"I believe that the finest qualities of man can flourish only in free air – that progress made under the shadow of the policeman’s club is false progress, and of no permanent value. I believe that any man who takes the liberty of another into his keeping is bound to become a tyrant, and that any man who yields up his liberty, in however slight the measure, is bound to become a slave."
H. L. Mencken
Richard Mitchell used to say that we should examine our beliefs, especially our most closely-held beliefs. He likened belief to an appetite--bellyfeel, I think Orwell called it. And just as our bellies grumble loudly when hungry, so too do our beliefs grumble when deprived of reason. Richard Mitchell described reason as the mind quietly asking and answering in turn, a good way to describe a mind examining itself.
Is the intensity with which we hold our beliefs the measure of our insanity? Would a completely rational human eschew belief of any sort?
Most beliefs are harmless enough, just opinions really. I can't imagine a bigfoot-believer wanting to force you to pay for his study of the elusive monster. But what about people who believe that government is essential to human existence? Those who fiercely clutch government-belief to their breasts are adamant that non-believers pay taxes, jump through hoops, and supplicate government job-holders. Believers will tell you that all problems can be solved by electing officials who will grant just the right privileges to deserving citizens.
But what about the deadbeat problem or the big, scary boogeyman problem? Scofflaws, darkies, and crotch-bombers, oh my! Who will build the roads, school our children, stamp our passports? And dammit, who's gonna pay my social security?
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