Enduring Lessons

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by Ben Huot

www.benjamin-newton.com

November 5, 2021

person in corn maze

Many people often wonder why would someone spend so much time studying philosophy and religion. What is the practical benefit of it? These things help you become wiser and avoid pain.

I do not pretend to be wise. On the contrary I have made many stupid mistakes and continue to do so. But I like to avoid pain where possible and so like to read about the failures of others so that I can avoid the consequences.

Why does God tell us not to sin? Because it hurts us by making it harder to find peace with God and the world. Sin sounds fun at first but later on it hurts us and others. Sin is the source of suffering in this world. There was no suffering before sin.

Most major religions have as many or more rules than the Bible. They are also very similar. The same hold true for government laws. They are necessary for people to get along and have a society that is stable and functioning.

One of the many problems we have today is that we are making things legal that should remain illegal. I know the reasoning is that no one follows the laws anyway or that they do not hurt other people. But all addictions hurt other people.

These laws fall into a category called decency or vice laws that have been illegal until recently in our country. Issues involved include sexual immorality, gambling, and drugs. Lying is probably the worst for destabilizing society but, though not directly illegal, there are serious legal penalties for it in certain cases. Stealing is being enforced less also, especially involving anything digital.

Many of these on the surface seem like things that the government should not legislate and they should be left to people’s conscience. The problem becomes that once you allow a little of sin in your life, it escalates until you end up serving the sin. You then lose your freedom and joy in life.

As Christians we have a very different idea about freedom than America does. Christians do not believe that we have rights just by being people. They believe they have been given freedom by the price of the suffering of Christ on Earth.

Christ had to be totally rejected by His Father and go down into hell after having a shameful death as a criminal. So Christians believe we are all guilty of sin and deserve to suffer eternally in hell. Christ paid that price instead.

Many think this too severe a punishment but we do not understand how painful sin can be. Wise people figured this out over the millennia of human existence. What seems fun at first can have really bad consequences that are not usually apparent at the time.

So why should the government be brought into this religious issue? It comes down to things affecting other people. When someone does drugs and then drives it hurts other people. When they steal online media and software it drives media companies to make everything we buy temporary like streaming or software restrictions.

Our country needs to find a way to agree on basic things and find some sort of philosophy to base the country on. The constitution is not enough. There have to be cultural ways of understanding how to interpret it. Separated from its context the constitution is unclear.

Furthermore this constitution was written for an early industrial revolution era not an information revolution era. The main problem at the time was the power of government not the power of hackers. Our world is now global as well as much as we do not like it nothing has been produced anywhere near the scale we do today without China as it is governed today.

We can thank Saudi Arabia and China for their governments and their cultures, for our freedoms today. Without them we would not have the internet today which is now the basis for a stable and functional society as much as oil or food. The US is not self sufficient and could not be in the way the US decided to design the world.

Unfortunately we can not just travel in time to fix the problem and if we did we would open a worse situation than we have now with the Internet. There is a direct tie between how easy it is to do something and what society ends up doing on a large scale. We have made crime too easy and that is why we have so much crime today. Most crime is done online today as everything else is as well.

The human mind is the source of bad things. Our enemy is really ourselves. No one makes us do bad things usually. We can be compromised but that usually involves us previously doing something bad which gives the criminal leverage.

The more we link the human mind directly to actions as we do with current technology like doing good or bad with a button, the more we bypass our brains so that we move from what we feel to what we do. When we do not think critically about how we feel and use our mind to suppress antisocial and evil tendencies we end up doing bad things.

So the combination of both making sin legal and easy to do increase the sin in the world. When you remove more and more absolutes other basic concepts in civilization are challenged as well. It may not be more laws but it could be the way we educate or don’t like in not teaching how to multiply without computers, art or trades in school, or how to write in cursive or how to tell time by old clocks.

We have made great strides in society when it comes to things like toleration for differences and lack of tolerance for violence and we need to push this even farther. At the same time we need to double down on getting vice crimes under control. But to do so we need to reverse much of our thinking about these “minor” crimes.

Sin hurts us and others whether you are a Christian or not. That is why we must make it harder to sin. When we were a rural based farming society you had to go to the city and go out of your way to get involved in sin and crime. Now everything comes into your bedroom and, if you hit the wrong button or have poor security, you can do bad things.

I think the way to deal with this for individuals is by studying about ethics, changing the way we think, and being more careful in how we act. What the rest of society does is out of our control. But going down the road of sin leads to more suffering. Avoid even things only loosely related to anything you would not be comfortable with telling your mom.