To be who you are, you must first be someone else

I felt the urge to examine the following quote from John Stuart Mill and attempt to rationalize the gist of the concept.

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

There is a very simple point here:  War is terrible, but refuting war on principle, even when doing so jeopardizes one’s personal freedoms, is far more terrible.

It is very easy to agree with this, because a general philosophy should be that no truth is so absolute that it can contradict another absolute truth.

Now, to examine, I will state that there is a very distinct law in my own personal philosophy: Any state of being is a prison.  Poetically justified: Anything you are is the consummate shadow of everything else that you are not.

In other words, everyone inhabits some sort of prison.  Some have just hung curtains and plants and are happy there, while others are more content fighting to find a better prison.

Thus, the inherent contradiction in this quote becomes evident.  For the idea to hold true, if you want to be anti-war, you must first succumb to a presumed logical inevitability (extraneous to your belief) that you must accept war as a viable method of protecting your belief.

In other words, you are free to be anti war, but to keep it that way, you must think like everyone else and fight a war on your own behalf.  To be who you are, you must first be someone else.

At best this is a conundrum, and by no means is this a logical disproof of war.  It is a simple demonstration that the path laid out by many as a journey to purity will inevitably require a very direct sacrifice of purity to conquer.

There are many branches to this concept, and I have personally examined a large portion of them in depth, but this general idea is a good entry to the philosophy of “breaking one’s chains.”

My new campaign: US Congresspeople, the President, and the Supreme Court Justices should forfeit their salary

You know, it’s a funny thought, but representing the people of the United States is more a civic duty and a means to an end than a career.  Check the writings of the founders of this nation — you represent this country because it’s the right thing to do, not because you can make a lifetime out of it.  (Sorry, no references here, but it’s true — anyway it’s my opinion regardless of who else shares it).

So here’s the thing:  All US Congresspeople should waive their rights to compensation via the US Treasury completely.

Yes, there is a recession right now, and it would be a genuine, stewartly statement.  But there have been recessions before, and that shouldn’t be the reason.

Senators and Representatives (and even the President and Supreme Court Justices) work very hard, and they deserve to make top dollar.  That being said, they should be performing their duties out of service to their country, not to get paid.

So, here is my proposal:  there will be a salary for all Congresspeople (Representatives and Senators), the President, and the Supreme Court Justices.

However, if their adjusted gross income on their tax returns exceeds said salary, they must pay the balance back to the IRS.

So, the freshman Congressman from state X only makes $30k a year as a teacher? Fine, pay him the $144k balance up to his $174k salary (2009 — US Congress Salaries and Benefits).  Congresspeople deserve $174k a year, but not when they’re already raking it in as a lawyer, writer — whatever.

I am titling this the “US Government Salary Forfeiture Movement.”  If you agree, spread the word.  I want this to become the law.  I wish these guys were already doing it, as it seems like the right thing to volunteer for.

Anyway, tag your blogs with “US Forfeiture” — get the word out, get people talking.  No high level government official has the right to complain about any fiscal issue while he or she is taking unnecessary funds from the US Treasury for performing a basic, humble, civic duty.

At the very minimum, this makes your representatives in government boldly claim that they are doing their job as a service to their country, not as a means to wealth.