Friday, November 23, 2007

The Truth about the Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving time. The start of the Holiday Season and also the time when the media loves to drop in stories about how Thanksgiving is a time of mourning for Native Americans because it reminds them how we stole there lands and generally gave them a raw deal.

Well if we are going to play myth-buster and deconstruct the Thanksgiving story lets not leave anything out. Native Americans where not the idyllic children of nature that Thanksgiving critics would have you believe. They engaged in constant warfare over hunting grounds with other tribes. many tribes had only resided on the land white men found them on for a few generations before we "discovered them. They had driven out the previous occupants who in turn drove someone else out of somewhere. many tribes engaged in slavery, ritual torture of captives and a few tribes where even cannibals. Their were good "Indians" and bad "Indians" just like their were good "pale faces and bad "pale faces"

That's not to say we treated the Native Americans fairly. We visited many injustices upon them. We even committed atrocities against them. However that was the way of the world. Up to that point in time there had never been a nation that at some time or another had not set out to conquer it's neighbors. Let us keep history in perspective.

The fact of the matter is Western Europeans conquered the new world because they had a superior culture. Oh you can argue if you want that the culture of the Native Americans was superior because you prefer it. That works if you take a subjective viewpoint. The truth of the matter is however that culture is objective. Culture is nothing more then a response to a set of environmental factors. Its worth should be judged by how it increases success of the members of that culture. In short it is a survival mechanism.

By that measure Western European culture is undeniably the most successful that has everexisted. It has survived, thrived and spread and for all the bad things it has caused it has done twice as many good things. As it has evolved it has ended things like cannibalism, head hunting, slavery and human sacrifices. It has freed women from servitude, improved the health of the whole world and made incredible scientific discoveries.

Yes part of Thanksgiving is celebrating that we received help from another culture. But we gave that culture access to goods their culture could not produce. That was a two way street

I am not saying we should gloss over the terrible things we have done along the way nor am I saying there is no room for improvement. I am not saying that other cultures have nothing to show us or that our culture should be forced on anyone.

I am saying let us not loose sight of the forest because of the trees. Let us recognize the good with the bad. Let us not so rack ourselves with guilt about the past that we can not move forward.

Let us recognize Thanksgiving for what it is a time to give thanks just as the first Pilgrims did and leave out the self flagellation.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Lord, we thank you for the blessings you have bestowed upon us individually and upon this great nation. We thank you for the freedom and opportunity you have given us. We also thank your servants Lord who have made great sacrifices including their lifes to secure the gifts that you have given us. For no man has greater love then he that gives his life for another. Amen

We all have many things to be thankful for. Lets us not forget during the busy day to pause a moment and give thanks.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Death Penalty

I have been working on a couple of posts lately and have not gotten around to finishing them.
The Death penalty issue was not on my radar until I saw that Democrats in my blue state of NJ seek to abolish the death penalty.
I am generally considered to be a pretty conservative guy and I used to be a pretty strong proponent of the death penalty but my thinking has evolved. First I am deeply concerned about how many people have been wrongly convicted. But I also have developed doubts about the concept in general.

The Criminal justice system is supposed to accomplish a few things; protecting the public, deterring crime, reforming the criminal and vengeance.

The death penalty does protect the public from additional crimes by that person but that can be accomplished by locking them up. Although there is an exception to that. Terrorists. When you lock up terrorists you risk their colleagues doing desperate things to gain their freedom. This puts more lives in danger. Therefore this is the one place I would sanction the death penalty

The evidence does not suggest criminals think about the death penalty before they kill someone The death penalty does not act as an effective deterrent.

It obviously does not reform them. Not much in our current justice system seems to do that.

It does serve our need for retribution. Now I will be the first to admit that if someone harmed a member of my family my first instinct would be to kill the perpetrator myself. Preferably with my bare hands. I personally like the thought of vengeance. I have dreamed of lesser vengeance for any number of lesser grievances. However as a Christian I know that this is not what Jesus would want me to do. Because of this thankfully the desire for vengeance has always passed. Would it pass if someone hurt or killed a member of my family. Honestly, I do not know.
In the long term vengeance does not make us happier it gives hollow satisfaction and can eat away at the soul. While it is an all too human response the need for vengeance is not one of our better qualities.

Having come to this realization I have concluded that the government should not cater to our baser instincts. The government should not be in the business of vengeance.

It is time that ( with the exception of terrorism) we end the death penalty