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on government secrecy                       

"Behind closed doors, there is no guarantee that the most basic of individual freedoms will be preserved.  And as we enter the 21st century, the great fear we have for our democracy is the enveloping culture of government secrecy and the corresponding distrust of government that follows."

Senators Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Rob Wyden / 

U.S. Senate Report, 'Secrecy in International and Domestic Policy Making: the case for more sunshine'

October 2000 



on morality: Franklin's 13 virtues

While still a young man in his 20's, Benjamin Franklin devised a plan to become a virtuous man.  That plan was worked and refined throughout Franklin's life.  These thoughts he carried with him in a 'little black book' as a reminder to him of that to which he aspired to achieve, and also as a form of diary, where he recorded important thoughts. 

In his book, Poor Richard, Franklin implies that virtue is an end in itself which leads to a happier life; "Deny self for self's sake."  As Franklin thought, success in life is not possible without morality.  Although his 'moral plan' underscores the notion of human weakness, it nonetheless evokes the importance of the will.  The following 'moral plan' is taken from Franklin's Autobiography:

1. Temperance

    Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.

2. Silence

    Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.

3. Order

    Let all things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.

4. Resolution

    Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.

5. Frugality

    Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; waste nothing.

6. Industry

    Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.

7. Sincerity

    Use no harmful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

8. Justice

    Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

9. Moderation

    Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10. Cleanliness

    Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.

11. Tranquility

    Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

12. Chastity

    Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation.

13. Humility

    Imitate Jesus and Socrates.


why I am not a Christian

    "...I think all the great religions of the world--Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Communism--both untrue and harmful.  It is evident as a matter of logic that since they disagree, not more than one of them can be true.  With very few exceptions, the religion which a man accepts is that of the community in which he lives, which makes it obvious that the influence of environment is what has led him to accept the religion in question...

    Apart from logical cogency, there is something a little odd about the ethical valuations of those who think that an omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent Deity, after preparing the ground by many millions of years of lifeless nebulae, would consider Himself adequately rewarded by the final emergence of Hitler and Stalin and the H-bomb...

    We are sometimes told that only fanaticism can make a social group effective.  I think this is totally contrary to the lessons of history... The world that I should wish to see would be one freed from the virulence of group hostilities and capable of realizing that happiness for all is to be derived rather from co-operation than from strife.  I should wish to see a world in which education aimed at mental freedom rather than imprisoning the minds of the young in a rigid armor of dogma calculated to protect them through life against the shafts of impartial evidence.  The world needs open hearts and open minds, and it is not through rigid systems, whether old or new, that these can be derived."

Bertrand Russell, from the Preface of  "Why I am Not a Christian".  Russell, a British philosopher, taught at UCLA, Harvard, and the University of Chicago.  A life-long pacifist, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950.



Posted  November  1, 2004

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