Guest Post: “A Contrary View from Across the Fence”

Submitted by:  Mysterious X

Editor:  This is the first of what ARL hopes will become a series of guest posts from variety of folks with a range of perspectives, some contrary those here at ARL.  This particular guest contributor is a successful engineer who, by ARL’s standard measures, lives an “unreasonable life” in the suburbs of New Jersey.  It is his habit, however, to challenge conventional wisdom with caustic wit and, as such, his contributions are welcomed here.

Thank goodness I found this site. I thought I had a reasonable life. Happily married to the same woman for over 25 years, two great kids who aren’t on drugs or deadbeats and a job that is both challenging and rewarding.

But wait…I live in the suburbs. I have an armchair (that I love). I work in an office building (I guess it’s sterile even though it has people in it. At this point I’m too shell-shocked at my complete lack of judgement – I mean look at my lifestyle – to know if the office building is or isn’t sterile). My commute is usually 25 minutes on 12.5 miles of divided highway, but it can stretch to 45 – 60 minutes.

So I sit in my comfortable armchair hoping that one of your one toothed rifle toting brethren will come by and put me out of my misery. How could I have believed I was happy?

Which me brings me to the first tenet of “a reasonable life”:  Don’t judge.

Each of us is entitled to the pursuit of happiness, but the pursuit isn’t limitless. If you’re Jeffrey Dahmer and live next door to me, you are not entitled to eat my children. Your pursuit has caused me pain, suffering and loss, which is not acceptable.

Now, having established that pursuit of happiness doesn’t include inflicting pain on others, we can examine judgement.

If you choose to live in a Unabomber cabin or a 2-hole outhouse with a hammock, good for you. You haven’t harmed me by your choice. While I wouldn’t choose that lifestyle for myself, who am I to judge your choice?

If you want to be a free range Vegan and only eat fruit and vegetable that have fallen to the ground, go for it as long as you don’t harm me by forcing me to follow your regimen. (Side note: If a vegan came to my house I would bend over backward to make sure they had appropriate choices of food. Likewise, if a Jewish friend came to visit I would make sure Kosher food is available. But, if I go to a vegan’s house I am expected to eat grass and grain only. I hate hypocrites).

So, in my mind, you can not lead a reasonable life if you are judging others who haven’t harmed anyone.

Well, I’m off to spend a miserable afternoon in my easy chair watching football on my high-definition TV. I’ll leave the front door open in case any one wants to take pity on my horrible existence and put me out of my misery.

– Mysterious X


9 responses to “Guest Post: “A Contrary View from Across the Fence”

  1. Pingback: News Flash: New Jersey man threatened by discussion of interests he does not share, vows to watch more TV. | A Reasonable Life

  2. M.
    We can talk about that, too, at our next heart-to-heart. Have you heard about ATMs?

  3. Yeehaw! It’s getting warm in here. Keep it coming Mysterious X.

    – M. Ragazzo

    P.S. They make flat TVs?

  4. HDW,

    My response here was to one of the posts (Note to Visitors, 9/26/10) that asking how people lead a a reasonable life. I am working my way through the other posts and may or may not have comments and/or objections.

    I probably wasn’t clear enough (it was clear in my head)…so let me elaborate.

    Yes, judgement is required in assessing whether another person’s “pursuit of happiness” is harming me or my love ones. Once I determine that it is of no consequence to me, I move on. I’ve heard it said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” I personally can’t even look at a rock at this point in my life, let alone pick it up and throw it.

    Mr T is walking a fine line. I’m glad he clearly stated “even if I won’t insist on stopping you.” For a moment I thought he might be a liberal in wolf’s clothing! He might be one of those people taking the toy out of my happy meal to protect me from myself! Let’s keep an eye on him lest he start regulating my stupidity (which, by the way, will require thousands if not tens of thousands of statutes).

    Mysterious X

    • X:

      No harm, no foul. Liberal? Perish the thought, unless you’re talking about classic liberalism, which is another matter altogether.

      As to regulating stupidity, I tend to believe that public expression (and ridicule) should be enough carrot and stick to keep people on the narrow path. I’d rather avoid the brute force of the state in most circumstances. Moderation of my free expression might also be wise, remembering that “an armed society is a polite society”. If I’m going to “throw stones”, I’d best have good cause.

      On that score, we’re mostly talking about civil discourse, not theological or doctrinal. I’m not comfortable casting those sorts of (religious) stones in the realm of political debate.

      I’d not expect a non-believer to moderate his behavior or belief, merely on the basis of my assertion that “the bible says a marraige is between one man and one woman”, for example. I might happen to hold that view, but if we’re talking about regulating behavior at all, the case best be made largely on the back of practical need, in conformance, of course, with appropriate constitutional and ideological foundation. In other words, let’s first decide whether a) there’s any practical benefit to be had and b) whether the state has a legitimate interest in the matter at all.

      My two cents. Harry Tuttle

    • X:

      By the way, you might get a better sense of both the limits to my own libertarian leanings and the underpinnings to my own definition of “a reasonable life” in these two prior posts noted below(among others).

      Cheers, HT

      “Living on the Libertarian Road”

      and “Your Reasonable Life”

  5. I’m curious whether there are specific posts that Mr. X takes exception to. I have a suspicion that he read the name of the blog and is a little fuzzy about the difference between a definite and indefinite article. His advice “Don’t judge” could not be worse. Judgment is the most useful of mental activities. Someone that didn’t judge could well end up living a life of HD television in New Jersey. Having lived in New Jersey, I understand his despair and confusion, but a cry for help like this is a necessary first step in any recovery.


  6. Mr. X:

    Nice of you to drop by and challenge our perspectives. There is much we can agree on, notably the generally libertarian perspective you express. We’re pretty big on the “live and let live” point of view here.

    However: In regards to judgement, well, all I can say is that informed judgement is a necessary survival trait. I might be willing to allow my neighbor to live however he wishes, but, I might have cause to criticize the wisdom of his choices, even if he’s the only apparent victim.

    I’m not one of those who habitually place much weight on the “collective harm” done by supposed “victimless crimes”, although I concede that we are, in fact, adversely affected by others bad behavior. That, to my way of thinking, is the price of defending personal liberty, which is a necessary pre-requisite for stepping-up to personal responsibility and, dare I say it, personal enlightenment.

    Example: Other’s willingness to take on more debt than I believe prudent will, in the best case, bid up the price of housing that I might buy. In the worst case, it might well destroy both my livelihood and the economy as a whole. So, even if I won’t insist on stopping you, I might see value in calling attention to the “error” of your ways.

    In specific regards to your personal definition of “a reasonable life”, I’ll not quibble over specifics, I’ll merely suggest that “winter is coming, Grasshopper”.

    Next: I hear you in regards to hypocrisy, although, I’d hope there are some limits to even what, I’m sure, must be your widely reknowned hospitality. To wit: there’s only so much accommodation we ought to expect either to get or to give to those around us.

    Finally: Regarding our “one-toothed, rifle- toting brethren”, all I can say is, “come over here and say that”.

    Thanks for your contribution.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s