Thursday, January 13, 2022

Some Life Lessons over Half a Century

 A few things I have learned over the course of 51 years:

- We do not know nearly as much as we think we know about anything, especially in the area of what we are pleased to call "science."

- Our trust in worldly institutions is usually misplaced.

- In our day, much of what we are taught to do or avoid doing in order to lead a fulfilling life goes against our nature as God designed it.  This is at the heart of why so many people are so miserable.

- We cannot change our nature.

- We, who are imperfect, cannot by our own efforts perfect ourselves or society.  Nemo dat qui non habet (one cannot give what one does not have).

- Legal positivism, excessive risk aversion, monumental egoism and leftist politics are real plagues in the legal profession.  Put lawyers and judges in charge of anything and they quickly turn tyrannical.

- Anything prefaced with "In an abundance of caution..." is automatically suspect.

- A criminal justice system that is both focused on rehabilitation and divorced from the Social Kingship of Christ is an exercise in futility.  It tries to convert people without Jesus Christ, which is impossible.  Because it undertakes to do that which is impossible, it ends up relying more and more on intrusion, coercion and brute force over long periods of time.  As C.S. Lewis observed in That Hideous Strength, simple punishment for crime must be finite, but there is no limit to what you can put people through, and for how long, in the name of "rehabilitation."

- God didn't make us for impertinence, but He also didn't make us for blind obedience.  He gave us our five senses to receive information with, He gave us brains to think with, and He gave us true doctrine against which to measure the justice of our rulers' commands.  Having given us all these, He expects us to use them.

- It is imperative that we recapture our good, pre-modern customs and traditions of Church and State.  There was never a good reason for getting rid of them, as we are now learning, to our cost.

- Getting rid of kings has not redounded to our freedom.  Instead of being ruled by one Christian man who fears going to hell for misruling his people, we are ruled by a cadre of godless oligarchs who do not even believe there is a hell, much less fear going there.

- Getting rid of religion has not redounded to our freedom.  To be free from moral restraints is to be enslaved to our passions and appetites.  When our neighbors are also free from moral restraints, then we need to be afraid of what they might do to us, since there is no reason for them not to do whatever they want.

- The destroyers of law, custom and tradition are the ones responsible for divisions in our society, not those who resist the destroyers.  The destroyers always blame their opponents for what they themselves are doing.

- Every good thing, every rightly-ordered pleasure, every bit of innocent fun, everything warm and cozy and beautiful, is a foretaste of heaven.  This includes the pleasure of our senses: delicious foods well-prepared and lovingly garnished; good drink (including spirits); the warmth of a fire; lovely decorations; good music; the enjoyment of good company; holidays and holy days.  God gave us all these things, not for us to abuse and not as ends in themselves, but to cheer us up and to spur us on to stay on course for that which they represent.  Those who seek to deprive us of these things hate the joys in which they do not share because they do not love and are slaves to vice.  They hate the hope of heaven, of which they despair because they think there is no heaven.  They hate the people who possess the hope of heaven, and, most of all, they hate God.  These are the people now ruling us in Church and State, and their evil must be resisted.    

- The authentic Catholic faith is the one thing that works every time it is tried, and also the one thing people will go out of their way to avoid trying.

- Fears are very often a symptom of and a distraction from something more important that we need to be dealing with.  Very often, the important thing we are distracting ourselves from is a bad conscience.

- Many of our fears are not as rational as we think they are.  Acting on them could bring about a worse result than the one we fear.

- There must be some kind of pleasure or security in being afraid, since many of us guard our fears jealously and even angrily, and won't hear a word said against them.

- If you are mortally afraid of something that is going on in the world, it is necessary to take a deep breath, step back and look at the big picture.  Questions you should ask yourself include: what do you know and not know about the thing you fear?  Are you getting your information about it from personally witnessing it, or do you know only what others tell you about it?  Is the information you are getting about it calculated to drive your behavior and your emotions in a particular direction?  Who would benefit from your going in that particular direction, and who would be hurt?  Is this direction moral or immoral?  Are you getting contradictory information?  What objective markers of credibility does each piece of information have that you are getting about this thing that you fear?  Is there any objective reason to disbelieve the information?  Are you being asked to compromise your beliefs or principles?

- What is unclear must be evaluated in the light of what is clear -- not the other way around.

- There are a lot of people who cannot distinguish between what is relevant in any given situation, and what is not relevant.

- Substituting one negative emotion for another is a defense against vulnerability.  I have noticed, for example, that I substitute anger for sorrow.  This is really not a healthy way to deal with sorrow.

- There really are people in the world who live to create chaos and give others pain, purely for the fun of it. The more godless our society is, the more of this kind of people there are.

- Fr. Chad Ripperger says that when someone tries to manipulate you by heaping abusive criticism on you, you should never engage him in an argument on the merits of the criticism, because then that just validates it as a subject of discussion.  Instead, you should tell him that if he has a problem with your appearance, or your weight, or whatever, then that is his problem and not yours.  Another method for dealing with manipulators that I have found effective is to call them on the precise manipulation technique they are trying to deploy, and flatly refuse to play their game.  Both of these methods have the effect of refusing the load of garbage the abuser is trying to burden you with and putting it back on him, where it belongs.

- Some classic techniques manipulators use: gaslighting; accusing you of what they themselves are doing; deliberately doing things they know hurt or annoy you, then accusing you of not being able to take a joke; blaming you for their problems and making you the issue; stampeding you by creating an "emergency" for you to have to deal with; raging at you for no discernible reason; cutting you off from family and friends; deliberately wasting your time on pointless tasks; questioning you minutely in order to catch you out in inconsistencies, then attacking you on them; giving you inconsistent statements to create confusion, and then denying the inconsistency and blaming you for the confusion; sending mixed messages; sucking you into a vortex of imponderables and then attacking you for your inability to resolve them; threatening you with some adverse consequence if you don't do what they want.  Manipulation techniques have the net effect of creating confusion, sapping your time and energy, and bringing you under their control.  It does zero good to argue with these people.  The thing to do when someone treats you this way is to refuse to play their game and then have as little to do with them as possible.  No one who really loves you will ever treat you in these ways.  The ultimate manipulators are of course the devils.

- Bullies need to be faced down and resisted until they back down.  Bullies don't expect pushback, or at least don't expect it past a certain point, so when they get it, they don't know what to do.  Bullies are basically cowards who target those they perceive to be weaker than they are.  By fearing bullies, we give them power over us.

- Evils frequently come in pairs, ostensibly opposed to each other, so that, in our excessive zeal to stamp out one, we will be driven to embrace the other.

- The notion of principled atheism is a myth.  The idea is clean contrary to Scripture, specifically, St. Paul, who, in the first chapter of Romans, says that God's justice, power and divinity are made manifest in the created order, so that those who claim not to know him are without excuse; and Psalms 13 and 52, where King David says that the fool says in his heart there is no God, and they are become corrupt and abominable in their ways.  At the root of atheism is not reason, but trauma, or an attachment to some vice, or both.

- If you won't have Jesus Christ as your Lord, and His Blessed Mother as your Lady who intercedes for you with Him, there is no limit to the inferiority of the substitutes you will accept instead.  You will even consent to have every facet of your life governed by the dictates of people who not only should not be listened to, but should be tried for crimes against humanity.  

- It is critically important to pray every single day, especially first thing in the morning.  The daily Rosary is a necessity.  We cannot have light to see where we are going if we do not pray.

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