The Absence of Light

In the Absence of Light

I am embarrassed to say that I drove my car hauler, the source of my family's livelihood, not to mention the primary source of campaign funds (for now), straight into a rather large ditch. Not being one to allow a good lesson to go unlearned, I thought I'd take a little of your time to talk about it.

at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Ephesians 5:8-10

It was a dark night, the half moon covered by thick rain filled clouds. A few miles earlier, I had passed a fellow trucker and thought I noticed a flicker of headlights. My first assumption was that the driver I had passed had flashed the lights to let me know I was clear to move to the right lane. But, checking my mirror told me that wasn't likely the case.

I turned up the brightness on my panel lights, to better see my gauges. If I was having an electrical problem, I wanted to know it.

For the next few miles, I drove in a straight line, on a straight road, eyes moving up and down from the road to the voltage meter and back again. I had just about decided it was my imagination (or perhaps that truck I mentioned), when my last look up from the gauges left me looking at absolutely nothing but darkness. My headlights had gone OUT!

The dashboard lights and clearance lights were still on, but the headlights, BOTH of them, had inexplicably tripped their breakers and blinked out.

Now, based upon the information available to me just moments earlier, there was no need to panic, so I didn't. I recalled having recently passed the aforementioned truck, so I belayed my brain's first order to brake quickly and firmly, just in case that truck was directly behind me. I calmly turned on my right turn signal, looked to my right mirror, again thinking of that truck. When I looked back to the front, I was shocked to see, in the dim light of the clearance lights, a reflector post directly in the center of my hood, maybe 20 feet ahead and approaching fast. If I had to guess, I'd say something in the range of 65 miles per hour fast.

I remember thinking, as I pulled the wheel to the left, “How did I get from the center lane, on a three lane highway, to the shoulder, in the space of time it took to check my mirror?”

From there, it was a short, but exciting drive into the ditch.

All things considered, things turned out about as well as they could have. I was not injured at all. I won't be driving that truck for a long time though, if ever again.

Well, that's the drama. Now, for the lesson(s):

As a Christian, I am called to be light. Remember the verse from Ephesians? Most of the time, light goes unnoticed and unappreciated, that is until it's gone. Light is never an impenetrable barrier and almost always an effective tool for increasing one's ability to gather information. Even a small amount of light can be useful in a dark place. We can even use a pinprick of light (the North Star) to navigate from point to point around the globe; well, in the northern hemisphere anyway. As a Christian, I am called to be light all the time, not just when I feel like it. A brief failure of my headlights, maybe 10 seconds from lights out to out of commission, had catastrophic consequences. A brief failure on my part to be 'light' can have a similar effect on whatever random individual happens to be around to experience it.

But, here's the thing about light; the properties of light, as I mentioned earlier, make it a powerful tool for gathering information that, in turn, can influence the behavior of those observing it. But, it's properties do not allow it to exert force upon the observer to direct behavior. My headlights provided me with information. That's all. They didn't drive the truck. The truck went into the ditch because I was lacking crucial information necessary to good decision making. Just beyond the range of the lights, when they went out, was a gentle curve. Had my lights continued to be 'light', I would have had the information I needed. Of course, the driving would still have been up to me.

That's where I think many of us blow it. We behave as though we have been called to be something more than a powerful tool for helping others gather the information required to make a good decisions. Ultimately, it's that ONE decision, but our 'light' influences many other decisions the individuals around us make, every day. We have decided it's our job to make the decisions for them, and that is the weapon being used by politicians ON BOTH SIDES, to keep believers and non-believers at odds with one-another.

I have said in the past, “The Constitution is the religion of government”. My faith in Christ, as my Lord and Savior, and the Holy Spirit dwelling in me, is what makes me who I am. I understand that the only difference between me and (insert your worst example of humanity here) is that Holy Spirit. I understand it, because I spent the first half of my life on the other side of the equation. I don't expect, and scripture tells me NOT to expect, one who hasn't experienced the saving power of God to behave as I do. My job, should I be elected to the Senate, is not to force them to do so. My job is to protect everyone's right to make their own choices, while being an effective tool for the gathering of information (light), and by the grace of God, possibly inspiring some to want to know Christ as I do.

Christians and non-Christians alike should desire leaders who reverence both Christ and the Constitution. Christ, if we are serious about our faith, prevents us from behaving selfishly and immorally while in office. The Constitution prevents us from taking away your freedom to make your own choices, even if we disapprove.

Our Constitution, Our Fight

A few weeks ago, I had a very disappointing conversation with a friend. A conversation that is, unfortunately, far to common. He is, of course, aware that I am running for the US Senate, in Ohio. That is what spurred him to initiate the discussion. He spent a good ten minutes complaining about the condition of American politics. He felt, as most of us do, that the government that is supposed to be servant to the people has become tyrannical an unresponsive to the will of the taxpayer. He’s right, of course.

The troubling part of the conversation came when I asked him to take a petition and collect a few signatures from his friends and family, to help me gain ballot access. “I don’t feel ‘called’ to get involved in politics”, was his reply.

The balance of this note is to every American, complaining about the state of government and our political system, yet unwilling to help in even the smallest way to reform it:

I certainly do understand your frustration, even your apathy, to a degree. But, regardless of whether you are voting Democrat or Republican, you are the ones most deserving of a dysfunctional government. While I will give you credit for voting, if you are in fact doing so, you are hardly contributing to a “government OF, BY, and FOR, the people”.

Here is a nugget of truth I will share with you; I don’t feel ‘called’ to be a politician, nor do I desire to be one. I am, as we all are, ‘called’ to defend my own freedom and that of my family. If the best option for doing so means getting involved in politics, that is what I will do.

We have to understand that the documents that constituted this grand experiment in freedom, beginning with the Declaration of Independence, where purchased at great expense. Many sacrificed everything, even their lives, to usher in a period of unparalleled prosperity that would ultimately effect not just America, but the world. However, the blood that was shed then was but a down payment on freedom.

Our Constitution limits the degree to which government can intrude into our lives, by enumerating exactly what areas it is empowered to address. The Bill of Rights protects our liberty – the freedom of each and every one of us, individually. But, none of our founding documents have the power to protect themselves; that is our job. Each and every one of us is, by virtue of our citizenship, called to defend our liberty. If we aren’t willing to answer that ‘call’, we ought not feel as though we are entitled to any of the benefits that liberty brings.

…all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. (Declaration of Independence, emphasis added)

I am willing to be, not a politician, but a statesman. I am willing to fight to defend my freedom and that of my children and, by extension, yours. You don’t have to get involved in politics, but you do have to do something, if you want to maintain freedom, for yourself, your children, and your grandchildren. You decide what that something will be.

The Lesson from Paris

Last Friday’s terrorist attack against the people of France, and by extension all of Europe, demonstrates the value, to every American, of defending our natural right to defend ourselves. Note that I didn’t say “constitutional right”. The US Constitution’s Bill of Rights is not a list of citizens “rights”. It is a list of specific restrictions on government. In the case of the 2nd Amendment, a restriction on state and local governments, as well as federal government.

It is likely that there will, one day, be another coordinated attack against the citizens of the US. Likely, it will be similar in nature, though broader in scope, to the Paris attack. It is also likely, that it will be carried out in areas where states and/or municipalities have restricted the natural right of their citizens to defend themselves.

I have said since 2009, “the 2nd Amendment is your right to carry”. You can find it on the campaign website, ScottRupert.com. Catchy phrase; that’s why I use it. But, it is not “the right”. It is the fist on the table, punctuating the statement that American will ALWAYS defend themselves, and their country, and government will NEVER prevent them from doing so.

The attacks in Paris should cause us to give more thought to first phrases of the 2nd Amendment; A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State… . We the People are that militia. There is no realistic scenario in which our military fighting forces, as superior as they are to any in the world, can protect against a force that has silently deployed across the Union, awaiting it’s opportunity to rain terror on unsuspecting and innocent civilians.

It’s unfortunate, the victims in Paris were unable to defend themselves by any means other than running away. The French government will now fight to avenge their collective loss. Let it serve as a warning to those who seek to interfere with the freedom of responsible Americans to keep and carry, that gun laws do not prevent gun violence. When the theoretical attack occurs, the life that is saved by someone’s exercise of their natural right to defend themselves, may well be yours.

Constitution and Callousness

Machele, and I, spent last Saturday at Trader’s World, in Monroe, collecting signatures for ballot access. 329 signatures, in 8 hours, is pretty encouraging. More encouraging, is the enthusiasm individuals show, when they come to understand that I’m running as an independent. It’s inspiring to have a young man look me in the eye, shake my hand, and sincerely thank me.

Less inspiring were the handful of individuals who couldn’t be bothered for a few seconds, to consider signing a petition. It’s not that I mind someone telling me no. If, after asking some ideological question, one decides they would rather not help me get on the ballot, I can accept that. They made an informed choice. One gentleman said to me, as he walked quickly, not making eye contact, “I try not to get into politics.”. I didn’t engage him; couldn’t actually; he obviously didn’t want to talk with me. But, here is my response to that individual, and all who “don’t get into politics”.

If you don’t get into politics, what is your strategy for preventing politics from getting to you?

That is, of course, a rhetorical question. It is not possible to prevent politics from getting to us. However, thanks to the brilliance of the founders, we CAN control, what kind of politics gets to us, and in what amount. At least, we could, when we took our Constitution seriously. The power to control what kind of politics gets to us still exists, we just don’t apply it. It exists, for now. But, if we don’t start applying it soon, the power will be gone, for a very long time.

It is foolish of us to think that the politicians, we habitually send and resend to the seats of government would, after making a career of it, still abide by their oath to “support and defend” the Constitution. It is, after all, the only limiting force upon their power. Protecting the Constitution is our job. We often blame those politicians for the condition of government, when, in fact, the blame lies with us.

The Constitution protects us from federal intrusion, by limiting the areas in which it can influence our lives, but only if we the people enforce it? This is why the parties continue to create the illusion that they are acting on our behalf, and the reason for pulling us so far apart on the ideological scale. As long as we are far apart, and equally divided, they only have to contend with half of us, while the other half defend them. The wide ideological space between us prevents us from communicating with each other at a tone that is conducive to listening. We are shouting at one another, across a busy highway, when we should be talking to each other, across the kitchen table.

If we were to take the time to talk, we would likely discover that a vast majority of us actually agree on a many of the things we’ve been lead to believe we disagree. And, here is the secret they don’t want you to know: The areas in which we disagree; federal government has no constitutional authority to address. State and local governments certainly do, and we have greater control over them. But, our federal government was constituted to do just a few things, and to do them well. If it stuck to those things, it would be far less expensive and dysfunctional than it is today.

As long as we have a Constitution, I believe it is possible for the people to control government again! But, it will require work. Hard work, by a relative few (those who run for office), and a little easy work by everyone else (learning to research your candidates). It won’t happen by electing ‘new’ Republicans, or ‘new’ Democrats, in the primaries. It won’t happen by creating a new party. It will happen when Americans stop letting the initial next to the name determine their choice on election day. It will happen when we understand that protecting our own freedom means protecting our neighbor’s freedom, even if we disapprove of how they use it. When we understand that we can influence the behavior of those around us without making laws, simply by behaving ourselves in ways that inspire them, we can stop looking for candidates who promise to use the force of government to make America in our image and start looking for the few who will protect freedom for all.