Why is Freedom Important?

It is to safeguard our ability to choose and do that which is good.

To defend freedom in the name of freedom only – the right to do whatever we want because we want to – is to be morally bankrupt, destructive to the world God created for us and at odds with “natural law”.

If we commit unspeakable acts of violence and evil in the name of freedom, we have no moral basis for the defense of “freedom”. We fight not for freedom, but for personal greed and dominance.

The dirty little secret that The American people have bought into, the elephant in the room that we choose to ignore, is that the empire we support through endless wars of conquest disproportionately benefits us vs the rest of the world. As the empire crumbles and the benefits that trickle down from the elite to the masses wane, the masses will wake up, not out of righteous indignation, but out of a displaced sense of loss. The gravy train has been good. We have collectively turned a blind eye to our wars of aggression waged in the name of freedom, or as G.W. Bush euphemistically said it, “our way of life”. Is our way of life just an excuse for conquest and plunder?
These are my thoughts as I considered the following interview from The Real News.

I believe that the mission and message of our little community, the Village on Sewanee Creek, should be about freedom in its fullest and best sense – the freedom to do positive good. Not as “do-gooders”out to reform everyone else, but people quietly reforming our own lives in harmony with that which is good.
The American paradigm we live within has focused our thinking to be against or at war with almost everything. There are wars against poverty, drugs, inequality, injustice, terrorism, illegal immigration, and on and on. A war mentality breeds anger, dissension and more war.

What is the antidote for a world that is continuously at war at every level? Christ taught us to repent. Repent of your acceptance of all forms of war. Champion freedom for the sole purpose of thinking and doing positive good. Repent of your natural inclination to justify evil in the name of false, self-serving good. When we learn to focus all of our thoughts and actions on doing that which is good and productive and always rejecting that which is harmful or destructive, our lives will be full of light, joy and peace.

I write this with no personal sense of moral satisfaction, for I am as guilty as anyone of self-serving thoughts and behaviors that justify evil in the name of false good. When we stop focusing on the greed of others (Wall Street, corporations, politicians, etc.) we may begin to recognize our own complicity in a system, built from the ground up on self-interest, a nicer word for greed. Christ identified the problem in His mote/beam parable.

I desire to live among people who don’t see themselves as righteous or good, but humbly seek to become so through striving for that which is good – people who are continuously in an active process of repentance – or reaching upward for the light. I hope that being with such people, I will be inspired and strengthened to repent myself.

The world will become a better place not through conquest of others but by conquest of oneself.

Regardless of our circumstances or the political system we live within,  we are all, ALWAYS, free to do that.

At the intersection of Christianity, Libertarianism and Sustainable Energy

The Solar Industry, even with unprecedented subsidies in the US and abroad,  is struggling.  In a second term Obama administration, what is the outlook for Sustainable Energy?  Read this for an industry insider’s perspective.  In closing, the writer makes this plea.

“It is absolutely critical – whether or not you have a new legislator – that you and your team introduce yourself to them,” Resch agreed. “Make sure they know they have a solar company in their district.”

It’s hard to be a libertarian purist.  As a matter of principle, a libertarian refuses to be part of the corruption, pork-barrel politics and influence-buying that is our government.  I acknowledge that is how the game is and always has been played.  Refusing to play it that way puts me at a distinct disadvantage.

There are more paradoxes.  I want to be self-sufficient.  Solar can be a source of “free”, liberating energy.  With enough innovation and scale, solar can be an economically viable solution, freeing me from the tyranny of the military- industrial-governmental complex.  I want the solar industry to succeed.  But I want it to do so in a free market without the distortions created by government meddling.

We are losing that battle.  But, as they say, “all politics is local”.

What can I do?  That which is important; Maintain my personal sense of integrity and support that which is good in the world.  How to be “in the world, but not of the world”?  John 17    Isn’t that the Christian struggle between good and evil?

Who is John Galt?  Where is Galt’s Gulch    Hint.

 

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If I wanted to Save America

  • I would start with me.
  • I would focus on my strengths, I would strengthen my self-sufficiency.  I would prepare for whatever might come my way.
  • I would assert my independence, my freedom to do what I believe to be right.
  • I would listen carefully for what God wants me to do and be.
  • I would “BE the change I want to see.”
  • I would join with or build a community made up of  people who can convince me that they truly want to be what I want to be.
  • I would watch their backs and expect them to watch mine.
  • I would teach others to be strong, to have courage and hope.
  • I would stop whining about the Federal government, because it’s past what I can change, but I would change what I can, locally.
  • I would “Act like an American, the kind of American that my father and Grandfather and their forefathers were.

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If I wanted America to Fail

This video has gone viral.
But it offers no solutions.
Focus on action, not fear.

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What kind of American are you?

Watch this for another shot of courage. . . and wisdom

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Top 100 Movies for Troubled Times

The Art of Manliness is an outstanding website for men.  It features traditional values and advice on how to be a real man. Here is their list of the top 100 essential movies for Men.  I own and love most of the movies on the list, but there isn’t much there for women, nor are all it’s movies essential for our troubled times.  Soooo…..

Many years ago, I was Director of International Development for Blockbuster Video. That was in the days before Blockbuster was made obsolete by the internet, Netflix, Red Box, VUDU, Youtube, etc. We were goin’ and blowin’ then. I digress.  The point is, I developed a love for great movies.  Years later, that led me to put in a good sized dedicated home theater with a performing stage in our home in Atlanta. We had many wonderful experiences with other families and their kids, either watching and discussing great movies or making up and performing plays and reader’s theater on the stage.

One very special memory is of a teaching moment when I sat all my kids down to watch the movie, Gandhi. I kept the remote in hand.  After each significant scene, I paused the movie and we taught and discussed an important life lesson. Gandhi is a long movie.  With discussion and some breaks, it took a good part of the day to get through it. The time could not have been better spent. It’s times like those that I am most proud. Times that paid great dividends in the lives of my now adult children.

Those experiences led to my commitment to build the amphitheater stage with outdoor theater in the Village. The physical facilities are there and we have enjoyed movies under the stars many times, but my dream is, as yet, unfulfilled. So far, the theater has been used mostly for entertainment. I miss the deep discussions. I’ll keep looking for those opportunities to learn and share like we used to with our kids and close friends in Atlanta.

This brings me back to the top 100 movies for men list. It occurred to me that we should develop a top 100 list for the Village.  Not sure what we should call it yet. Maybe something like the “Top 100 Movies for Troubled Times.”  It should be made up of movies that:

  • Teach about character and positive values (either through positive or negative examples showing consequences of bad choices).
  • Provide perspective for our troubled times (Dealing well with adversity.  History is a great teacher of perspective as we repeat past mistakes.)
  • Give us strength and courage to persevere in difficult times.
  • Show great role models for healthy social interaction – How to treat one another with dignity, respect, trust, and love.
  • Teach practical solutions to real problems. Time proven survival skills and strategies.
  • Give inspiring examples of freedom-loving people with an independent spirit; people who are self-reliant, hard-working and willing to fight for their freedom.
  • Inspire us to be better,do more, be more creative and stronger.

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I’ve already done a top 80 list from my personal catalog,
but then it’s just my list.   I could use some help getting to the best 100.
All you “like-minded” people out there, post a comment with your top 10
or more.
I’ll take the best from your lists, combine them with mine and share the best of the best.
As a starter, here are 10 that I think should make the list

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Gandhi (no surprises here)

It is impossible to capture the life of any man in one film, much less the life of a man who saw and did as much as Mahatma Gandhi. Thus the filmmakers who tried to capture his life on the silver screen sought not to give a blow by blow account of Gandhi’s life, but instead to capture his spirit in what they did show. The film begins with Gandhi’s assassination and then starts the retrospective of his life, beginning with his being thrown off a train for being Indian, and through his non-violent efforts to win Indians their rights and then their independence. One man truly can free an entire nation, if not change the entire world.

Best line: “They may torture my body, break my bones, even kill me, then they will have my dead body. NOT MY OBEDIENCE!”

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Defiance

Jewish brothers in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe escape into the Belarussian forests, where they join Russian resistance fighters.   They provide leadership and protection to about 1,000 Jewish non-combatants who have fled to the woods, build a Village, learn to survive and fight off the Nazi army.

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Life is Beautiful

With humor and an indomitable, positive attitude, a Jewish man wins the love of a beautiful woman.
With inspiring courage and discipline, he must call on the same qualities to protect his son in a Nazi death camp.

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The Kite Runner

After spending years in California, a soft and pampered Amir returns to his homeland in Afghanistan to help his old friend Hassan, whose son is in trouble.  It’s a story of sacrifice, deprivation and danger as he risks his life against a deeply corrupt and depraved regime.

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Groundhog Day

On it’s surface, Groundhog Day is just another comedy. But if you delve deeper, you’ll find a story that drives home some profound messages. Bill Murray is Phil Connors, a cynical egotistical weatherman who annoys just about everyone and gets stuck living the same day over and over. It’s Groundhog Day. We don’t know how long Phil is stuck in this purgatory of repetition. Maybe a month.  Maybe a thousand years.  From Phil’s plight we learn that real change in life can only come from within us.  It’s a movie about the slow and agonizing process self-improvement, known in some circles as repentance.

Best line: “I’m a god.” “You’re God?” “I’m a god. I’m not *the* God… I don’t think.”

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Cover of

Sommersby

Set in the deep south immediately after the Civil War, Laurel Sommersby is barely surviving, working the farm without her husband Jack, who is believed dead in the war. Jack Sommersby was an abusive, coarse man, so his return is unwelcome to Laurel, who has been seeing another, kinder man.  But Jack has changed a great deal.   Some, especially Laurel’s suitor, believe that this is not actually Jack but an imposter. Laurel herself is unsure, but takes the man into her home and learns to love him.  This is a story of reformation, integrity and supreme sacrifice under conditions of extreme poverty.

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Ikiru

A Japanese bureaucrat tries to find meaning to his life after he is diagnosed with terminal cancer.  He must learn courage and take up a  respectful, yet dogged struggle against the bureaucracy to right previous wrongs and injustices.

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Braveheart

Mistake #1: Primae Noctis? Are you crazy, Long Shanks?
Mistake #2: Slicing up William Wallace’s woman? Are you asking to get your fort burned down? Never hack off a Scotsman.
Mel Gibson’s portrayal of the battle painted warrior poet William Wallace is easily one of the greatest heroes in all of movie history.

Best line: “Every man dies, not every man really lives.”

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City of Joy

Dr. Max Lowe (Patrick Swayze) abruptly deserts his practice as a surgeon and falls into depression.  He flees to Calcutta, India to lose himself, but finds Joan Bethel, a local social worker and discovers the joy of unselfish service and a life with meaning.  He makes friends with a family in desperate need.  Hazari Pal and his family are desperately poor, having been swindled out of all their money.  Hazari takes a job working for a local godfather, but things go from bad to worse.  Dr. Lowe finds himself in the middle of brutal suppression.  He steps into the breech to defend Hazari’s family at great personal risk.

Best Line:  “How long are you going to keep drilling holes in the ocean?”

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Jericho (TV Series)

A series of terrorist attacks leaves the US in a state of disaster.  The small Kansas town of Jericho must come together to deal with a new reality.  Along the way, they unravel a massive government conspiracy, organize a militia, fight off desperate neighboring towns, but most of all, learn to trust and work with old friends and rivals.
It’s TEOTWAWKI.  Deal with it!

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Sharing, teaching and reinforcing positive values through the arts can make our Village(s) better prepared for times that are tough or even if they’re not.

 

Individual Freedom vs. Unchecked Power. Where is the balance?


I would like to share a discussion string from our community website, “Friends of Sewanee Creek”  Names, other than my own, and emphasis have been changed.

Grant shared an article on 06/13/2011 07:06:20 am
Whoa!! And I thought it was a good thing to be considered a “sustainable developer”.


Jodi – 06/15/2011 01:40:06 pm
Will watch Glenn Beck and Pass the Video to MANY. Thank You!

Debbie  6/18/2011 00:05:37 am
Agenda 21 is very disturbing.
Glenn Beck discussed Agenda 21 on June 15, 2011

Ben  06/20/2011 03:34:03 pm
This is my first introduction to Agenda 21 so I am very unfamiliar with the details but the concept of social engineering is nothing new. I think China is a good example of this with the one child policy. In this case you have a country that is facing a huge ecological mess (pollution, water shortages, decreasing arable land from desertification) where a government steps in and attempts to avert having natural factors like starvation or disease controlling population growth by implementing a law to control population growth.

Again I am unfamiliar with the details of this particular “agenda” but I think it is a reality that increasing numbers of humans in the emerging markets pushing into western middle class lifestyles is going to pose some ecological challenges to the planet. Historical notions of sovereignty create complications when dealing with issues like nuclear disasters, disease, or climate change which do not respect borders. I think many of us see this as the nuclear meltdown in Japan directly affects our welfare.

How does the world begin to deal with these larger transnational issues?

Grant Miller – 06/21/2011 06:41:28 am
Good comment, Ben. It strikes me as both thoughtful and brave, two qualities I admire greatly.

Clearly, as the world shrinks and technology increases the power of mankind to foul his own nest (as well as that of his neighbors) the need for some form of control increases. This need is at the heart of your question.

The dilemma lies in the fact that corruption is endemic to power. I keep coming back to the well worn quote, “Power Corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” How do you have a global government where there is no higher recourse without sacrificing liberty and enslaving the world? Of more immediate concern, why would we want to turn that government over to those who have already proven themselves to be thoroughly corrupt?

I am among a growing population that recognizes the behavior of world, US and local leaders as nothing short of self-serving thuggery. People of all political persuasions are increasingly recognizing that national resources and the wealth of the people have been plundered by those with the power to do so. It is increasingly clear that there is collusion between people with their hands on the levers of power whether at the point of a gun (military or police), through government (congress, parliament, unelected bureaucrats, presidents/kings/czars/dictators) or through sophisticated financial manipulation (Powerful Corporations, Global Banks, Wall Street/The City). Many bury their collective heads in the sand, pretending that none of this exists by labeling it “conspiracy theory”. Thinking people are not cowed by this thinly veiled insult. They recognize that we are all subject to our selfish interests and that as power approaches the absolute, corruption is guaranteed.

The genius of our founding fathers was in their recognition of these facts. Their solution, indeed the only solution that has worked since the beginning of mankind was simple and elegant. To limit all kinds of thuggery, power itself must be limited, checked and controlled.

Ben, you just asked the right question in a forum where you might have perceived a risk of being shouted down. That is brave. In doing so, you elevated the conversation. There is great power in thoughtful, honest questions.  We all owe you a big thank you.

Frankly, I don’t know the answer to your question. I wish I did. The only level at which I think I have an answer is the local one, precisely because I have no power at the global or any other level. But I do believe that if enough people will exercise the power that they do have, locally, to live a thoughtful, wise, brave, chaste and righteous life, the world would change for the better. That is because people with unlimited power have it only to the extent the masses give it to them.

My dream for the Village is that we will have people here who desperately want to live their lives and surround themselves with others of like mind and commitment to virtuous character. Until that small kernel grows into something more powerful, we will at least provide ourselves a measure of insulation from a world that is out of control due to the greed and lust of all-powerful men.

Principles for a Strong, Free Community

Cover of "The 5000 Year Leap (Original Au...

Cover via Amazon

I’m reading, thanks to some friends of Sewanee Creek, an insightful book that chronicles the creation of the United States. It is called The 5000 Year Leap. by Cleon Skousen.

There have been many aha moments, but I just read the opening lines to the 7th principle of freedom: the proper role of Government. It resonated so strongly with me that I felt compelled to jump on the computer and share it.

Under the bold header, “What Powers Can Be Assigned to Government” it reads,The founders recognized that the people cannot delegate to their government the power to do anything except that which they have the lawful right to do themselves.”

My experience in business management taught me that this is a true principle. In many ways I have always been a bit of a contrarian, preferring to march to the beat of my own drum and driven by strongly held, biblical principles of right and wrong. Often, in the course of my employment, I found that my principles were at odds with those in higher authority. On a couple of occasions I tried to institute change from a grass roots level. That approach invariably landed me in hot water and confirmed to me that this is a true principle. In a corporation, those who have position power will have their way, that is as long as they are clever enough to exercise and maintain power, as they usually are upon reaching a high or ownership position.

That understanding emanates from business experience, which can/should be very different from government of a democratic republic.  But the underlying principle is eternal and immutable. You can not delegate power that you do not have.  In the domain of government, where in America our underlying assumption is of a government for and by the people, the application can become circular and confusing until one inserts the concept of God-given, unalienable rights. These rights and the power that proceeds from them are few and broad, but must be tightly defined.

To return to my business analogy, as a mid-level manager, I had neither the right nor the power to institute change within an organization that I did not own or been delegated rights and powers, regardless of my sense of right and wrong. As stated elsewhere in this great book, rights stem from ownership. Where I disagreed with my superiors my options were, (a) execute exactly as I was directed, (b) convince those in authority of a better way or (c) resign and find a place to work more closely aligned with my values.

Only when rights of ownership and true authority are respected can an organization of any sort reach the potential to achieve the purpose for which it was created. If it is true that the rights of government of the USA are vested only in the people, it is clear that there has been a boardroom coupe.  America is ruled by unelected bureaucrats who report indirectly to hands-off elected officials who have made themselves unaccountable to those who should be vested with power, the people.  But the people have become deservedly dis-empowered because of their witless incompetence in the exercise of their power. Anyone who has participated in boardroom politics will recognize that only those who exercise their power with wisdom and clever insight will retain power. Even owner/founders are routinely deposed by hired managers. The American people have lost power because they have failed to exercise their true, God-given power.  God giveth and the government taketh away.  America is no longer a Republic.  It is a corporation, ruled by hired managers.

I want to relate this back to something more local, as that is all I feel empowered to speak of with any confidence any more. The Village values individual freedom and rights. Rights stem from ownership. Ownership should be the result of honest thought, labor and investment. This is why individual (not communal) property ownership is a keystone to successful community whether at the Village or Nation/State level. That is why the Village on Sewanee Creek is different from most “intentional communities” that typically end up in flames because they are often built on a utopian socialist, common-ownership model.

It is a little understood fact that the constitution of the United States was not ratified or even drafted till years after the successful conclusion of the revolution. Similarly, I have felt it inappropriate to impose homeowner association bylaws for the Village which should be the product of land owners within the village. George Washington declined the offer to become a king. He was a public servant in the best sense. I desire to do the same. My wife and I own most of the Village property now. But when it is sold, I am a Villager, created equal and with equal rights to other Villagers.

For those who might be interested in a model for government of the Village (not to mention the Republic of the USA) read The 5000 Year Leap.

We have extra land. Anybody want to farm it?

Food security is the ultimate liberty.  If you can do it in  urban NYC, you can do it anywhere.  For some more inspiration, watch this YouTube video.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDxBEUOImjI

The Village on Sewanee Creek is about 750 rural acres on Tennessee’s lush Cumberland Plateau.  Of that, about 80 acres is cleared land that could be farmed.  Some of it is.  (The balance is either in deep woods or in a deep rugged canyon nature preserve) We have already built a community raised bed garden.  But there’s more.  Either on lots currently owned by Villagers, but as yet unfarmed or on unsold lots.

Want to farm but need land?  We have it and we can help you learn to farm.  Call us at (931) 442-1444.