Thursday, November 03, 2005

One Big Pile Of Salt

Continuing on the theme of being stuck in the past, I am going to connect two seemingly unrelated authors -- Thomas Friedman and God.

I just finished reading The World Is Flat by Friedman, an incredible book and a must read for anyone who cares about the state of the world. A brilliant friend already wrote an in-depth review of the book, so I direct you to his blog for that. Of interest to me in this post is Friedman's concluding chapter (sorry to spoil the ending kids) in which he discusses the differences between "dark societies" and dream factories like America.

In societies that have more memories than dreams, too many people are spending too many days looking backward. They see dignity, affirmation, and self-worth not by mining the present but by chewing on the past. And even that is usually not a real past but an imagined and adorned past. Indeed, such societies focus all their imagination on making that imagined past more beautiful than it ever was, and then they cling to it like a rosary or a strand of worry beads, rather than imagining a better future and acting on that. It is dangerous enough when other countries go down that route; it would be disastrous for America to lose its bearings and move in that direction.

America's role since its inception, Friedman remarks, has been to be the country that looks forward, not back.

Looking forward, not back, is of such psychological importance that even God gave this same advice to his followers. One of my favorite Biblical stories is that of Lot's wife.

According to the Book of Genesis, God was upset with all the shenanigans in Sodom and Gomorra so, in his oh-so-characteristically angry, Old Testament way, he sent in Al Qaeda to blow up the place. There were, of course, a few good souls in the city and the angels warned them to leave post haste. "Flee for your lives! Don't look back, and don't stop anywhere in the plain" was the admonition to Lot and his wife.

As with her predecessor Eve, Lot's wife did not heed the advice and looked back (what's with all the obstinate females ignoring the Lord's commands?). She instantly became a pillar of salt.

Biblical scholars continue to ponder the moral of the story, so I will throw in my $.02 on the topic. Looking back = salt. Salt is an apt metaphor for bitterness, regret, doubt and guilt. The story is a great allegory (I do not believe it is literal) about not wallowing over the past, not keeping your head stuck on things that have happened and how important it is to let go of the past so that you don't become a bitter pillar of salt. Lot's wife may have been attached to her life in Sodom and looking back indicated she had doubts about the unknown new life toward which she was heading. Since it is physically impossible to look backwards while you are moving forward, she became a pillar -- a structure anchored to the earth in one spot, unable to move.

The wisdom of this story is compelling. It is easy to become comfortable with what we have and with what we know. Think about the rigidity with which so many people approach life; the safety blankets to which they cling because they are terrified of the unknown. "I have always done things that way" or "because that is our tradition" are phrases used by people who are anchored. Many Republicans proudly declare that they never waiver from their opinions, but when they speak you can't miss all the bitter salt oozing from those rigid pillars. They offer undying loyalty to the allegorical Sodomites of their party, citing their goodness of the past rather than the sins of the present.

Michael Hammer, a business organization consultant, told Thomas Friedman
One thing that tells me a company is in trouble is when they tell me how good they were in the past. Same with countries. You don't want to forget your identity. I am glad you were great in the fourteenth century, but that was then and this is now. When memories exceed dreams, the end is near. The hallmark of a truly successful organization is the willingness to abandon what made it successful and start fresh.

Is America willing to start fresh or will the Monkey-in-Chief and his cult followers continue to mourn the loss of a fictitious Christian past? Are the dreams exceeding the memories or are we doomed to be become a nation of salt pillars?

Forget the former things
do not dwell on the past
Isaiah 43:18


At 6:39 AM, November 03, 2005 , Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

Brilliant. Looking backward to a fake past and forward to a glorious future destruction are equally dangerous and debilitating to everything that made us prosper and made us progress.

Of course I don't for a moment believe that the White House mob believes their own words, but they do know how to use lies and bigotry to anger people into supporting their own destruction.

At 9:16 AM, November 03, 2005 , Blogger Reign of Reason said...

Great post...

I have the book next to my bed and should start it soon.

But the point is well taken: many Americans spend their time looking back toward a supposed golden age. They ignore slavery, suffrage, segregation, etc. and all the progress we’ve made against these historic evils.

It’s like I blogged some time ago: American’s have an almost physiological need to look back on history and feel good about themselves.

This country is in desperate need of a second Enlightenment.

At 9:44 AM, November 03, 2005 , Blogger jj said...

Another good post. It would seem the Religious right has a lot in common with Islamic fundamentalist.

They both want to go back to a time that never existed.

At 10:11 AM, November 03, 2005 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

JJ -

You are so right. Muslims always yack away about how great the Islamic empire in Spain was and how much advancement it brought to the world. All of it is true, but what have you done for me lately?

ROR - what can we do to start a new enlightenment? :-)

At 2:56 PM, November 03, 2005 , Blogger bombsoverbaghdad said...

Where do you come up with this shit? It's f-ing brilliant.

It is truly a gift to be able to always look forward. My Dad is like that. He is always optimistic and NEVER looks back. It's almost nauseating. I'm getting there.

I keep two Bible verses in my wallet. One of them is Isaiah 43:18-19. Check it out. On subject.

At 3:40 PM, November 03, 2005 , Blogger Roseville Conservative said...

Be Careful about labeling all Christians.

BTW... read the comments about your Mother... I will ceratinly pray that God comforts both of you in her final days.



At 3:57 PM, November 03, 2005 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

RC -

I don't label all Christians and I have gone to great pains to avoid doing so. The Bible (the NT) has a great deal of wisdom that I respect. It is unfortunate that some distort that message as something to divide people instead of using it to unite people. That's my beef with organized religion. Individuals do great things, but there is something perverse about the group dynamic that creates greed, envy, etc. and the church, mosque and synagogue are not immune from that.

Thank you for your prayers. I don't always agree with you, but it is apparent that you are a good person who means well. That alone is a starting point to find common ground.

At 5:44 AM, November 04, 2005 , Anonymous rich said...


This is a great post. I'm also reading the World Is Flat but not quite finished yet (so I skipped the first few paragraphs with the spoiler). I found the later half of the post on Lot dead-on.

Too many people want to turn back the clock in America. That's why Bush won. Some people were afraid at the pace of social progress in this country.

At 5:20 PM, November 04, 2005 , Blogger Roseville Conservative said...

Hi All:

Bush won the election because America Believes in...

The Sanctity of Life
The Tradition of Marriage

If this equates to going back to owning Blacks and subjugating Women in any of your paradigms... that is an absurd notion.

At 8:19 PM, November 04, 2005 , Blogger Adrianne said...

Well I am new to this nation so of course my post will not be terribly insightful but, I believe of course they are just marketing the false nostalgia, much like the PT cruiser. I mean no one would actually want to drive the actually, old, unsafe antiquated PT cruisers from decades ago, so they buy the new one, and along with it the nostaglia of something that never exsisted. And just like the old PT cruiser, old America had antiquated ideas, yet people are sold on the new PT believing it to be the authentic one, same with the concept of "going back to our roots", they think they want it, but they have just been cleverly decieved.

ps: sorry is this makes no sense:)

At 8:31 PM, November 04, 2005 , Blogger Adrianne said...

Roseville Conservative Blog:
So when you say "The Sanctity of Life" does that apply to the 2000 soliders that have been essentially butchered and bombed in Iraq? Did you forget about them? Oh no maybe you forgot about the thousands of Iraqis that were also dealt the same card. Is that the "sanctity of life" you refer to? Oh no, maybe you mean all the prisoners in this nation on death row. Or the thousands that have been executed by lethal injection and the electric chair. Is that the "sanctity of life?"

Now when you stated:
"The Tradition of Marriage"
I wonder if someone let you in on some stats: Let's see 50% divorce rate, and apparently 70% of marriage s experience some form of infidelity. But Of course, of course, the tradition of marriage must be UPHELD! And if gay people start marrying your marriage will mean less won't it? Oh no, what a horrible thought, that homosexuals could experience the love, passion, and commitment that I recieve in my marriage.

At 2:45 AM, November 05, 2005 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wonderful invention it is, this thing we call the Internet!

At 4:10 PM, November 05, 2005 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...


Your point about the PT Cruiser made complete sense. It's quite apt to the topic at hand.

I love your sarcasm!

At 4:07 PM, November 06, 2005 , Blogger chad said...

Hey Insurgent!
I am glad you found Friedman’s book informative as well. I’m even more heartened that you posted about it too, because with the traffic you get on this blog, some more people will pick up a copy and inform themselves.
I like how you have used a biblical story to spark a debate about the merit (or lack thereof) of social conservatism. As you know, I am usually all over the place with my political views, and seem to lie on some alternate dimension from the typical political continuum. (Sound like anyone else you know?)
I will say this: Friedman’s efforts to awaken a sleeping nation to the quiet crisis that is brewing in the world, should be heard by people of all political leanings. We all should be able to recognize the value of looking forward when it comes to globalization.
Be a liberal.
Be a conservative
Just don’t be ignorant.

Gotta go…I hear Paris is Burning, and I have not practiced the Vogue in ages,

“The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.”
~John F. Kennedy

At 10:43 AM, November 07, 2005 , Blogger Reign of Reason said...

Good comments Adrianne...

RC: I (unfortunately) believe you are right. Bush was elected on

The Sanctity of Life
The Tradition of Marriage

Why are these (especially the second) issues for the government to get involved in?

I guess I was one of the few who thought the election was about finding someone who had the right experience to lead us through perilous times. But as Bill Maher said “it turned out to be a referendum on boys kissing”.

My point is that most American’s don’t want an experienced, reasoned leader.. They want a cheer-leader and preacher. Someone who talks about morals and values but demonstrates neither; someone who chants “we’re #1, we’re #1” while simultaneously making the nation more vulnerable.

I only hope this latest debacle will open the eyes of the public.

At 11:20 AM, November 07, 2005 , Blogger Adrianne said...

Reign Of Reason:
I think the reason why G.W is so popular or was so popular is because of the anti-intellectualism in this nation. We have a man like John Kerry was was a fantastic debater, intelligent, clever, witty, and spoke elequountely. Then we have G.W who, is known and liked for his improper use of the English language. He is praised for his stubborness, stupidity etc. He markets it even! A lot of Americans don't want a President that is smarter than them, they want someone who speaks the way they do, and acts the way they do. I personally want my president to me SMARTER THAN ME! But there is definitley a movement in this society revolving around stupidity. I blogged about it a while ago and although it only discusses pop culture, it can be found in all elements of our society.

At 11:38 AM, November 07, 2005 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...


You hit the nail on the head. I have a calendar of daily "Bushisms" that could never have been done with a smart president. Bush is a retard and only retards can stomach his nonsense. ROR had a great post from October with a Republican elephant and the caption reads "Intellektuels is Stupid".

You should read Tim Wise, "White Like Me" sometime. Interesting book about race from a White guy who talks about "whiteness" as property. Bush's playing dumb strategy makes poor whites feel aligned with rich whites despite the class conflict, instead pitting them against other poor people. Divide and conquer always works.

Here's a funny excerpt from The World Is Flat

"Bill Gates is an unmatched celebrity in China. When he speaks at public events there, his engagements immediately sell out, and one has to pay ridiculous scalper prices (or risk hanging from the rafters) in order to get in to see him. This man who leveraged technology and made a fortune is an icon to the Chinese people...he is the Britney Spears of China. The problem with the United States is that Britney Spears is the Britney Spears of the America."

At 1:58 PM, November 07, 2005 , Blogger Adrianne said...

II: That is hilarious and unfortunatley so true!

At 11:27 PM, November 11, 2005 , Blogger Free Agency Rules said...


You don't really think John Kerry was the right person for the job do you?

He talked out of both sides of his mouth.

It is hard to argue with someone who argues with himself.

If two boys want to have sodomy in their bedroom, that is their right to do so.

But don't think that there are not already restrictions on marriage.

I cannot marry my married neighbors wife.

I cannot marry my 7 year old female neighbor.

Life is full of definitions. Don't change the definition of marriage based upon peoples likes.

I like monkeys, should we change the definition of marriage so I can marry a monkey?

Why not if all it is about is commitment and love. I doubt my monkey will ask for a divorce so that would be good based upon your figures on divorce rate.

One day you will realize that there is a reason why men and women are able to have babies and men and men cannot.

It is not nice to try to fool mother nature.



At 11:37 PM, November 11, 2005 , Blogger Free Agency Rules said...


Thank you for your compliment that I would do well in a flat world.

BTW was that you standing on the road in Peru?

You look like you are having a great time if it is you.

If I am in LA I will definately take you up on the lunch offer.

About 10 years ago I came very close to joining the Libertarian Party, so you know I still have strong leanings that way.



At 11:49 PM, November 11, 2005 , Blogger Free Agency Rules said...


Sorry for the sarcasm. Your post sounded so cliche, I couldn't help myself.

Now, I will be serious.

Men bring something to the marriage that a child needs.
Women bring something to the marriage that a child needs.

Men are usually stern and a good father figure is a well known icon in phycology books. Two women would deny a child the blessing of having a father.

Two men would deny a child the blessing of a mothers love. There is no love like the love of a mother.

There is order in the Universe. The Ying and the Yang. The man and the Woman. The Up and the Down. The inside and the outside.

Opposites attract for a reason.

Those of us who respond when asked..."Are you married" would like that question to have traditional meaning.

Two guys or two gals that want to be partners can call it something else, like Domestic Partners, but there is a reason why the words "Gay" and "Lesbian" do not have the same implication as "Straight" or "Normal."

Can you see that reasonable people can disagree and it is not necessarly true that your view is the only view that has merit?



At 12:02 AM, November 12, 2005 , Blogger Free Agency Rules said...


Said: "Why are these (especially the second) issues for the government to get involved in?"

The government is already heavly involved in the Licensing of Marriage. In fact it is a State Regulated License.

Just like a Drivers License you must meet certian standards or tests.

1. You must not already be married.
2. You must be over a certian age.
3. You must be human.
4. You must be asking to marry someone of the opposite sex.

Now when we the prople start changing any of the above 4 requirements, we must apply the law equally based upon the 14th Amendment.

Do all men fit in the above category? Yes all men are able to have the exact same restrictions.

Do all women fit in the above category? Yes, all women are able to have the exact same restrictions.

A gay man can marry any eligable female that a straight male can, the law makes no distictions as to someones likes or preferences. Say if I only liked blondes, it would not matter. If Bill only likes boys, it would not matter he still can marry the same women that I can.



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