Monday, May 9, 2011

Those who have been reading at Cloud of Witnesses can attest that there is very little opinion expressed on behalf of its producer. This is not by accident. Once suspicion has been cast on the credibility of the book  - The Bible - responsible for forming the very foundations of my belief system, then who or what can be deemed trustworthy?

Desiring to please my Creator, I drank deep from the pages of my Bible and I believed - my own reading and understanding colored by the teachings of pastors and teachers - and therefore found, the Bible to be a guide for all pertinent questions of life: conception, education, economy & finance, government, community & politics, marriage, religion, and death. And, if I could not quite believe, I assumed it must be correct and true.

Assuming (false) pride in my country, with hand on heart, I unquestioningly, pledged the flag; I believed our wars were right and just: killing, an unexplainable necessary evil; I championed our soldiers; I struggled to overcome my dissenter’s attitude that I might be counted among the ranks of the Christian Conservative Patriotic Americans, acceptable to God.
 
I believed until I could no longer believe. Then I realized that many of my beliefs had been based on nothing more than the mere interpretations and assumptions of other men. The knowledge and beliefs I held, starting with my Creator, had been shaped by the musings of man, and much of it was wrong.

Why had I allowed myself to give other humans more authority, more credibility, more power than I gave myself? How had this happened?

If I am now skeptical of much of what other men write and say, then by what reason do I suggest that those authors and speakers I am choosing to trust are indeed worthy of your consideration? There is no logical reason.

Convinced that there must be others like me, others who had found the traditional teachings of man to be lacking, I started a quest to find them.  It has not been easy to throw off the mantle of conventionality; to read ideas and opinions that seem so contradictory and convoluted to everything I know. I have more questions than answers, a healthier skepticism and a different sense of freedom.

Cloud of Witnesses is the proof of others. It isn’t that I agree with or accept everything each one says. Rather, I understand that each one is offering the answers they found when they could no longer believe the lies of traditional teachings and began their personal search for truth. The harmony, the resonance, is that we are dissenters.

In the day-to-day posts, I introduce you to various witnesses and let them tell you their own stories using their own words. To offer commentary would be to assume a position or power that is not mine so I refrain. Slavery & the 8 Veils is the attempt of one witness to explain why we people allow other men to shape our truth, while Philosophy of Liberty offers a starting point for those who, like me, have been forced to throw off the mantle of conventionality and are in need of new ideas to replace the old faulty ones.

If I have struggled so long and hard to free myself, the last thing I want is to find myself ensnared once more, like Br'er Rabbit and the Tar Baby [1], in the clutches of a bogus system of another man’s making. If asked what I believe today: I believe in my Creator. I am relearning the rest with the help of my Cloud of Witnesses.

I will not assume or suggest that I know more or better than you. However, I will suggest that if you don't like what you are seeing, there is a reason as well as an alternative perspective. It is sad to realize that I have believed in a system that had me assuming I was better than some and not as good as others; that I needed to learn from another that it was permissible to disagree.

I will not ask you to join me or help organize that we may…That we may what? Become one more group attempting to use our power to enslave those who will? Has not history shown us that revolutions are nothing more than one power group replacing another power group for their own self-aggrandizement while maintaining the enslavement and oppression of the masses?  I am not about being militant. I want no power: neither in my hand nor over my head, wielded by the hand of another. I want freedom and liberty for myself and you.

You are free to express your opinions but do not assume that they are correct and truthful therefore everyone else should concur. That is arrogant and egotistical, not freedom.

Nowadays, I bristle when I read or hear about plans that this person or that group has for how the rest of us should be. If you have what you believe is a good idea, then enact it in your own life, only as an example, that may be taken up by others if they are convinced of its worthiness. But do not presume to know what is best for your neighbors. That is not freedom.

While we are familiar, even comfortable, with ideas of power and force as weapons used to manipulate those who are seen as inferior or worthless, we are less familiar and comfortable with ideas of freedom and liberty and how they can be applied to bring all men to a true state of equality in terms of being free: individual choice based on voluntary consent; none superior or inferior. If death and destruction is the result of power, then let life and prosperity be the result of humility.



[1] Joel Chandler Harris, Uncle Remus and the Tar Baby.

Edited May 24, 2011

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