The easiest way to know if you are participating in evil is this:
Are you participating in lies?
The results of your actions will speak for themselves.
Are things better, or are things worse?
We all know the standard for truth
The whole truth…
And nothing but the truth.”
Tell the truth, tell the whole truth, and add nothing to the truth.
We can tell the truth but leave out important details, and we are still participating in evil. We are still lying.
We can tell the whole truth, and add falsehood, changing the entire meaning, and participate in evil.
Pretty simple, and yet…
Have you ever stopped looking for information when you found something that confirmed what you wanted to find?
Have you ever shared, posted, talked about or forwarded something that did not meet the standard for truth?
Partial and embellished truths are the most insidious.
Because they contain just enough truth to make them believable, especially when we are looking to confirm our biases.
After a lifetime of indoctrination of the “patriarchy”, many women find all the proof they need in a graphic of the “gender pay gap”.
It’s just that the information does not tell the entire story, is just supports the bias, which in our world today, is more than enough.
We spread anger that feels righteous, except that it is based on lies.
We take actions that feel like an appropriate response to the lies, and make things much worse.
Rational people become irrational, and do ugly things, like indoctrinate the next generation into more of the same lies.
The results are in: This is not working.
We are being emotionally manipulated.
Divided into small, ineffective groups.
Torn apart by lies.
The question is: Why?
Because it gets us angry which gets us off the couch, energized, mobilized, and might just get us to vote.
But we are voting for a lie.
Do we really want to vote for the people that are emotionally manipulating us, and lying to us?
There are two sides of the issue: thus, as always, the need for balance. We are clamoring for a “solution” to the mass school shootings. And why wouldn’t we?
Here at balanced thought, we try to stop the little monster in our stomach from taking control of our thoughts and actions, so that we are better equipped to think issues through. We know that none of us make our best choices when our little monster is controlling things. This does not make us evil, it makes us rational (or at least maybe a bit more rational).
According to an article by The Washington Post , updated on 2/16/2018 to include the most recent mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on 2/14/2018, there have been 150 mass shootings (four or more people killed in a single event) since what The Washington Post has marked as the first mass shooting in 1966.
We DEMAND this stop, and now. We want ACTION, no… We demand action.
Of course we do.
We are angry.
We are afraid.
We have been attacked.
We just want this to stop.
And our little monster is running things, which is exactly what our little monster is supposed to be doing right now.
Our little monster takes charge when we are under attack.
Our little monster defends us, helps us run fast, or freeze solid to avoid detection.
The little monster is about brain stem survival functioning, not higher thinking.
But let’s make sure we are making the best choices for the situation, not the placation of our collective little monsters. Using the data provided by The Washington Post, there have been 1,077 people killed in 150 mass shootings since 1966. That is a span of 51 years.
That means that we have averaged just over 21 deaths by mass shooting per year over those 51 years. As a point of comparison, an average of 53 to 100 or more people die in the US every year from bee stings according to The Conversation.
On average, the chances that you die of a bee sting are 2.5 to 5 times greater than the chances that you die from a mass shooting.
These numbers do not seem to support the current call for mass cultural action.
But, perhaps we should take the numbers from 2017, using the same Washington Post article, which states that in 2017 there were eight mass shootings that killed a total of 117 people.
The high number of deaths are impacted greatly by the Las Vegas shooting where 59 people died; just over half of the 2017 total.
The Las Vegas shooting was the worst in history, having nine more fatalities than the Pulse Nightclub shooting in 2016.
Using the 2017 numbers and the total US population in 2017 of 324,459,463 you have a .000036% chance of being killed in a mass shooting.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there were 37,461 motor vehicle deaths in 2016. Using 2016 US population numbers (322,179,605) you have a .01163% chance of being killed in a car accident.
This indicates that your chance of dying in a car accident is over 322 times greater than the chance of dying in a mass shooting.
Again, the numbers do not seem to point to a need for huge changes.
According to Wikipedia.org, there were “33,636 deaths due to ‘injury by firearms’” in the US in 2013.
Using the same Insurance Institute for Highway Safety resource, there were 32,719 car related deaths in 2013, with a population of 316,128,839.
With these numbers we see that your chance of dying in a car related incident, whether deliberate or accidental, is 2.8% lower than your chance of dying in a gun incident, whether deliberate or accidental.
The cost of lives from guns and cars are remarkably similar. The question for society is: what is the value of cars and guns versus the risk to people?
If the argument is simply a matter of the cost in lives, and society decides that the lives are simply not worth the value of the tools, it would seem both cars and guns should be removed from our society.
But there is value in cars. We need transportation, and any and every action has inherent risk.
Is there any value in guns?
“It is a dangerous business… going out your door…” J.R.R. Tolkien
Even staying home has inherent risk. According to ASecureLife.com, there are over 18,000 deaths every year from accidents at home. Indeed, you need not even venture out your door. Being at home leads to just over half the number of deaths every year as deaths involving guns each year. It would seem that death itself is unavoidable.
And that is the point.
We will never be able to legislate away all the risks involved with every action in life. And no, it is not fair. It never was fair, and it never will be fair.
All decisions involve trade-offs.
If you go to the movies, you spend a little money, it is going to take some of your time, you may not like the movie, you may have some kid (or adult) kicking your seat the whole time, it may be your new favorite movie. Perhaps it is the best time of your life, you meet that perfect someone, and live happily ever after.
The “if it would save one life” argument is rooted in irrational thinking that we can somehow beat death by passing laws. We can’t.
Crazy people will do crazy things. Bad luck happens. Unfortunate timing, poor choices, accidents.
None of us gets out alive. It is a trade off: The very essence of Balanced Thought.
How much freedom versus how much risk?
Fireworks or no fireworks?
Alcohol or no alcohol?
Most of us understand the intrinsic value of cars. We trade some risk, grime and pollution for our ability to get around. We count on the person in the oncoming traffic not to steer into our lane. We spend money on the car, the upkeep, the gas, keeping it clean.
We get some freedom with some risk.
On balance, we as a society have decided the tradeoff for cars works, so we accepted 32,719 car related deaths in 2013. A number very close to the number of gun related deaths the same year.
But what do we gain from guns? Anything? Some enjoy hunting or sport shooting like sporting clays, skeet, birds or game.
But are the deaths, greater than the deaths from cars, worth the trade off?
Many of us are saying “no”. So why do we have the second amendment?
Were those crazy old white men that came up with this crazy constitution just, well… crazy?
Here is the counter argument, and the actual reason that the crazy white men put the second amendment into the constitution. They understood that the greatest mass killers of humans in all of human history have always been governments. From Romans killing Christians, to Hitler killing Jews, to Stalin killing an estimated 2,000,000 to 60,000,000 of his own people (Wikipedia.org).
Government has consistently been the most dangerous mass murderer in human history.
When governments kill their people, the government becomes the leading cause of death. Your chance of death by government becomes much higher than your chance of death by mass shooting sits in our society today.
We have been insulated from mass government slayings for many years. World War II seems like ancient history. Idi Amin Dada is obscure and unknown, but killed 100,000 to 500,000 of his own people in the tiny country of Uganda (Wikipedia.org) in the 1970’s. The evidence for atrocities by governments is overwhelming.
A rational trade off is already in play. We accept the risk of guns in our culture in trade for the benefit of self protection, and sport.
At Balanced Thought, we find it curious that the same people that have such lack of trust for the police, clammer for gun control.
Similarly, we find it curious that those who seem to most support the police, have the low expectation of those police in protecting them.
Can we do better? Of course. Should we try? Of course. But let’s look at all of the facts, even, and perhaps especially, those that fly in the face of our emotional responses.
Insane people will always be among us. If the standard is that we have to control every person as if they are insane, that is a quick pathway to the kind of control by the state that will allow the government to do whatever they like to their own people. Last time we checked, there are a lot of folks out there that are very unhappy with the current leadership in this country.
Do we really want to give the government that much authority?
Perhaps some balanced thought is in order.
So how about we “Charge the common ground”?
Where do we have majority agreement?
We hate when mass shootings happen
We would like mass shootings to stop completely
We want mass shootings to stop NOW
We do not want crazy people getting guns, and anyone that shoots kids at a school, even by today’s much fluid standards, still is recognized as crazy
Both sides show some level of concern about the police. One says they are corrupt, the other says they can’t protect us.
Both sides believe the police should engage a shooter quickly and decisively.
One side clearly hates the current administration, while the other tends to not trust government in general.
What do the facts tell us?
We are a society of the quick and easy. We want this solved now, period. But the devil is always in the details.
The police are not going to be able to stop these shootings. Police respond, but the time between the start of an attack and the police arriving is deadly.
When confronted with force, mass shooters stop, either by suicide or surrender.
Prohibition has never eliminated any undesirable thing, but instead created black markets and the crime that goes with them. From Alcohol, drugs, or gum in middle school, prohibitions do not work in a free society.
The odds of being killed in a mass shooting are much lower on average than the odds of dying from a bee sting.
Government has failed from the lowest to the highest level on this and every other issue, not because government is bad per se, but because bureaucracies fail, and government is the largest bureaucracy.
What are the possible trade-offs?
Securing Schools: Are we willing to make our schools lock down centers secured by walls (fences can be shot thru easily, so walls it is), armed guards or other staff, surveillance systems, etc? What would the costs be to build meaningful walls around every school in the country? How much would it cost to hire armed guards and or install surveillance systems? Could we spend that money more wisely? Assuming we did all these things at any cost, would they actually work?
What would the effect of these new “locked down” schools be on the psychology of our kids and our culture? Common ground: We hate these events, we want them to stop completely, we want them to stop now.
Arming Schools: Some have suggested arming teachers, but as most teachers are leaning left these days, is it fair to force them to participate in the armed defense of the school? Could we go with vetted volunteers, trained to handle the weapons? Would we have enough volunteers to cover the need? How and who would administer the program? At what cost? would this work? Common ground: We hate these events, we want them to stop completely, we want them to stop now.
Collecting AR-15s: What would be involved in removing the AR -15 rifle from every current owner in the country? What would the cost be? How would the current owners react? What would be done with the guns? Who would administer the program? How long would it take? How would we know that we got them all? What would we do with the people who were unwilling to turn over their guns? How would we enforce this new prohibition and how much would that cost? What do we do about the second amendment and it’s true intention of arming the citizens against tyranny. Common ground: None.
Changing the buying age for guns: This is an idea that already has a framework in place (although it is clear that the system is not being administered correctly). A change in the age to buy any firearm would be an adjustment and actually simplify the existing system of allowing 18 year olds to buy some guns, but make them what until they are 21 to buy others. This would be relatively easily initiated. The cost would be relatively low. The most recent shooter would not have been able to purchase a gun. Common ground: we do not want crazy people getting guns. Common ground: We hate these events, we want them to stop completely, we want them to stop now, we don’t want crazy people getting guns.
Improve the background check data: Background check data is already collected. Improving a system is typically much less costly and time consuming than creating a new one.
Assessing the current data and looking for how bad people came to get the guns makes perfect sense. Again, it is easier to augment an existing system than build a new one. Relative to other suggestions, this would be a lower cost option. Common ground: We hate these events, we want them to stop completely, we want them to stop now, we don’t want crazy people getting guns.
Improve the background check process: This is essentially the same as the data piece, but specific to the process. The process will not work with bad data. Assessing the current system and looking for how bad people came to get the guns makes perfect sense. Again, it is easier to augment an existing system than build a new one. Relative to other suggestions, this would be a lower cost option. Common ground: we do not want crazy people getting guns. Common ground: We hate these events, we want them to stop completely, we want them to stop now, we don’t want crazy people getting guns.
Maintain Second Amendment Rights: This is a huge cultural battle. Oddly, the common ground points toward maintaining the right to bear arms. Common ground: Police can’t be counted on, government trust.
We have allowed our public discussions to devolve into shouting matches driven by emotions (what we at Balanced Thought call the “little monster”).
This has lowered the discussion, and removed the rational exchange of ideas in favor of ugly tribalism.
We can bridge this. We can, and should, come together.
When we see the same news repeated over and over through the new cycle, the horror of the events is amplified.
It is a nightmare that these shootings happen.
But, when we take a look at the big picture, with a clear, unemotional eye, we see that the size of the problem is not as big as our little monsters would like us to think.
Our little monsters are turning us into monsters when we interact with those who disagree with us.
When making a choice about how to live, consider this simple question: “What would happen if everyone did it the way I am doing it”?
What would happen if everyone simply lived for themselves, filled with fear and taking whatever they could from others?
Think of a world filled with thieves.
If everyone is stealing from everyone else, eventually there will be nothing left to steal. Somebody has to make stuff for there to be stuff available to steal.
If nobody has the faith to plant the seeds, raise the cattle, build the industry, deliver the goods, and sell the goods, there will be no goods.
It appears easiest to simply take what we need from others, particularly when we are full of fear.
But that is a short term solution to a lifelong problem.
An Alternative Way
What if everybody tried to do their best every single day?
What if everybody gave as much as they could every day?
What would the world look like if we all did exactly the things we know we need to do, and did those things to the very best of our abilities?
How different would the world be?
The world improves or spirals into chaos depending on which path most people chose.
Am I going to be fear filled, worrying about where my next meal is going to come from?
Or am I going to have some faith in this magical place I happily find myself, and give freely knowing that will make the world a better place, and that is the only rational long-term choice?
Can we agree that everyone stealing is not going to work as a solution?
Can we agree that taking from others is not going to work?
Some would have you believe that “they are here to help”. They wax poetic of the injustices of things, and demand others pay up for the unfairness of it all.
It brings up an interesting question: How much are they giving to their favorite charities?
You see, I too have a great interest in feeding the hungry, sheltering the poor, and helping those in need. But here is the difference: For 2016, my wife and I gave 23.1% of our adjusted gross income away. 23.1%.
For our taxable income, we gave 66.5% of our income away. 66.5%.
On an actual income basis, meaning no games, we gave away 34.4% of our gross income. 34.4%. That is NOT including taxes. Just the money we gave to charity.
We put our money where our heart is. Our money. Not your money. We do not DEMAND that you put your money where our heart is. That is our job, not your job.
Which begs a question: How much do my socialist friends give to charity?
You see, when you give to charity or directly to others, it is an act of kindness. It is an act of benevolence.
But, when you do not give to charity, but demand that others give to you or to the charity YOU choose, that is not benevolence.
Can you see the difference?
I find it interesting how often I hear the very folks who are DEMANDING that others “give” to them, talking about how those others are “greedy.”
Indeed. Who is greedy?
You see, socialism seems a lot like altruism. “We are just trying to help…”
Here is a social model to consider: What if the plan was that you should work hard to improve your situation, and then, you would have the option to give to others?
Right now, my friends on the left are squealing that those “greedy” jerks won’t give their money away.
But the real reason that they presume that others will not give their money away, is because my socialist friends do not give their own money away. So, they presume that no one else will either.
Revealing, don’t you think?
To the socialist, it is an act of high honor to demand money from others.
This is the very nature of a racket.
This is false benevolence.
Indeed, it is tyranny.
A real gift is given, not demanded. If you want to help the world, go and do it. If you want to create tyranny, demand others do it.
Pretty simple really.
So, you see, I really do want to help others. I do that by giving a high percentage of my income to various charities, and directly to people in need. Charities and people of MY choice.
This allows me to hold those charities and people accountable.
We look for charities that do demonstrably great work, and are very good stewards of their assets.
Or, we look to give to people who are really trying to better themselves. Helping them get to a point of stability in their lives where they can become self sustaining. Eventually, they can become givers as well, giving back in the way they think is best.
Could there be a more perfect form of democracy? You decide what you will give to, and I will decide what I will give to.
With socialism, there is NO accountability, which is how we end up with disasters like Venezuela, or the Veterans Administration. No accountability.
With socialism, some bureaucrat decides how much money is demanded, and where that money goes. So why would we think that a bureaucrat would not simply line their own pockets, or those of their friends?
Why is it, my socialist friends, that you think that some government bureaucrat is just going to be a good person, with no evidence to show that they are, and no accountability to ensure that they are, no reason for them to be, and no example of that in history?
My giving actually DOES feed people. Real people, who come to the food pantry and get food for their family in need.
I know I am doing a real good that is helping people in real need.
I feel happy to do it.
I want to do it more, and the folks that get that food are truly grateful for the gift. They may even think that one day, they will give to the pantry, and help others the same way they were helped. And thus, this design expands naturally and in a positive, elective and free way.
With socialism, invariably the “giver” is forced, and the “receiver” becomes dependent, and demanding, which turns the “gift” into an “entitlement” for the receiver and a burden for the giver. This puts the entire giving process on its head. It is turned upside down, where the receiver DEMANDS the gift, and the giver becomes a slave.
What could possibly go wrong?
Perhaps the “giver” will figure out that they are being made the fool, and simply stop producing. Why should they continue to produce?
The givers (or producers) are demonized, because it helps the bureaucrats maintain control and justifies the constant taking, and the takers are elevated.
So why not just become a taker?
And then the producer group gets smaller.
This leads to a reduction in production.
And that leads to forced labor.
This is exactly what ALWAYS happens with socialism which is why socialism always fails.
One does not claim benevolence by demanding the fruits of other’s labor.
One is benevolent by giving of their own labor.
Socialism is an evil construct wrapped up in a false claim of kindness.
It is not kindness. It is simply a stealthy evil, which is the most powerful kind of evil.
You will know them by the fruits of their efforts.
Socialism is the greatest mass murderer in history.
So, I ask my socialist friends to share their giving, as I have above. How much did YOU give away last year? Because here is the catch: When you really do give, you realize that you do not need some huge bureaucracy to manage that giving. You can give all you can give without some government official controlling it at all.
So why not just give?
Where practical discussions lead to understanding, better relationships and real solutions