Jefferson & His Enemies

To read Jefferson is not to read the archaic and irrelevant ramblings of a pile of bones. To read Jefferson, instead, is to read the warm correspondence of a curious old friend. I admit that to have such deep affinity for a man who died 165 years before I was born is, to put it mildly, strange. Normally when one thinks of heroes, role models, and intellectual father-figures or mentors, the mind travels only to the living and normally to the near. Nevertheless I do have a deep affinity for Jefferson and consider myself a disciple of the Enlightenment he held so close to his heart. Yet to speak of Thomas Jefferson in such glowing terms is to find that even he is not immune from the wrath of the Holy Order of Perpetual Offense.

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Why Write About History?

At our core, no matter who we are, the central themes of life are found to be worth preserving by us. Themes such as triumph, pain, happiness, love, and loss. By seeing clearly that the states of being that were a part of the people we read about in history are also a part of us, we see that the saga of man will always contain hope. Thus, to write about history is not to fall victim to nostalgia or idealizing the past, but to instill in people an appreciation of the here-and-now through tales of those who lived (and felt) before we did.

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There Is Beauty In The Finite

We all go through moments in life when life itself seems to have lost its flavor, its zest. Whether the moment in question comes when our alarm goes off in the morning and we wake up to the recurring realization that we hate our jobs, or whether the moment comes at a time of illness, or a bad breakup or divorce, or at a time of financial difficulty, sometimes we think— to steal a phrase from my grandmother— that life in its entirety is, and will indefinitely be, "the pits". When this feeling of existential drag occurs, we try to find ways of coping that are often ineffective: we shop till we drop, we overeat, we drink too much, or we move to a different place hoping that we won't follow ourselves to our new destination. But if you are wanting your life to go from black-and-white to color again, I would submit that there is an easier, cheaper, and much more effective way to make that happen: think more about your own death.

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A Not-So-Finely-Tuned Argument

Our world is a beautiful place, naturally speaking. Anybody who has walked the Serengeti or has wrapped their arms around a Redwood tree or has looked at a snowy mountain from afar or has gone scuba diving in an ocean knows this. The world is an incredible place teeming with "endless forms most beautiful and wonderful". The natural world can be so breathtaking in fact, that a single person, in awe of their own smallness in the midst of such grandeur, can feel that this beauty must be by design. Such a feeling is perfectly normal. How can one look at the Great Barrier Reef, or the multicolored-squiggles on the body of a Mandarin fish, or the speed of a hummingbird's wings, or the spots on a giraffe, or the spellbinding glow of lava pouring from a volcano, and not conclude that the world isn't one big lovely painting? And doesn't a painting require a painter? But there is a problem with viewing the world strictly through the lens of its beauty.

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Callousness To The Left Of Me, Dogma To The Right Of Me

There are blind spots in both the "pro-life" and "pro-choice" camps that to me seem to be big gaping holes in the argumentations of both, but rarely get addressed. The "pro-life" camp has a problem, I believe, with when they say life begins, and the "pro-choice" camp has a problem, I believe, with refusing to remark on when life begins at all. In order to tackle both of these issues, I've decided to remark first on the "pro-life" argument and then remark next on the "pro-choice" argument.

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