It appears to be Emerson month around here on a consistent basis lately.  And why notRalph Waldo had something true and helpful to say about just about everything.  He was therefore a man for all seasons.
Emerson was perhaps America’s most influential 19th Century writer and philosopher.  A quintessential American individualist thinker, his non-conformist and slightly Gnostic religious understanding was typical of his Transcendentalism.  He believed that consciousness, not matter, was the fundamental stuff and state of the universe.  His division of humans into two groups, the materialists and the idealists, recall the classical difference between Aristotle and Platothe one looking to the sensory world for answers, the other to the realm of consciousness as the ultimate source of our knowledge of life.  
Oh, what I wouldn’t give for a long discussion with the old man.  We should think he’d be pleased to know that his unique take on things is still appreciated 130 years (April 27, 2012) after his death. Being quoted would probably annoy him, however.  One of the many quotes attributed to Emerson is, “I hate quotations.  Tell me what you know.”  
He had a point.  But then he lost it again, right around the time he decided to impress upon that malleable consciousness of ours his own particular brand of perception.  Were he to object to being quoted, we might have to resort to using his own words against him:  “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.”  
Take that, buddy.  If we’re still crowding onto your front porch, that’s what you get for building a better philosophical body of writing.  What’s true for the inventor and merchant bringing new goods to the market also applies to the dealer in ideas.  He would surely have acquiesced, at least once we reminded him that, “The man of genius inspires us with a boundless confidence in our own powers.” Inspire, and you get quoted.  Live with it.  Or, if you’re long dead, as the great poets tend to be, deal with it anyway.  In Emerson’s case, it is the price of genius.
Ilona Goin

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or

prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The First Amendment spells out our most fundamental natural rights, and makes it clear that these are granted by God, not the government.  It thus lists the specific freedoms the government must take care not to interfere with, and which the Founders knew were both essential and most at risk: freedom of conscience and worship, speech and personal expression, association, and the right to keep the government on track serving the people.  

The simple, direct, and unequivocal words reinforce the over-arching idea of the Constitution’s preamble.  Through this enlightened document, which was designed both as a blueprint and road map for a free nation, “we the people” define exactly how to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”

Freedom is too important to be compared to a game, so we don’t mean to trivialize the matter, but it has to be said: Founders 1, Tyrants 0.

Clement Attlee was a lawyer, World War I captain, socialist, Labour Party leader, and Deputy Prime Minister from 1942-1945 under Winston Churchill in his war-time coalition government.  Attlee was to follow Churchill as PM from 1945 until 1951.

Despite his accomplishments, Attlee had a rather laconic, unimpressive personality more reminiscent of a bureaucrat or manager than a national leader in times of great change. While Churchill was on a bold mission to rescue the free world from the greedy claws of the German iron eagle, Attlee was more interested in civic life in Great Britain.  As a member of the Labour Party, Attlee stood for policies that were in opposition to Churchill’s conservative ideals.  

To Churchill, it must have appeared a little like the divide between the hunter husband battling off rival tribes and hunting fierce wild boar while his wife tended the hearth and waited for something to cook on the fire. Churchill was certainly well aware that there would be no society for Attlee to attend to, engineer, or micro-manage unless he himself succeeded in his hunt.

Churchill’s prey was of course the dictators of the 1930’s who became the despots on a quest for world domination in the 1940’s.  As one of the few with the foresight to see the evil trajectory long before the intelligentsia or masses caught on, he became liberty’s staunchest defender, the lion who would not back down even in the face of a pack of hyenashis own party members and countrymen, no less.  In true Churchillian style he “never, never, never” gave in, and the world was saved an ignoble fate.

Thus, when someone referred to Attlee as modest, we can understand why the courageous and colorful Winston Churchill, with his familiar dry wit and sense of irony, said: “Well, he has much to be modest about.”

 About 1 in 10 people worldwide is left-handed

 70% of New Yorkers define themselves as Christian

 12% of New Yorkers define themselves as Jewish, more people than live in the city of Jerusalem

 The history of the Easter bunny traces back to Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of fertility

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