t stop with the local authorities. After the trial, some in the mainstream media added salt to the open wound when they sympathized with the convicted rapists, even lamenting: “It was incredibly emotional, incredibly difficult even for an outsider like me to watch what happened as these two young men that had such promising futures — star football players, very good students — we literally watched as they believe their life fell apart.” (2)

While both the local authorities (at least prior to the arrest) and many in the mainstream media sympathized with the plight of the rapists, so did a number of regular citizens; some simultaneously vilified the victim. For example, two teen girls were arrested for threatening the victim. (3) It should be noted that one of the girls is related to one of the rapists, but it doesn’t change the fact that he’s a rapist and the victim is a victim. A number of other people from across the country also blamed the victim. One such example is a DJ at the radio station 88.3 FM WXUT – Toledo, who tweeted that, to paraphrase, the victim was to blame for behaving improperly. (4)

Indian_subcontinent_CIAThis vitriolic response to a rape victim is not relegated to the United States; it is regretfully seen world-wide. In India, two recent cases of women being brutally gang-raped has caused a backlash from authorities as well as citizens criticizing the victims. (5) (6) This is just one international example. Pick a country–any country–and you’ll find a similar story.

So, why am I disgusted by the degradation of rape victims? Why am I infuriated at the coddling of rapists?

Our bodies are included under our inalienable rights to life, liberty, and our pursuit of happiness. Thus, in a free nation, where individual rights are upheld, your body belongs to you; my body belongs to me. This means that we get to decide with whom we have sexual relations and when. Only in a state of barbarism, where individual rights are not upheld are individuals forced to submit to unwanted sexual advances and condemned for being violated.

Constitution_signatures-smallIt doesn’t matter if you are a woman, man, teenager, or child; it doesn’t matter what geographical location you call home; it doesn’t matter what you claim as your political or religious beliefs; it doesn’t matter what your sexual orientation is; it doesn’t matter what amount of education you have or don’t; it doesn’t matter if you’ve made mistakes in your life or if you’ve lived as a saint. Nothing can change your right not to be sexually violated. And any sexual interaction that is forced upon you and, therefore, occurs without your consent, is a sexual violation. (Of course, there are circumstances where consent cannot be given, such as by children or the mentally disabled).

Justice demands that individual rights be protected–that is what our laws are for; that is what we have police and courts for. When a person is raped, his or her body has been horribly violated and this deserves justice–justice from the laws, police, and courts. And when the authorities ignore or chastise the victim for having been victimized, they are neglecting the duties they were charged with when they swore to uphold the law because that law is based on the protection of individual rights.

The media and the public are different in that they have not sworn to uphold any law as a part of their job. Also, as citizens in a free country, they are certainly afforded the right to speak their minds. However, every person in a free society is bound not to violate another person’s rights just as every other individual is bound not to violate their rights. Because of this, we should want other people to respect individual rights; we should want people to condemn those who violate those rights.

So what’s the moral to the story?

If we stand for the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, then we stand for these rights for everyone and we need to start acting like it. Between the injustice of the act of rape and the horrors suffered by the victim, our gentler sentiments should be saved for the victim. Likewise, we should save our horror and condemnation for the rapist for violating the rights of another person. Because, at the end of the day, if actions such as rape are not condemned, we risk them becoming viewed as acceptable by an unwritten rule.

References:

Please note that the articles are a bit graphic, though factual, in regards to explaining the crimes.

(1) http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2013/01/03/steubenville_ohio_rape_anonymous_gets_involved_and_the_case_gets_even_more.html

(2) http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/she-the-people/wp/2013/03/18/steubenville-the-media-and-rape-essentially/

(3) http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/mar/19/two-steubenville-ohio-girls-arrested-threatening-r/

(4) http://www.toledoblade.com/TV-Radio/2013/03/19/UT-disc-jockey-s-Steubenville-Twitter-comments-sparks-outrage.html

(5) http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/03/18/swiss-tourist-partially-to-blame-for-gang-rape-indian-police-say-as-six-men-appear-in-court-for-attack/

(6) http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57561187/indian-gang-rape-victim-dies-in-hospital/

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Why I’m Boycotting Steven Seagal

Steven_SeagalI’ve been a martial artist for more than three decades. Singing the praises of the benefits of the martial arts is second-nature to me: self-respect, self-confidence, self-defense. Just to name a few. And, I’ve enjoyed watching talented martial artists in movies over the years, even if the acting wasn’t always the best. The athleticism of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s jump spin crescent kick still makes me smile; Steven Seagal’s brand of aikido has always impressed me. Seagal’s fluidity of motion and speedy reaction-time prove his years of practice and dedication to his art.

More than not, I try to separate any celebrity’s personal life from his or her professional life. A good actor is a good actor, whether or not I agree with his political beliefs or how he handled his last divorce. However, I seem to have a threshold here. At some point, the celebrity’s personal life or beliefs become so abhorrent that it necessarily interferes with my view of his or her professional life. This is the case with Steven Seagal.

Putin_(cropped)According to this Reuter’s article, Steven Seagal openly attended and supported an event in Russia with Vladimir Putin. The event was for Putin’s announcement that he intended to implement a nationalized fitness program that mimics Stalin’s Communist-era fitness requirements. The program will even hold “students’ performance under the system should be taken into account when universities consider applications.”

As a firm believer in individual rights as innate to all (reference US Bill of Rights), I reject Communism outright. Though, this situation is much more than a disagreement on political views. Stalin was arguably one of the most violent, evil leaders in the history of the world. The Russian gulags killed anywhere between 15 and 30 million people (1) — just stop and think for a second about that. The entire country of Greece doesn’t even have 15 million people. (2)

CroppedStalin1943Putin’s nationalized fitness program is a piece of the Communist pie that Stalin served his unfortunate citizens more than a half-century ago. And when one piece of pie is in place, it won’t be long before the other pieces follow. In other words, as history has proven over and over again, once a country begins to treat citizens as a collective rather than as individuals, individuals eventually lose their liberties and even their lives.

And yet, Steven Seagal stood in support of Putin and his Communistic plan. I simply cannot in good conscience support someone who supports such vicious liberty-killing policies–whatever country it is in. While Steven Seagal has the right to support whatever political vision he wishes, I have the right to disagree. For this reason, I will no longer spend my hard-earned money buying Steven Seagal movies. I will no longer waste my valuable time viewing his movies that happen to be on television. I am boycotting Steven Seagal.

Reference:

(1) http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/249117/Gulag

(2) https://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=d5bncppjof8f9_&met_y=sp_pop_totl&idim=country:GRC&dl=en&hl=en&q=greece%20population

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The “Nature” of Gun Control

LibertyBell, 1905 The Constitution of the United States secures every law-abiding citizen’s right to keep and bear arms without infringement. Yet today, 224 years after the Constitution was fully implemented as the supreme law of the land, there have been a number of laws passed and bills proposed to curtail law-abiding citizens’ right to bear arms.

Why are we curtailing the rights of law-abiding citizens? What has changed in the last two centuries? I think one of the most fundamental changes is our view of human nature. It had taken the whole of man’s history to culminate in the founding of this country, where individual liberties were hailed as innate and good and, therefore, essential to a thriving society. There was a beneficent view of human nature, so much so that each man was deemed worthy of the same inalienable rights as kings (presidents).

Constitution_signatures-smallFor the Founding Fathers, not only should law-abiding citizens be able to protect themselves and their families when needed, but they could be trusted to act responsibly with their rights. This beneficent view of human nature was the foundation upon which they constructed the Constitution, securing every law-abiding citizen’s inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness–and the right to bear arms in order to defend these rights (e.g., self-defense against an armed intruder in your home).

Contrary to the words and deeds of the Founding Fathers, today the rights of law-abiding citizens are being curtailed. Even if a person has never owned a gun, he is now only allowed to purchase certain kinds of guns and a certain amount of ammunition in many places. The implication from this is that if law-abiding citizens have a certain kind of weapon or own too much ammunition, then they will misuse them. From this perspective, the individual is corruptible; he will be driven to horrendous crimes such as armed robbery and murder if he possesses a gun that fires too quickly or if he has 50 more rounds than he is legally permitted.Thus, the recent legislation curtailing the right to bear arms has a much darker view of human nature than the view held by the Founding Fathers. The modern, pessimistic view of man’s nature says that law-abiding citizens cannot be trusted with their fundamental right to bear arms.

Browning_with_his_BAR - smallOne problem with this pessimistic theory of man’s nature is that certain groups of individuals are exempt, such as the police and the military who are still afforded full rights to keep and bear arms. I call this a “problem” because what are policemen and military personnel other than citizens like the rest of us? If you and I are susceptible to corruption by certain weapons and amounts of ammunition, then aren’t they just as susceptible? If so, shouldn’t their rights be curtailed equally? If not, it is imperative that we discover how these men and women retained their strong, honorable natures while the rest of us have come to possess weak, corruptible natures.

Another problem with this condemnation of man’s nature is that if law-abiding citizens can’t be trusted with one of their natural rights, then why should they be trusted with the rest of their rights? If our natures are so susceptible to harmful behavior, then any one of us would be capable saying something cruel and abusive to another person. Thus, shouldn’t our rights to free speech be curtailed?

Sound like a slippery slope? Where human nature is condemned, it can’t be anything else.

I have to wonder if we have really lost the optimism of the Founding Fathers? Can it be true that we are so afraid of our own natures that we have begun to willingly hand our rights over to other individuals–strangers–who are no more and no less human than ourselves? For this country’s sake, for every citizen who lives here, I certainly hope not.

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Daylight Savings in the Modern World?

Schwarzwald_Uhr_Kupferstiche-ClockYes, I know. Set the clocks ahead one hour tonight. As a friend of mine wisely noted today, “All of these reminders to set my clock 1 hour forward. Too bad we didn’t have Facebook in the ’80s. My smartphone and computer automatically takes care of these things now.” Welcome to the modern world!.

But all of this begs the question. Why on earth do we, like clockwork, set the clocks forward and backward every year?

BenFranklinDuplessis

A brief history of daylight savings time:

1. Founding Father Benjamin Franklin encouraged changing the clocks in order to save on candles. (1)

Response: I’m not sure about you, but I have a few dozen candles I would like to be rid of. Thank you electricity.

2. It was used during WWII to conserve energy. (1)

Response: Again, we have this problem of historic necessity. Just in case it was in doubt: WWII is over.

The real question is: are there are any good reasons to continue daylight savings time in the modern world. The predominant reasons given for daylight savings are the same reasons given historically–to save money and energy. And who doesn’t want to save money and energy? But, the cheerleader “rah, rah save energy and money” theme needs more than words; it needs outcomes.

Does daylight savings time (in actuality) save us money or energy? The answer seems to be no for both. Most studies show little or no energy savings with daylight savings time. According to one study, “In Indiana, daylight saving time caused a 1 percent jump in electricity.” (2)

If we aren’t saving energy, we aren’t saving money. If we are saving neither time nor money, then the reasons for daylight savings time are moot.

Interesting tidbit: States are not required by federal law to participate in daylight savings time. Hawaii and Arizona are the lucky two states that have chosen not to participate.

References:

(1)  http://news.discovery.com/human/health/why-do-we-have-daylight-savings-time.htm

(2) http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Energy-Voices/2013/0308/Daylight-saving-time-Can-springing-ahead-save-energy-or-money