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July 4, 2007 Essay:

To What Should We Pledge Our Allegiance?

by John Tennison, M.D., (essay copyright July 4, 2007)


As we celebrate the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, I find it valuable to review the contents of the Declaration of Independence.

The Declaration of Independence defended freedoms and unalienable rights, not nationalism.  The "independence" that was "declared" in the Declaration of Independence did not derive from being a citizen of a particular nationality or from a particular national affiliation.  Yet, somehow, over the years, the 4th of July has become a celebration primarily of nationalism, rather than of the underlying values and principles that lead to the founding of the United States.  This historical distortion is further exemplified by the erroneous belief held by many that July 4th, 1776, was the “birthday" of a sovereign nation state known as the United States of America.  However, if "nation" is defined as "a large body of people, associated with a particular territory, that is sufficiently conscious of its unity to seek or to possess a government peculiarly its own" (Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006), then July 4th, 1776, can rightly be considered the birth of a nation.

Although the phrase, “united States of America,” was used in the signed copy of the Declaration of Independence, the phrase was used in a generic sense to refer to the colonies that were united in their Declaration, rather than to refer to a sovereign nation state that existed at the time.  Since the phrase was not the formal name of a country or confederacy, the word “united” was uncapitalized on the copy that was officially signed on July 4th, 1776.  However, drafts of the Declaration of Independence that existed prior to July 4th, 1776 used the word “United” in its capitalized form, suggesting that Jefferson regarded “United States of America” as a formal title for the grouping of the thirteen states, even though the group did not constitute a sovereign nation state.  Moreover, in subsequent copies of the Declaration of Independence written by Jefferson after July 4th, 1776, he continued to capitalize “United,” suggesting that he wanted to include “United” as part of the proper name for the group of the thirteen states.

When ratified by Maryland on March 1, 1781, the Articles of Confederation established a confederacy formally known as "The United States of America."  However, even then, this confederacy did not constitute a singular sovereign nation state, as the second Article of Confederation stated:

"Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled."

            Thus, rather than being a national government, the government of “The United States of America" created by the Articles of Confederation was more analogous to that of today's United Nations.

The country known as “The United States of America” formally began at the point the Constitution was ratified by the ninth state of New Hampshire on June 21, 1788.

            The values and principles enumerated in the Declaration of Independence justified the rebellion against the British government.  Even today, it is these original values and principles that deserve our unwavering allegiance, and not necessarily the government of a particular country.  The authors of the Declaration of Independence were very clear on this point when they wrote:

"We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness - That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

Thus, to the extent that a government of a particular nation no longer honors the rights and freedoms recognized by the Declaration of Independence, such a government no longer deserves the allegiance of its citizens.  Consequently, on this July 4th, 2007, I ask the question, "To what should we pledge our allegiance?"

In 1892, Francis Bellamy, the author of the original Pledge of Allegiance, placed more emphasis on pledging allegiance to an abstract symbol, a flag, (as well as "the Republic for which it stands") than to the "liberty and justice for all," which are mentioned only at the very end of the Pledge.  Pledging allegiance to a flag draws attention away from the more important underlying principles that actually deserve an explicit declaration of our allegiance, such as recognizing and honoring universal rights and freedoms.  Indeed, "liberty and justice" are more deserving of having been the first principles mentioned, rather than the last ones mentioned in the Pledge of Allegiance.  Bellamy’s mentioning the flag first in his Pledge stems largely from the fact that the original Pledge was part of an advertising campaign to sell U. S. flags in the children’s magazine, Youth's Companion.

Moreover, since a flag's meaning can be ambiguous or can even change over time, pledging allegiance to an abstract symbol, such as a flag, is at best an ambiguous declaration that is easily misunderstood.  For example, opinions as to what the United States flag means vary considerably throughout the world.  For some, especially United States citizens, the flag still symbolizes "liberty and justice for all."  However, some United States citizens have ceased to regard the flag as a symbol of the principles laid out in the Declaration of Independence.  Moreover, given the activity of our government and military in various locations throughout the world, the United States flag has come to symbolize imperialism and attempts at world dominion for many.

Moreover, within the United States, the U.S. flag has become a political symbol worn and displayed by both “conservatives” and “liberals” to suggest that they somehow stand for something more "patriotic" or more "American" as compared to others.  Clearly, in such instances, displayers of the flag are projecting their own political meanings onto the flag, which demonstrates that the flag has ceased to be identified with a specific set of principles for which there is a universal consensus.  In fact, the only meaning of the United States flag for which where is a universal consensus is that of a symbol signifying the legal entity of the United States, in the same way the initials “U.S.” also signify the United States.

Another instructive example of a flag whose meaning became highly ambiguous and thus, offers an important lesson into the kind of metamorphosis a flag can suffer, is the Confederate Flag as used by the Confederate States during the Civil War of the United States.  To some the Confederate flag now symbolizes a racist or even pro-slavery stance, while to others, it represents the memory of those who lost their lives in the deadliest war so far on the North American continent.

Another lesson about flags can be taken from my home state of Texas.  In Texas, a perennial historical exercise is to recall the fact that flags from six different nations have flown over Texas, including that of France, Spain, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America, and the United States of America.  When I think about these historical flags of Texas, I also appreciate the fact that it doesn't matter what country's flag is flying above my head as long as I have my freedom.  As long as our freedoms and liberties are intact, the country or state of which we are citizens is a mere formality.

Moreover, imagine if the Founding Fathers of the United States had been distracted by a tradition of reciting a “Pledge of Allegiance" to the British flag, or to the monarchy for which it stood.  If so, they would have been less focused on the fact that their own government was not representing them or honoring their unalienable rights, freedoms, and liberties.

Clearly, pledging allegiance to abstract and ambiguous symbols, such as flags, is problematic and should be avoided.  Fight for freedom, not flags.

Examination of the Declaration of Independence also reveals that the Pledge is not only to "the flag," but also "to the Republic for which it stands."  At first glance, pledging allegiance to "the Republic" might seem like a more robust pledge with less of a chance of such an allegiance being misunderstood or having the potential for a changing meaning over time.  However, merely calling the United States a "Republic" does not guarantee that the country is indeed a "Republic."  For example, I have always understood the word "republic" to mean a form of government where representatives are elected to represent the will and interests of the people.  Yet, in my lifetime, the actions of politicians are far more representative of the interests of big money than of the will or interest of the people.  The "Republic" for which the Pledge claims our flag stands appears to have very little existence.  Another example of where the use of the word "republic" contradicts the actual form of government practiced is in the case of the so-called People's Republic of China.

Moreover, to the extent the concept of a "republic" has inspired "Republican" political parties, it is instructive to examine the "Republican Party" of Thomas Jefferson, and the later "Republican Party" of Abraham Lincoln.   Both of these so-called "Republican" parties were a far cry from the current-day Republican Party that is largely controlled by the interests of big business and by religious zealots.  Such current-day extremes in the Republican Party can be witnessed in my own state of Texas, where the Republican Party of Texas pledges to "dispel the myth of separation of church and state" in a section of its official platform ironically titled, "SAFEGUARDING OUR RELIGIOUS LIBERTIES."

Another example of how pledging allegiance to a so-called "republic" or even to a so-called "democracy" can be problematic comes from examining the history of France.  For example, pledging allegiance to France at the beginning of the French Revolution would have suggested dedication to an entirely different set of values and principles than to have pledged allegiance to France during the time at which the revolution had devolved into a reign of terror, or during Napoleon’s reign of power. 

Thus, to mindlessly go on generation after generation pledging allegiance to a "Republic," rather than to specific values and principles, is potentially just as ambiguous and problematic of a declaration as pledging allegiance to an abstract symbol, such as a flag.

Although the original "Pledge of Allegiance" of 1892 was problematic even in it its original form, it became even worse when the phrase "under God" was added in 1954 during the Cold War to imply that God somehow supported the actions of our government more than the governments of other countries.  To the extent the Pledge of Allegiance has been adopted by taxpayer-supported institutions, the phrase, "Under God," has served to further erode the "wall of separation between church and state," of which Thomas Jefferson eloquently wrote in 1802.

As a citizen desirous of celebrating the original intent of the Declaration of Independence and as a citizen deeply concerned about erosion of the wall of separation between church and state, I have written a new version of The Pledge of Allegiance.  However, I have decided to call it "The Freedom Pledge," so as to make more explicit the principles to which one should be dedicated, rather than use the word “allegiance” in its name, and thereby suggest that submission to authority was more important.  That is, when Bellamy used the word “Allegiance” in the name of his pledge, he called greater attention to allegiance itself, or submission to authority, rather than to have called attention to more important principles, such as freedom, liberty, rights, or justice.

The Freedom Pledge is intended to be a non-sectarian statement that recognizes universal rights and freedoms that naturally exist, rather than having been legally derived from an affiliation with a particular nation.

The Freedom Pledge


                                                                            “I pledge allegiance to the freedom of the united people of the world,

                                                                            and to the unalienable rights for which they stand,

                                                                            one indivisible humanity practicing liberty and justice for all.”


Happy Independence Day!

John Tennison's "This I Believe" Essay (June 26, 2007)

This essay can also be found online at

People often use and react to words because of the emotions and behaviors words cause, rather than react to or seek clarification of the meaning of words used by someone.

These reactions can have drastic consequences, such as when politicians manipulate voting behavior by labeling their opponents as “liberals” or “conservatives,” which is often calculated to divert voters’ attention away from considering what politicians actually stand for or what politicians will do once they gain office.

The lack of precision of meaning in our conversations is also evident in the usually meaningless extra words that are inserted into spoken sentences, such as, “like,” “kind of like,” “sort of,” “you know,” and the classic “know what I’m sayin’?” It was sort of, like, you know, kind of like, well, you know what I’m sayin’.

Philosophers have traditionally pointed out the importance of defining our terms BEFORE beginning a conversation, yet most conversations occur with the implicit assumption that participants have the same understanding of words being used. Knowing up front what is meant by words used in a conversation is not just important in academic discourse, but in every single conversation we have. If there is any doubt, it takes only a few seconds more to ask a speaker what they mean by a particular word.

For example, I believe the word “believe” (when left undefined) is an ambiguous word that can potentially confuse the thinking of those whose use or hear it.

For example, stating what I believe could be a statement of my values, such as saying, “I believe in single-payer universal health care.” This is a statement of what I believe should ethically occur. This statement of belief does not involve taking a leap of faith or making any assumptions about the nature of reality that are not based on evidence. Rather it is a statement of what is clearly possible and of what I would like to see occur.

In contrast, another sense in which the word “believe” is used is when someone makes a statement in which they have taken a leap of faith about the nature of objective reality, usually with no evidence to support their claims. Such statements can be as seemingly innocuous as saying “I believe in God.” However, such statements of belief can also be dangerous when they have a prescription for particular behaviors, such as when someone believes their god wants them to kill, harm, or exploit others in some way.

Thus, when I hear someone use the phrase, “this I believe,” I believe I better dig more deeply as to whether they are making a statement of values (such as saying “I believe in the Golden Rule.”), or whether they are referring a leap of faith they have made about the nature of reality, especially a leap of faith involving a prescription for intolerance or behavior that might bring harm to others.

This I believe: “People should know what they mean and mean what they say.”

Know what I’m sayin’?

Two Kinds of Patriotism
Thoughts by John Tennison, M.D., on Veterans’ Day, November 11, 2006

When considering what is meant by "patriotism," I find it useful to recognize two kinds of patriotism:

1.  Elitist Patriotism

 Non-Elitist Patriotism

Elitist patriotism is the worst kind of patriotism.  Elitist Patriotism is a harmful, nationalistic form of patriotism holding that people of a particular country are somehow better or more worthy of having their rights upheld or lives saved than people of other countries.  Elitist patriotism fails to recognize "unalienable rights," the universal human rights described by the founding fathers of the United States (in the Declaration of Independence) as being intrinsic to all human beings, regardless of their nationality.  Instead, elitist patriotism is "elitist" because it only recognizes rights of people who are citizens or even a subset of citizens of a given country, such as those of a particular religion or race.  Instead of judging someone based on their character, elitist patriotism considers someone favorably merely by their legal status of being a member of a particular nationality.  Elitist patriotism tends to be indifferent to or even in favor of exploiting, harming, or killing people of other nationalities because other nationalities are regarded as having intrinsically less worth.  Elitist patriotism promotes conformity and is threatened by dissent and individuality.  Thus, elitist patriotism is incompatible with the views of founding father, Thomas Jefferson, who said, "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism."

Non-elitist patriotism is the best kind of patriotism. Non-elitist patriotism is a patriotism of good ideas, such as honoring life, individual liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and freedom in general.  Because non-elitist patriotism is a patriotism of ideas, it transcends national boundaries.  Because Non-elitist patriotism is a patriotism of ideas, it is physically unassailable by its enemies.  Yet, because non-elitist patriotism encompasses a set of ideas, it is assailable in situations where there is a lack of awareness, including situations in which there has been a lack of education or a systematic production of ignorance through propaganda.  Non-elitist patriotism practices inclusion, even for those who have dissenting viewpoints.  Non-elitist patriotism recognizes unalienable rights as belonging to everyone regardless of their nationality.  Non-elitist patriotism is focused on spreading its good ideas, rather than practicing imperialistic land grabs, or exercising other materialistic dominion.  Rather than create nationalist borders that define the in-groups of privilege and out-groups of deprivation, non-elitist patriotism seeks to universally extend its rights and benefits to everyone, regardless of their national identity or geographical location.  Of all the founding fathers of the United States, Thomas Paine probably exemplified the principles of non-elitist patriotism to the greatest degree.

As I reflect on the countless lives lost throughout human history defending elitist patriotism instead of non-elitist patriotism, I am reminded of the lyrics of John Lennon's Imagine:

Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

I am proud to be a non-elitist patriot who happens to live in Texas.

I imagine a day when everyone will have "nothing to kill or die for."

Telecommunications Companies:  A Threat to American Freedom

    The empowerment resulting from affordable high-speed internet access has been betrayed by American telecommunications companies, who failed to build the fiber optic networks they promised.  According to, "Korea and Japan have 100 Mbps services as standard, and America could have been Number One had the phone companies actually delivered. Instead, we are 16th in broadband and falling in technology dominance."  For United States Citizens to maintain our freedom, we MUST have unfettered, uncensored internet access with a bandwidth (speed) available for a cost that is in line with that paid by consumers in other countries.  Only then can we be empowered by the efficient sharing of knowledge, information, and ideas made possible by the internet.  Without internet access that rivals the speed and low cost available in other countries, our democracy and freedom will continue to suffer.  Moreover, without such internet access, propaganda campaigns will be more easily able to successfully mislead the American public, and thus, cause citizens to make misinformed choices when voting.

See for more information.

John Tennison, M.D. -- Former Libertarian Candidate for Texas State Representative, Fall 2006 Election

If You live in District 116 of Bexar County, Texas, see Project Vote Smart for Dr. Tennison's platform on a number of issues.  Most importantly, don't forget to cast your vote on November 7, 2006!

See KLRN (Channel 9 in San Antonio, TX) at 1:30 pm on Sunday, October 22, for a candidates' forum with Dr. Tennison.  The broadcast will re-air Sunday, October 29, 2006.

Voters' Guide for Evangelical Christians -- by John Tennison, MD

A Concrete Example of How the United States Deprives Gay/Lesbian Couples of Freedoms Enjoyed by Heterosexual Couples


NSA Domestic Spying Program Ruled Unconstitutional -- August 17, 2006

    "It was never the intent of the Framers to give the President such unfettered control, particularly where his actions blatantly disregard the parameters clearly enumerated in the Bill of Rights."


    "We must first note that the Office of the Chief Executive has itself been created, with its powers, by the Constitution.  There are no hereditary Kings in America and no power not created by the Constitution."

    -- U.S. District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor, whose ruling strikes down the National Security Agency's warrantless domestic spying program, August 17, 2006

“The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.” -- Thomas Paine, Founding Father of the United States of America

    Published before the Declaration of Independence in 1776, Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" was the first written work to explicitly call for independence from Great Britain through challenging the authority of the British government.

July 4, 2006 Essay:
Remembering Thomas Paine and Robert Ingersoll

By John Tennison, M.D., Libertarian Candidate for Texas State Congress, District 116, fall 2006 election (essay copyright July 4, 2006)

    On this Independence Day, July 4, 2006, I would like to remember and honor two great Americans, both of whom exemplified and contributed to the ideal of American Independence:  Thomas Paine (July 29, 1737-June 8, 1809) and Colonel Robert Ingersoll (August 11, 1833-July 21, 1899).

    As one of the founding fathers of the United States of America, Thomas Paine is generally better known than Robert Ingersoll.  However, relative to their actual insights and contributions, both Paine and Ingersoll are substantially under-appreciated.  Ingersoll was born after Paine, was inspired by Paine, and continued Paine’s tradition of rational, progressive, and free thinking.  Ingersoll was among those who recognized that Paine’s contributions to the founding and to the trajectory of the United States had been vastly under-recognized and under-valued.

    Although George Washington is often referred to as the “Father of our County,” Thomas Paine is every bit and perhaps even more deserving of this title than George Washington.  Even though Washington played an obviously important military role in the American Revolution, the idea of independence itself and the will to fight for it might never have taken hold or have been maintained during the American Revolution had it not been for Thomas Paine.

    In fact, prior to the efforts of Thomas Paine, neither George Washington nor Benjamin Franklin were in favor of independence from Britain.  In 1870, Robert Ingersoll wrote:

    “In May, 1775, Washington said:  "If you ever hear of me joining in any such measure (as separation from Great Britain) you have my leave to set me down for everything wicked."  He had also said:  "It is not the wish or interest of the government (meaning Massachusetts), or of any other upon this continent, separately or collectively, to set up for independence."  And in the same year Benjamin Franklin assured Chatham that no one in America was in favor of separation. As a matter of fact, the people of the colonies wanted a redress of their grievances -- they were not dreaming of separation, of independence.”

    “In 1775 Paine wrote the pamphlet known as ‘Common Sense.’  This was published on the 10th of January, 1776.  It was the first appeal for independence, the first cry for national life, for absolute separation.  No pamphlet, no book, ever kindled such a sudden conflagration, -- a purifying flame, in which the prejudices and fears of millions were consumed.  To read it now, after the lapse of more than a hundred years, hastens the blood.  It is but the meager truth to say that Thomas Paine did more for the cause of separation, to sow the seeds of independence, than any other man of his time.  Certainly we should not despise him for this. The Declaration of Independence followed, and in that declaration will be found not only the thoughts, but some of the expressions of Thomas Paine.”

    “During the war, and in the very darkest hours, Paine wrote what is called "The Crisis," a series of pamphlets giving from time to time his opinion of events, and his prophecies. These marvelous publications produced an effect nearly as great as the pamphlet ‘Common Sense.’ These strophes, written by the bivouac fires, had in them the soul of battle.”

    In the same 1870 article, Ingersoll also wrote the following of Thomas Paine:

    “He was the first to suggest a union of the colonies.  Before the Declaration of Independence was issued, Paine had written of and about the Free and Independent States of America.  He had also spoken of the United Colonies as the ‘Glorious Union,’ and he was the first to write these words: ‘The United States of America.’”

    Ingersoll is probably correct in claiming that Paine was the first to write the exact phrase, "The United States of America, " in that Paine chose to capitalize the word, "The" in the second of Paine's American Crisis papers published on January 13, 1777.  However, in drafts of the Declaration of Independence that existed prior to July 4th, 1776, Jefferson had used the phrase "the United States of America," leaving "the" uncapitalized, while capitalizing "United," "States," and "America."  This choice of capitalization suggests that Jefferson desired to establish a proper name for the group of the thirteen states that used the word, "United" in its formal name.  Yet, the official signed copy of the Declaration of Independence used "the" and "united" in their uncapitalized, generic form, not as part of a proper name for the group of thirteen states.

    Even if we are to let George Washington keep his title of “Father of our Country,” we would be well justified in applying an equally laudatory label to Thomas Paine.  I have considered several possibilities: Co-Father of Our Country, Grandfather of Our Country, etc., but at this time my favorite title for Thomas Paine is:

Thomas Paine, Father of American Independence

    Not only was Thomas Paine the Father of American Independence, in 1870, Ingersoll listed various firsts and accomplishments of Paine that were prophetic in defining the direction the United States should and did take:

    In August of 1775, Paine wrote a plea for the rights of Women, the first ever published in the new world.

    Regarding the issue of slavery, Ingersoll wrote in 1870:

    “On the 2d day of November, 1779, there was introduced into the Assembly of Pennsylvania an act for the abolition of slavery. The preamble was written by Thomas Paine. To him belongs the honor and glory of having written the first Proclamation of Emancipation in America -- Paine the first, Lincoln the last.”

    In that same article, Ingersoll also wrote:

    “Paine, of all others, succeeded in getting aid for the struggling colonies from France. ‘According to Lamartine, the King, Louis XVI., loaded Paine with favors, and a gift of six millions was confided into the hands of Franklin and Paine. On the 25th of August, 1781, Paine reached Boston bringing two million five hundred thousand livres in silver, and in convoy a ship laden with clothing and military stores.’”

    Without the financial and military assistance from France, the American Revolution would likely have been lost.  The diplomacy by Paine and Franklin in France not only spread a desire for independence from tyranny in Europe, but also resulted in a direct strengthening of the American Revolutionary forces to the degree that the American war for independence was won.  Specifically, without the defeat of Admiral Thomas Graves' British naval fleet in the Chesapeake Bay by the French naval fleet commanded by Admiral de Grasse, George Washington probably would not have been able to force the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown.  This surrender is the event that is generally regarded as having won the American Revolution.  Thus, in addition to remembering the contributions of Thomas Paine, we should never forget the contributions of France to the existence of the United States of America.

    Thomas Paine understood that the term “unalienable right” as defined in the Declaration of Independence applied to all human beings, not just citizens of the newly emerging United States of America.  Consequently, when the American Revolution appeared to have secured a future for a new country, Thomas Paine turned his attention back towards Europe.  In 1870, Ingersoll wrote the following:

    “Paine was not a politician.  He had not labored for seven years to get an office. His services were no longer needed in America.  He concluded to educate the English people, to inform them of their rights, to expose the pretenses, follies and fallacies, the crimes and cruelties of nobles, kings, and parliaments.  In the brain and heart of this man were the dream and hope of the universal republic.  He had confidence in the people.  He hated tyranny and war, despised the senseless pomp and vain show of crowned robbers, laughed at titles, and the 'honorable' badges worn by the obsequious and servile, by fawners and followers; loved liberty with all his heart, and bravely fought against those who could give the rewards of place and gold, and for those who could pay only with thanks.”

    “Hoping to hasten the day of freedom, he wrote the "Rights of Man" -- a book that laid the foundation for all the real liberty that the English now enjoy -- a book that made known to Englishmen the Declaration of Nature, and convinced millions that all are children of the same mother, entitled to share equally in her gifts. Every Englishman who has outgrown the ideas of 1688 should remember Paine with love and reverence. Every Englishman who has sought to destroy abuses, to lessen or limit the prerogatives of the crown, to extend the suffrage, to do away with "rotten boroughs," to take taxes from knowledge, to increase and protect the freedom of speech and the press, to do away with bribes under the name of pensions, and to make England a government of principles rather than of persons, has been compelled to adopt the creed and use the arguments of Thomas Paine. In England every step toward freedom has been a triumph of Paine over Burke and Pitt. No man ever rendered a greater service to his native land.”

    “The book called the "Rights of Man" was the greatest contribution that literature had given to liberty. It rests on the bed-rock. No attention is paid to precedents except to show that they are wrong. Paine was not misled by the proverbs that wolves had written for sheep. He had the intelligence to examine for himself, and the courage to publish his conclusions. As soon as the "Rights of Man" was published the Government was alarmed. Every effort was made to suppress it. The author was indicted; those who published, and those who sold, were arrested and imprisoned. But the new gospel had been preached -- a great man had shed light -- a new force had been born, and it was beyond the power of nobles and kings to undo what the author-hero had done.”

    The full text of Ingersoll’s article on Thomas Paine and other writings by Ingersoll can be found at:

    It is a dishonor to Thomas Paine that his image does not appear on any currency or coin of the United States of America.  It’s time to honor Paine by giving his name and face equal representation on currency, monuments, buildings, and memorials that have honored our other founding fathers.

    Besides honoring the contributions of Thomas Paine, Colonel Robert Ingersoll also did much to promote free and progressive thinking in the United States.  In particular, Ingersoll was known for his defense of agnosticism in what was often a context of religious fanaticism and intolerance.

    In fact, the place of my own birth, Bowie County Texas, once had a community named in honor of Colonel Robert Ingersoll. The fact that a community in Bowie County, Texas, was named after a free-thinking agnostic is remarkable in that “Ingersoll” (the place) was a rural sawmill community in northeast Texas, a place known for its post-reconstruction era lynchings and Christian fundamentalism. Thus, it is not surprising that a place named “Ingersoll” did not survive in Bowie County, Texas.

    According to Cecil Harper, Jr., in the Texas Handbook of History Online:

    “It [the community of Ingersoll] grew up in the mid-1870s around a sawmill operated by two men named Daniels and Spence, who named the community Ingersoll, in honor of the agnostic Robert Ingersoll. A post office was established in 1881, and by 1884 the town had an estimated population of fifty. In 1886 a big revival meeting was held in the town, which resulted in about 110 conversions. Shortly after the meeting residents of the town, no longer wishing to honor the agnostic, decided that the name of the town should be changed. They had just completed a new well that yielded red water, and the town was renamed for this feature. The name of the post office was not officially changed until 1894.”

    Thus, the community of Ingersoll fell victim to intolerant religious zealots who did everything they could to wipe the memory of Robert Ingersoll from Bowie County, Texas. I was born in Bowie County, I grew up in Texarkana, and I even seriously dated a woman who lived in Redwater, Texas [previously Ingersoll], yet I never heard anything about the community of Ingersoll until I began to research the history of Bowie County. I have asked numerous senior citizens if they had ever heard of the community of Ingersoll, yet not a single one of them had any such recollection. Nonetheless, Robert Ingersoll’s own writings, like those of Thomas Paine, have proven to be prophetic in their applicability to our world today. Although Ingersoll wrote extensively, I have chosen to present a few of the possible quotations by Ingersoll that reveal useful and desirable ways of thinking in our post-9/11 world. Specifically, Ingersoll wrote the following in 1889:

    “The average man adopts the religion of his country, or, rather, the religion of his country adopts him. He is dominated by the egotism of race, the arrogance of nation, and the prejudice called patriotism. He does not reason -- he feels. He does not investigate -- he believes. To him the religions of other nations are absurd and infamous, and their gods monsters of ignorance and cruelty. In every country this average man is taught, first, that there is a supreme being; second, that he has made known his will; third, that he will reward the true believer; fourth, that he will punish the unbeliever, the scoffer, and the blasphemer; fifth, that certain ceremonies are pleasing to this god; sixth, that he has established a church; and seventh, that priests are his representatives on earth. And the average man has no difficulty in determining that the God of his nation is the true God; that the will of this true God is contained in the sacred scriptures of his nation; that he is one of the true believers, and that the people of other nations -- that is, believing other religions – are scoffers; that the only true church is the one to which he belongs; and that the priests of his country are the only ones who have had or ever will have the slightest influence with this true God. All these absurdities to the average man seem self-evident propositions; and so he holds all other creeds in scorn, and congratulates himself that he is a favorite of the one true God.”


    “If we are to follow the religion of our fathers and mothers, our fathers and mothers should have followed the religion of theirs. Had this been done, there could have been no improvement in the world of thought. The first religion would have been the last, and the child would have died as ignorant as the mother. Progress would have been impossible, and on the graves of ancestors would have been sacrificed the intelligence of mankind.”


    “The same rules or laws of probability must govern in religious questions as in others. There is no subject -- and can be none -- concerning which any human being is under any obligation to believe without evidence. Neither is there any intelligent being who can, by any possibility, be flattered by the exercise of ignorant credulity. The man who, without prejudice, reads and understands the Old and New Testaments will cease to be an orthodox Christian. The intelligent man who investigates the religion of any country without fear and without prejudice will not and cannot be a believer.”

    “I believe in the religion of reason -- the gospel of this world; in the development of the mind, in the accumulation of intellectual wealth, to the end that man may free himself from superstitious fear, to the end that he may take advantage of the forces of nature to feed and clothe the world.”

    “Let us be honest with ourselves.  In the presence of countless mysteries; standing beneath the boundless heaven sown thick with constellations; knowing that each grain of sand, each leaf, each blade of grass, asks of every mind the answerless question; knowing that the simplest thing defies solution; feeling that we deal with the superficial and the relative, and that we are forever eluded by the real, the absolute, -- let is admit the limitations of our minds, and let us have the courage and the candor to say:  We do not know.”

    In a centennial celebration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1876, Robert Ingersoll stated the following:

    "We have retired the gods from politics.  We have found that man is the only source of political power, and that the governed should govern."

As can be seen above from this historical marker in Redwater, Texas, religious zealots changed the name of "Ingersoll" to "Redwater" in 1894, and thus, covered up an important example of the secular presence and history in Northeast Texas.  Given that Robert Ingersoll was admired by many of the most sophisticated minds in the United States (such as Mark Twain), this historical marker is ironic in that it falsely implies that the original mill workers were less "upstanding" in their "disregard for religion," and in their admiration for Robert Ingersoll, as compared to the later wave of "more upstanding citizens," who were "church-going," and who changed the name of "Ingersoll" to "Redwater."

    I hope that some day, every human being on the face of the planet will be able to govern themselves and enjoy their “unalienable” human rights as described in the Declaration of Independence.  May we all work together toward this goal.

Happy Independence Day, July 4th, 2006!

    "As Thomas Paine's 'Common Sense' and the Declaration of Independence will attest, the United States of America was founded on the principle of defying any authority that does not have the peoples' best interests in mind.  Such an authority could be a government, a church, a corporation, or any other abusive concentration of power." -- Nonjohn, Presidents' Day, February 20, 2006

For Those Who Call Themselves Christians:  Politically Relevant Teachings of Jesus Christ

What is "The News" and How Do We Know What is True?

“I came to see that 'news' is what people want to keep hidden, and everything else is publicity.”

– Bill Moyers, National Conference for Media Reform, St. Louis, Missouri, May, 2005

"Real news is the news we need to keep our freedoms." -- Richard Reeves, correspondent & historian

    "There is an infinite pool of information and/or knowledge that can be drawn from and reported as 'the news.'  A less pretentious expression would be 'some news."  In every case when 'the news' is presented, choices have been made to present certain details, while intentionally leaving out other details.  Even worse, conscious choices are sometimes made to intentionally fabricate lies that are reported as "the news."  Either way, consumers of 'the news' are often lead to conclusions that are untrue.  Since no single person can assimilate an infinite body of information, the best anyone can hope to do is to draw upon 'news' and information from variety of sources with conflicting viewpoints, especially viewpoints that differ from what we already believe to be true.  Only a fool would go about gathering 'news' from sources that are merely sought out to confirm what they already believe.  Thus, if you consider yourself a 'conservative,' you should be familiar with 'liberal' news sources.  If you consider yourself a 'liberal,' you should be familiar with 'conservative' news sources.  As long as you remain open-minded and allow evidence to be your leader, you will approach truth with great efficiency." -- Nonjohn, August 25, 2005

    "When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic." -- Dresden James

    "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.  The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie.  It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State." -- Joseph Goebbels, Adolph Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda

Twelve Contrasts between "Liberals" and "Conservatives"

a list of 12 contrasts revealing the variety of meanings intended when people speak of "liberals" and "conservatives"    by John Tennison, M.D. (AKA Nonjohn)    Copyright July 20, 2005


Nonjohn's 2005 July 4th Essay:

Are You More Free or Less Free?

by Nonjohn, Copyright July 4th, 2005


“Freedom” is not some abstract, feel-good word with no concrete definition.  “Freedom” can be concretely defined as “the capacity to exercise options.”  Therefore, having maximal “freedom” means having a maximal number of options available to you.

If you are a United States citizen, or if your country’s government contributed troops or other support for the war with Iraq, consider this simple question:

Have the Iraq War and Patriot Act made you more free or less free?

Because of the Iraq war and Patriot Act, Americans now have less capacity to exercise options across multiple areas.  Thus, as of today, July 4, 2005, there is no question that the Iraq War and Patriot Act have caused most Americans to be less free.

One obvious area of decreased freedom is the diminished ability to be and to feel safe when traveling the world because of the increased probability that hate crimes will occur against Americans, including possible torture and murder.  Even if these physical crimes did not occur, the stress and increased anxiety that an average American could feel when traveling to various regions of the world could have harmful effects on the brain, cardiovascular system, and body in general.  Yet, since most Americans partake in limited travel outside of their own country, they have been sheltered from potential hate crimes and stress that might victimize them if traveling to other regions of the world.  Thus, it is easier for domestically-situated Americans to ignore their loss of geographical freedom.

The only Americans who might be more “free” as a result of the Iraq war would be the minority of wealthy Americans who have profited from the war, such as by having interests in companies awarded lucrative government contracts.  These individuals have levels of wealth that allow them to travel while taking protective security measures more costly than most Americans could afford.  These wealthy few can use their immense wealth to shelter themselves from the hate crimes of which they might otherwise fall victim.  However, for the average American, this is simply not an option.

 Why Our Rights to Privacy are Important

Even before the Iraq war, the Patriot Act decreased the freedom of privacy for all Americans.  The Patriot Act allows the U.S. Government to spy on and even detain its own citizens without due process.  Such actions are blatant violations of the sacred rights promised by the Constitution of the United States.  One can easily imagine scenarios where intellectual property could be stolen from an entrepreneurial or otherwise creative citizen by a corrupt spy in the government who had ties to competing business or other interests.  Since corporate infiltration and influence of the United States government is substantial, this scenario is a very real possibility.  If it is possible to imagine how a crime could be perpetrated, it is usually only a matter of time before such crimes are committed.  Yet, these crimes could easily be prevented if Americans stood together and demanded their Constitutional rights to privacy.  However, when people are fearful, they are easily manipulated.  Unfortunately, corrupt individuals in the United States government continue to use 9/11 as a means to manipulate Americans into feeling fear, and thus into placing their blind trust in the Patriot Act and into supporting the Iraq war.  Despite any supporting evidence, in his speech of June 28, 2005, President Bush continued to imply that Iraq had a causal role in the events of 9/11.

How Stupid Do They Think We Are?

President Bush, White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, General John Vines, and other Iraq war supporters continue to promote the absurd notion that we must “fight the terrorists over there so we don’t have to fight them here.”  Specifically, said the following in his speech of June 28, 2005:

"There is only one course of action against them: to defeat them abroad before they attack us at home."


"The commander in charge of coalition operations in Iraq, who is also senior commander at this base, General John Vines, put it well the other day.  He said, 'We either deal with terrorism and this extremism abroad, or we deal with it when it comes to us.'"

In trying to explain Bush’s speech, and in an attempt to justify the Bush Administration policy, White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, said on June 28, 2005:

"We are taking the fight to the enemy abroad so that we don't have to fight them here at home."

These quotations are examples of ludicrous attempts to justify the Iraq war.  Even someone with mild mental retardation has enough common sense to know that engaging an enemy in Iraq in NO WAY prevents them from coming to the United States.  9/11 proved that!  Moreover, if a significant number of "insurgents" are coming from OUTSIDE Iraq as Bush suggests (a disputed claim), these same people could obviously choose to go to other places than Iraq.  That is, if they are starting from a location outside Iraq, our military presence in Iraq in no way blocks them from instead traveling towards the United States!

It is as if the Bush Administration wants us to believe that Iraq is on the geographical path to travel to the United States.  In his classic reckless, arrogant, cowboy mentality, Bush wants us to think that by waging war in Iraq, we are "heading off the terrorists at the pass."  Meanwhile, with our attention and resources directed at Iraq, those who might really want to do harm in the U.S. homeland have continued opportunities to infiltrate our country and might have already brought nuclear materials past our poorly defended borders.

We are Paying for Our Own Decrease in Freedom with Human Lives and Taxpayer Dollars

Because of the war in Iraq, unjustified loss of thousands of lives has occurred, and many billions of taxpayer dollars are being wasted on huge military expenditures, including the funding of exorbitant government contracts.  The tax dollars of American and other “coalition” taxpayers are funding the decrease in freedom impacting all citizens of countries who have supported the Iraq War.  How much better off would we be if these human and monetary resources had instead been directed in ways that secured and advanced our freedom?

On this day that Americans celebrate their freedom FROM big government, may I suggest the following amended message to the popular bumper sticker seen frequently in my home state of Texas:

"God bless our troops, and protect them from the corruption and incompetence of their own government." -- Nonjohn, Independence Day, July 4, 2005

Another Suggested Change for a Popular Bumper Sticker Message:

"Freedom isn't free, but wars having nothing to do with our freedom are even more costly." -- Nonjohn, Memorial Day, May 30, 2005

Demand Definitions of Terms to Avoid Manipulation by Use of Divisive Political Labels

"I am neither 'left-wing' nor 'right-wing.'  I am neither a 'liberal' nor a 'conservative.'  I am a 'libertarian.'  However, it is always important to clarify EXACTLY what we mean by the labels we use.  Else, we are at risk of being manipulated solely by the emotions that labels can cause us to feel.  Sometimes these emotions paralyze further critical thought about what the labels might actually mean.  Moreover, labels are often intentionally used to cause people to shut up and to stop thinking for themselves.  Yet, philosophers, the professional truth seekers among us, continue to emphasize the importance of "defining our terms."  All to often, terms like 'liberal' and 'conservative' are used with very little consensus as to what these words mean.  Thus, given the relative lack of any universal consensus for their meaning, I usually try to avoid their use altogether.   Shorthand can rarely substitute for a longer narrative description.  Yet, I find myself still desirous of the elegance of some single-word label to at least suggest the scope of my own political views.  In this spirit, let me offer a few words about what I mean by 'libertarian.'

When I use the word, 'libertarian,' I mean it in the political sense, meaning one who believes in maximizing individual rights and in minimizing the role of the state, organized religion, or any other institution that would attempt to excerpt control over individuals.  Although some use the word, 'libertarian' to mean a belief in free will, I typically do not use the word in this sense.  In fact, in the broadest, most-inclusive frame of reference, I do not believe that free will exists at all.  Consequently, my lyrics in 'Cruel and Unusual Punishment' state, 'Nothing is free, not even the will.'  That is, everything is causally connected to everything else.  However, from a day-to-day, practical, and political standpoint, thinking and behaving in terms of 'free will' is desirable." -- Nonjohn

Noam Chomsky

"The struggle for freedom and independence never is completely over." --

Noam Chomsky, during the 93rd minute of the classic documentary film, Manufacturing Consent - Noam Chomsky and the Media

See the website of Noam Chomsky.  "Chomsky is among the most rational and articulate voices of dissent in the United States." -- Nonjohn

Edward R. Murrow

"We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home." -- Edward R. Murrow

"We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty.  When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it." --
Edward R. Murrow

See the film, "Good Night, and Good Luck," an excellent film nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award.  The film explores the role that Edward R. Murrow played in helping to fight the abuse of power by senator Joseph McCarthy.

Protecting and Expressing Your Freedom

"Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it." -- George Santayana

"Dissent is the highest form of patriotism." -- Thomas Jefferson, 2nd President of the United States & Author of the Declaration of Independence

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither." -- Benjamin Franklin, a founding father of the United States

"Love it or Leave it or Change it!" -- Nonjohn, July 4, 2004

"Disobedience, in the eyes of any one who has read history, is man's original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion." -- Oscar Wilde

"We must dare to think 'unthinkable' thoughts.  We must learn to explore all the options and possibilities that confront us in a complex and rapidly changing world.  We must learn to welcome and not to fear the voices of dissent.  We must dare to think about 'unthinkable things' because when things become unthinkable, thinking stops and action becomes mindless." -- James William Fulbright, U.S. Senator from Arkansas

"The men who create power make an indispensable contribution to the nation's greatness.  But the men who question power make a contribution just as indispensable, for they determine whether we use power or power uses us." -- John F. Kennedy, 1961

Freedom in Contrast to Nationalism

"A True Patriot is more interested in freedom than in nationalism." -- Nonjohn, February 21, 2005

"The preservation of freedom is more important than the preservation of any nation's sovereignty, including that of the United States of America." -- Nonjohn, February 21, 2005

"When the Know-Nothings get control, it [the Declaration of Independence] will read: 'All men are created equal except negroes, foreigners, and Catholics.'  When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy." -- Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States, in a letter to Joshua F. Speed, August 24, 1855

Honoring Freedom of Religion

"Despite a high percentage of United Sates citizens declaring themselves to be 'Christians,' the United States is not a 'Christian Nation.'  Instead, the founding fathers of the United States made it VERY CLEAR that, so long as such viewpoints did not infringe on the rights of others, the government of the United States was to remain neutral with regard to all religious and even atheistic viewpoints." -- Nonjohn, September 11, 2004

"As the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims] ... it is declared ... that no pretext arising from religious opinion shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries." -- Treaty with Tripoli, ratified by congress and signed by John Adams, 2nd President of the United States, one of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, 1797

"To discriminate against a thoroughly upright citizen because he belongs to some particular church, or because, like Abraham Lincoln, he has not avowed his allegiance to any church, is an outrage against that liberty of conscience which is one of the foundations of American life." -- President Theodore Roosevelt, November 9, 1908

"Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by a difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought to be deprecated." -- George Washington, 1st President of the United Sates, October 20, 1792

Difference of opinion is advantageous in religion.  The several sects perform the office of a censor morum over each other." -- Thomas Jefferson, 1782, 3rd President of the United States & Author of the Declaration of Independence

Freedom arises from a multiplicity of sects, which pervades America, and which is the best and only security for religious liberty in any society." -- James Madison, June 12, 1788, 4th President of the United States, and Signer of the Declaration of Independence

"I am for freedom of religion and
against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another." -- Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States & Author of the Declaration of Independence, January 26, 1799

"When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obliged to call for help of the civil power, 'tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one." -- Benjamin Franklin

"Any political movement directed against any body of our fellow-citizens because of their religious creed is a grave offense against American principles and American institutions.  It is a wicked thing either to support or oppose a man because of the creed he professes.  This applies Jew and Gentile, to Catholic and Protestant, and to the man who would be regarded as unorthodox by all of them alike.  Political movements directed against men because of their religious belief, and intended to prevent men of that creed from holding office, have never accomplished anything but harm.  Such a movement directly contravenes the spirit of the Constitution itself.  Washington and his associates believed that it was essential to the existence of this Republic that there should never be any union of Church and State; and such union is partially accomplished whenever a given creed is aided by the State or when any public servant is elected or defeated because of his creed.  The Constitution explicitly forbids the requiring of any religious test as a qualification for holding office.  To impose such a test by popular vote is as bad as to impose it by law.  To vote either for or against a man because of his creed is to impose upon him a religious test and is a clear violation of the spirit of the Constitution." -- President Theodore Roosevelt, October 12, 1915

"I hold that in this country there must be complete severance of Church and State; that public moneys shall not be used for the purpose of advancing any particular creed; and therefore that the public schools shall be nonsectarian and no public moneys appropriated for sectarian schools." -- President Theodore Roosevelt, Address, Carnegie Hall, October 12, 1915

"I don't want to see religious bigotry in any form.  It would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious fundamentalists and the political right.  The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it." -- Reverend Billy Graham, Parade, February, 1981

To learn more about what you can do protect the freedoms afforded by the Separation of Church and State, see the following two websites:

Americans United for Separation of Church and State                Project Fair Play

The Electoral Process

"Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear.  It is the Nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law." -- United States Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens (after the United States Supreme Court vote of 5 to 4 stopped the state of Florida from recounting all of its votes from the 2000 Presidential Election.)

"The United States Presidential election in November of 2004 was the most important U.S. Presidential election since the U. S. Civil War." -- Nonjohn

"If we can eliminate election fraud and the Electoral College, every vote can count.  Demand legislation requiring verifiable paper receipts for all electronic voting machines.  Support a Constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College.  See the Libertarian Party, the ACLU, Democracy Now, Project Vote Smart, and to see what you can do to advance TRUE democracy." -- Nonjohn

It's O.K. to Criticize the President!

"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants.  He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole.  Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right.  Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile.  To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.  Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else.  But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else." -- President Theodore Roosevelt, 1912

"Patriotism means to stand by the country.  It does not mean to stand by the President." -- President Theodore Roosevelt

The comments above from President Theodore Roosevelt stand in contrast to the following comments made by George W. Bush:

"I'm the commander in chief, see, I don't need to explain, I do not need to explain why I say things.  That's the interesting part about being president.  Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation." -- George W. Bush (from book "Bush at War" by Bob Woodward)

The Potential for Incompetence in Government

"Ridicule is often the only weapon remaining to conscious inferiority." -- F. H. Cowles, Gains Verres:  An Historical Study

"In politics, stupidity is not a handicap." -- Napoleon

"It is error alone which needs the support of government.  Truth can stand by itself." -- Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States, and author of the Declaration of Independence

The Potential for Corruption in Government

“Governments can become corrupt.  Moreover, the word 'country' is an ambiguous word that can refer to a place, a population, or a government.  Therefore, ask NOT what you can do for your ‘country.’  Ask what you can do to help other people.  Ask how you can improve the places where people live and about which they care.  Ask how you can promote everyone's personal freedom.  Ask whether your government is hurting or helping these causes.  Once you know of answers to these four questions, translate this knowledge into action.” – Nonjohn, July 4, 2004

"History has shown, over and over, that once government has the power to violate one right of one person or group, then no right is safe for any person or group.  That’s the lesson we’ve been trying to teach yet again in the current climate -- that it’s not only wrong to demonize young Muslim men from certain countries, but also, that everyone else has a direct personal stake in righting this wrong." -- Nadine Strossen, ACLU President, Author of bestseller, "Defending Pornography," Magna Cum Laude graduate of Harvard Law School, and Professor of Law, New York Law School -- June 13, 2003

"Due Process is Process Due." -- Nonjohn        "Secrecy is the worst enemy of Due Process." -- Nonjohn

"It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from the government." -- Thomas Paine

“Many modern-day celebrations of the 4th of July have been corrupted into celebrations of militarism, rather than being celebrations of personal freedom.  To remember the real meaning of the 4th of July, we need only read the Declaration of Independence.” -- Nonjohn, July 4, 2004

"We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness - That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." -- Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson, 1776

"Even if power and authority initially result from meritorious processes, history has shown time and time again that any concentration of power has eventually become corrupt when allowed to persist unchecked.  Such a concentration of power is at risk of using power itself, rather than merit, to perpetuate itself and further its corrupt goals.  The extent of harm resulting from this power will be in proportion to the magnitude of accumulated power.  Therefore, power and authority do NOT deserve your blind trust or respect.  Power and authority deserve your steadfast scrutiny and skepticism." -- Nonjohn, July 4, 2004

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." -- Lord Acton

"Super power corrupts superbly." -- Nonjohn, September 11, 2004

"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it.  Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or exercise their revolutionary right to overthrow it." -- President Abraham Lincoln

“Always to be right, always to trample forward, and never to doubt, are these not the great qualities with which dullness takes the lead in the world?” – Thackeray, Vanity Fair, XXXV

"I believe there's something out there watching over us.  Unfortunately, it's the government." -- Woody Allen

Manipulation by Fear

"Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear - kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor - with the cry of grave national emergency.  Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it." -- General Douglas MacArthur, 1957

The Price of Not Participating in Politics

"One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors." -- Plato

"All politics are based on the indifference of the majority." -- James Reston

"What we will remember is not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." -- Reverend Martin Luther King

"Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you." -- Pericles

"Those who do not do politics will be done in by politics." -- French Proverb

"A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves." -- Edward R. Murrow

The Iraq War

Anti-War Rally in Austin, Texas, February 15, 2003 -- 16 Photos by Nonjohn

"I always support the safety of our troops, but often oppose what they are ordered to do." -- Nonjohn, September 11, 2004

"It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets." -- Voltaire

Remind Us:  Why did the United States invade Iraq?

The Cost of the War in Iraq

The United States Should Set an Example.

“When a country obtains great power, it becomes like the sea: all streams run downward into it.  The more powerful it grows, the greater the need for humility.  Humility means trusting the Tao, thus never needing to be defensive.  A great nation is like a great man: When he makes a mistake, he realizes it. Having realized it, he admits it. Having admitted it, he corrects it.  He considers those who point out his faults as his most benevolent teachers. He thinks of his enemy as the shadow that he himself casts.  If a nation is centered in the Tao, if it nourishes its own people and doesn't meddle in the affairs of others, it will be a light to all nations in the world.” – Lao-tzu in the Tao Te Ching (circa 551-479 BCE)

From the Cinema

"What if the democracy we thought we were serving no longer exists, and the Republic has become the very evil we have been fighting to destroy?" -- Padme Amidala, Star Wars Episode III, Revenge of the Sith

"So this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause."
-- Padme Amidala, Star Wars Episode III, Revenge of the Sith

Image of Nonjohn from Texarkana Gazette, Texarkana, Texas circa January, 1986

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