Ode to the First Amendment

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“The test of democracy is freedom of criticism.”  – David Ben-Gurion

And lest we forget:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
– First Amendment, United States Constitution

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the right to speak openly – without government restraint. It guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly and the right to petition.

FREEDOM OF RELIGION:  It  forbids  Congress from promoting one religion over another and from restricting an individual’s religious practices. Regardless of the religion. Any and all religion.

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION:  It  prohibits  Congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely.  Censorship is therefore prohibited.

FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY:  It  prohibits  Congress from  denying the rights of citizens to assemble peaceably and to petition their government.  The power of peaceful protest is our democratic right.

“Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”
– Thomas Jefferson

Photo (of graffiti) via flickr.com.

Photo (of press) by Glenn Fawcett [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

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The Teacher and the Student

Some great quotes to live by…..

… so, I’m in a philosophical frame of mind these days and for the rest of 2016, my posts will highlight famous philosophical quotes and the philosophers who said them. This month (September), the focus will be on some of the greatest ancient Greek philosophers whose influence and thinking have transcended the passage of time.

PLATO & ARISTOTLE

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Plato (left) and Aristotle (right) – School of Athens

Some famous quotes by “The Teacher” — Plato:

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” 

“In politics we presume that everyone who knows how to get votes knows how to administer a city or a state. When we are ill… we do not ask for the handsomest physician, or the most eloquent one.” 

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.” 

Plato  (427—347 BCE) was born in Athens,  of Athenian nobility. He was the devout and most brilliant student of Socrates, and they became close friends. After the death of Socrates, Plato turned his back on Athenian politics. His most productive works were written in the course of three voyages to Sicily. He began to write the dialogues (writing in the form of conversation) ad this became the foundation of his philosophical teachings. Upon returning to Athens, he founded the Academy – the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Aristotle became one of his star pupils and closest associate.

Perhaps the most influential philosopher of all time, Plato is known for his usage of dialectic – a discussion of ideas and insights into the nature of reality. And his philosophy espoused cognitive optimism – a belief in the capacity of the human mind to seek and attain the truth, and to use this truth for the rational and virtuous management of  life and government. He believed that all the conflicting elements in society could (and should) be harmonized. Each of these elements will flourish when they coexist in harmony.  The existence of such a balanced society is impossible without virtue.

Plato’s Academy remained in existence for another thousand years. Centuries after his death, his philosophical system resurfaced as  Neoplatonism.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Some famous quotes by “The Student” — Aristotle:

“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” 

“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.” 

“He who has overcome his fears will truly be free.” 

Aristotle (384—322 BCE) was born in Stagira (northern Greece). He was the son of Nichomachus –court physician to the Macedonian royal family. Trained first in medicine, he then later went on to study philosophy with Plato (in Athens). Aristotle was a brilliant student, so much so that he questioned some of Plato’s teachings. After  Plato died, Aristotle was not appointed head of the Academy. and so he left Athens for the islands. In 338 B.C.E., he returned to Macedonia to tutor Alexander the Great. When Alexander conquered Athens, Aristotle went there to set up a school of his own, known as The Lyceum. After the death of Alexander the Great, Aristotle opposed Macedonian rule and his rebellion nearly cost him his death. He fled to the island of Euboea, where he later died.

It is believed that Aristotle’s body of written work included as many as 150 philosophical treatises – of which 30 survived. From biology and physics to morals, aesthetics and politics, he wrote prolifically. Although his teacher (Plato) believed ultimate reality was found in ideas or eternal forms, Aristotle saw ultimate reality in physical objects, through experience. But what really distinguished Aristotle from other ancient, medieval and modern philosophers was that, according to him, the universe never had a beginning or an end. It was eternal.  He also believed that change was cyclical. In the Middle Ages, Aristotle’s philosophy was adopted and fused into Christian doctrine, forming a philosophical system known as Scholasticism. Indeed, the Roman Catholic Church embraced Aristotelian thought as its official philosophy.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

READ SOME OF THEIR MOST FAMOUS WORKS:

The Trial and Death of Socrates, by Plato

The Republic, by Plato

Apology, by Plato

Politics, by Aristotle

The Neomachian Ethics, by Aristotle

Metaphysics, by Aristotle

I Feel the Bern but Now it’s Time to Shake Hands and Play Nice

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TO  ALL  BERNIE  SANDERS  SUPPORTERS:

(Note: I am a Bernie Sanders supporter)


Bernie’s political revolution will not die with this election.

It is because of his tenacity and commitment, that the 2016 Democratic Party Platform is the most progressive in the history of the Democratic Party. You can read it and/or print it, as I have (it’s 51 pages long) — from the link below (at the bottom of my statement). Read it carefully.  It’s a good platform.

If Bernie had run his campaign as an Independent from the get-go, I think that this year we would have seen the beginning of a tri-party political system. His passion, charisma, authenticity and the simple truths he speaks (and has consistently spoken for the last 5 decades) would have won him the presidency.

His Democratic campaign was sabotaged. We know that.  We’ve all seen the leaked emails, as proof.

Jill Stein (the Green Party candidate), while being intelligent and possessing many of the qualities of Bernie Sanders, simply does not attract or excite the populace the way Bernie does. Even with solid financial contributions, she will likely not win.  Remember, America is made up of many diverse people, they (not just you and I) have to be stimulated by her leadership.

So that leaves us with Hillary Rodham Clinton and Donald J. Trump.

Now many of you are saying that when faced with the lesser of two evils, choose none. It’s a noble statement. I agree with it, in principle. In practice, however, not voting for Hillary Clinton will ensure a Trump victory. It WILL… just look at the numbers.

We know that Bernie Sanders would have beaten Trump at the polls, by a landslide. But he is no longer in the race.

So yes, by not voting for Hillary, you will stay true to your convictions.  And that’s great. But the result will be that we will have President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence running this country into oblivion, taking whatever progress we’ve made in this country over the last 50 years (LGBTQ rights, women’s reproductive rights, human rights, civil liberties, etc) and flushing it down the toilet. We will endure this for the next 4, maybe even 8 years.

For Democrats and Independents (and even some Republicans), this has become an election focused on: “Hell no, NOT Trump!”

The facts are simple:

The more people vote for Hillary, the more chance of not having Trump as our president.

If Bernie Sanders supporters (myself included) choose to take the moral high ground and abstain from voting, or vote for an Independent party candidate like Jill Stein or Gary Johnson, we will have a Trump presidency.

Personally, a Trump/Pence win is simply not palatable. I just can’t support it. It makes me anxious, just imagining a country with those two men at the helm.

So, I will grit my teeth and support Hillary…. as Bernie has – he’s doing it for the same reasons I am….. so as not to have a Trump/Pence Administration.

But in the meantime, I will continue to be an active participant in Bernie’s political revolution — working with his people, to be the thorns in Hillary’s behind… by serving as a constant reminder to her that she promised to deliver on this progressive Democratic platform, and by continuing to push for justice and equality for all Americans.

— Heather (heatherfromthegrove)

To read and/or print out the 2016 Democratic Party Platform, go to: https://www.demconvention.com/platform/).

“We are stronger together.”

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Photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons and Hands in unity image via Wikimedia Commons.