Philosophy Quote of the Day

Thursday, December 16, 2010

For in truth it is life that gives unto life..

As we are already in the midst of the holiday season and Christmas is swiftly approaching, I would like to share some words from one of my favorite authors and poets, Khalil Gibran, on the virtue of giving.  I hope you enjoy this piece and that it speaks to you as much as it has always spoken to me.


Then said a rich man, "Speak to us of Giving."
And he answered:
You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?
And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the overprudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city?
And what is fear of need but need itself?
Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, thirst that is unquenchable? 

There are those who give little of the much which they have - and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome. 

And there are those who have little and give it all.
These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.
There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.
And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism.
And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue;
They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space.
Though the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth.

It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding;
And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving
And is there aught you would withhold?
All you have shall some day be given;
Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors'.

You often say, "I would give, but only to the deserving."
The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.
They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.
Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights is worthy of all else from you.
And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.
And what desert greater shall there be than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving?
And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed?
See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving.

For in truth it is life that gives unto life - while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.

And you receivers - and you are all receivers - assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives.
Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings;
For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the free-hearted earth for mother, and God for father. 

 I am, as always, most sincerely yours,

The Apprentice Philosopher

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mandatory Consumption?

As many of you probably already know, this past Tuesday a federal judge in Virginia struck down certain provisions in the recently passed healthcare legislation.  The decision largely centered around the requirement in the bill that would require every American to have health insurance coverage through a provider of their choice or by selecting a provider from a "national marketplace" both of which supporters of the bill say would provide ample selection for the public and would still allow for the competition the importance of which advocates of free market capitalism always preach to us. 

However, as several other federal judges have ruled in favor of the government on this very issue, it seems all but certain that the Supreme Court will eventually hear a case along these lines to settle the issue.  Indeed, it almost seems as if both the administration who so fervently supported and the vehement conservative opposition would prefer the issue to be settled by the high court.  Yet, the recent discussion around this decision has given me an opportunity to ponder some of the implications on both sides of the debate.

Some of you know that I was very much in support of healthcare reform, even to the extent that I was a big supporter of a public option (or even perhaps the creation of a totally public system to provide healthcare to every taxpayer) but the framing of this issue by some as government mandated consumption has given me reason to pause.  While I have been accused by some of my peers (as if it were some very profane word) of being a socialist because of my belief that certain industries (primarily such things as energy and healthcare) would serve the people better if they were nationalized, the idea of forced consumption still goes against something fundamental inside of me.  The idea that the auto industries spent billions advertising SUV's to hook us on something that many studies at the time showed that Americans distinctly did not want appalls me.

However, I can't help but see this is a possible exception to that rule.  In fact, if I had to guess, I would imagine that this same thing was true when several key Republicans first introduced the idea and have supported over the last few decades.  While I often view the medical insurance industry as crooked and exploitative in nature, it operates on the principle that a lot of people paying into the system allows for any given individual to pay a much lower premium and have more expensive health coverage covered under the assumption that most people will never need the most expensive of procedures.  Thus, if the government is trying to create any sort of national program based on an insurance model, it only makes sense that everyone participates.  While stances from both parties on this issue have been divided mostly on partisan lines (unless certain campaigns were otherwise funded by special interests who would either benefit or be damaged by the legislation), it is clear that (at least on principle) the mandate makes sense. 

This mandate doesn't mean that someone shouldn't be able to choose some sort of baseline coverage that is extremely inexpensive and may not cover much at all but requiring insurance makes sense if the government is to be involved at all.  It seems like it would make the system more efficient and would provide the best value for the money the taxpayers would be spending (either through a public option or through paying private providers).  Just like we require all drivers to have insurance coverage for their car (although for different reasons) it isn't unreasonable for the government to make such a requirement. 

While I admit that I might be persuaded by some arguments that show that such a requirement might violate certain principles of the Constitution, I cannot help but believe that the "mandatory consumption" argument simply does not hold water.  I welcome any comments or other thoughts on the issue.

Until next time, I am, as always, most sincerely yours,

The Apprentice Philosopher