- - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

There’s a new currency gaining prominence in American culture; it’s the currency of offense. This currency is based on the perceived value of victimization and people buy, sell and trade with it every day. The pictures on the bills change with the daily news. This particular currency uses the leverage of impugned guilt, and promises gratifying profits in the form of entitlements, forced cultural acceptance and indignation.

Is it working? It seems to be. When used to buy headlines and political favors, this new currency seems to be quite effective. No one likes to feel guilty about something. No one likes to be thought of as mean spirited or hateful. So this new currency gets its value from using our kindness and our fears to its advantage. Who would be so hateful as to say something that offends someone else, anyway? Such “hate speech” should be eradicated from society, right?

The two basic units of exchange in this new system of currency are: State Approved Tolerance and Unqualified Acceptance. These two bills can be used interchangeably. Once you have exchanged your opinions for the state approved tolerance, the next unit of exchange is complete acceptance and agreement with all opinions, regardless of truth, fact or evidence. Isn’t that relieving? No longer is there a need to search for truth or stand for it. This new currency is the new truth, so all that is needed is to accept the value it purports to hold.

You see, this new currency frees us of the need to have a difference of opinion or take part in heated debates. In fact, the “offense currency” is counting on the fact that we respect the value of “domestic tranquility” so much, that we will exchange what we know to be right and common sense for the opportunity to prove our love for peace at any cost.

I’m reminded of the incendiary words of that rabble-rousing rebel, Patrick Henry, who asked, “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?” Poor fellow. He never experienced a society where ultimate truth had already been found and brokered out to the masses through the state and a complicit media. Imagine, the weight of responsibility being lifted from the common man. No more obligation to seek truth or pursue it. Our only obligation is to accept and comply and we will have peace. No more thinking. No more debating. No more arguments or differences. What chains did Mr. Henry believe would’ve bound him if he had just been willing to exchange his opinion for compliance and trust the value of state approved peace?

There are only three major problems facing this new currency: 1. In order to own the most value in society, you must be the most offended and shout the loudest. 2. The offenses of the past must continually be resurrected, while at the same time being erased from memory. 3. With nothing to guide decisions about right and wrong other than those who shout the loudest offense, where is the stability in this new currency?

Therein lies the rub. The first problem leads to several pressing questions: At what point do those who claim the greatest offense, cease to be victims and proceed to become victors? Do they lose value once their offense has been rectified? Do they then sink to the bottom of society? I hate to insert an individual thought here, but what if those who claim to be offended are doing it for the wrong reasons? Or, heaven forbid, to gain position and power? The incentive to fight for a cause insulated from criticism with the ability to wield the sword of power and retribution without any accountability, might prove irresistible to those motivated by self-promotion.

The second problem requires a dichotomy of effort: Holding on to the offenses of the past while trying to cleanse our history of injustice. Unfortunately, there are those who have perfected this very thing, creating an industry out of this dichotomy and making a living off the dependence of their unsuspecting victims. How can we change or erase our negative history, if our history holds the source of our greatest offenses and consequently the value of our new currency?

Shall we dig up the bones of the war-mongering, Christian-persecuting Roman Caesars and senators and burn them in ritualistic bonfires to prove our own value in this new economy of offense? Should we line up to spit on the graves of Muslim leaders who tortured and killed those suspected of homosexuality or infidelity? Shall we take down the flags of England, Egypt, Spain and France, all of which had legal slavery at one point in their histories? Should we sue every religious leader who preaches doctrine that offends our own? Should we ban people from participating in public dialogue because we think they might offend us or might not fit the state mandated criteria? Is this what we must do to prove our own value or to force society to be at peace?

This is a false peace. Manipulated, mandated agreement is no agreement at all. It is a tyranny of dependence and intolerance, masquerading as a fight for justice which will never be realized.

The third problem leads us to find a different solution.

Perhaps … just perhaps … there’s a better way than the Currency of Offense. We could re-discover the Economy of Free Thought. Instead of trying to erase the tragedies of the past, what if we faced them honestly and invited everyone to a guilt-free dialogue about them? What if we sought to learn the right lessons by taking a blunt look at our history and having an honest debate based on documented evidence? What if we allowed free speech to flourish and truth to enlighten minds and change hearts?

If we stop trusting that Truth will prevail, and busy ourselves trying to right every offense, we will be hard put to find true justice for those who deserve it most. If the end goal is to eradicate offenses, we will never reach our goal. The currency of Free Thought removes the need to threaten people into compliance at the expense of their convictions and empowers them to find real solutions. An economy of Free Thought is naturally open minded and gives stability to any society, but the moment we start limiting free speech, we limit the ability of truth to triumph in society.

What if we let truth do its job in the hearts of people and trust it to win the day? What if we respected the differences in each individual and lived out the truth of our own convictions for others to see? What if we proved what we believed not by demanding that others agree with us, but by showing the results of truth in our own lives? What if, instead of trying to erase history, we learned from both the wisdom and the tragedy it teaches?

I’m “Just Sayin’,” there are those who have left their mark on our world, both good and bad. Our founding fathers weren’t perfect, but during the winter of 1786 and into the spring of 1787, James Madison and other delegates to the Constitutional Convention devoted months of research to the study of the triumphs and failures of previous governments and civilizations. They read hundreds of books in multiple languages, searching out the successes and failures of previous generations. Why? To learn from it and attempt to build a better future. The answer that the framers found wasn’t perfect, but it allowed for future generations to continue the process of building on a firm foundation. The proof of their diligence can be seen in the meteoric rise of an imperfect but freedom-loving people merely seeking liberty for their children, yet giving birth to the greatest era of prosperity and freedom the world has ever known. Perhaps, that simple, common sense, rail-splitting prairie lawyer, embattled and wearied by war, President Abraham Lincoln, put it best, when he wrote:

“Human nature will not change. In any future great national trial, compared with the men of this, we shall have as weak and as strong, as silly and as wise, as bad and as good. Let us therefore study the incidents in this as philosophy to learn wisdom from, and none of them as wrongs to be avenged.”

* Don’t miss my next article, “Free Thought: A Return to the Gold Standard” *

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