Ideas or Ideologies?

According to the dictionary, an "idea" is a "thought or opinion" which may be “formulated into a plan for action.”

An "ideology," on the other hand, is more like a "prescription for thinking" which prejudges whether an idea is "good" or "bad."

Liberalism, Conservatism, Judeo-Christian-Muslim-ism, Atheism, Anarchism, Capitalism, Environmentalism, Socialism and so many more... all are ideologies and many (taken at face value) seem diametrically opposed. Yet it seems to me that as diverse as these various ideologies may be, they all have one tenet in common: Ideologies promote opposition by sanctioning a “system of thinking” which preemptively pronounces that ANY idea which is different from its own is a form of forbidden fruit.

A short time ago, I chatted with a fellow editor about how it is possible for two intelligent, well-educated, mature and rationally thinking adults to look at exactly the same set of circumstances yet draw very different conclusions about what is going on. The subject of our conversation was the ongoing brouhaha at CWS… but our discussion could just as easily have been about religion, global economics or war.

And this conversation echoed in my head the other day when Skip, a reader from Texas, emailed me about my writings on liberty, expressing his strong opinion that I had “given aid and comfort to our enemies by promoting sites sponsored by socialists and Marxists.”

Being the first (and hopefully only) time that such assertions had been openly levied against me, I was somewhat taken aback. That is, as anyone who knows me “up close and personal” will attest, the only “ideology” I willfully subscribe to is “being true to my word.”

Yet somehow what I had written was provoking a thinking person to label me as somewhat  Hanoi-Jane-Fonda-esque. Thus I took Skip’s words seriously, ferreting introspection. Had I unwittingly stepped into a box of proscribed (socialist/Marxist) ideology? Was I irresponsibly giving “aid and comfort to our enemies”? Or was I, in the most forthright sense, simply being true to myself (including my comprehension of what is expected of me by that greatly magnificent and profoundly intelligent energy of the Universe that many of us call God)?

I wrote back to Skip, who I must say was a perfect gentleman in raising his objections to some of the links I had posted, and I invited him to share with me links to sites that he felt would be more supportive of the ideals of liberty and justice that (I believe) we all hold dear. And Skip respectfully responded that Town Hall   “would be a good start.”

So I went there this morning and had a long look around. What I found were a bevy of opinions, each of which the author thereof supported with his or her version of the facts and many of which ran quite contrary to the way I think about the ideas I hold dear.

And it became obvious that, in the mind’s eye of some beholders, my way (or your way) of thinking about some of this stuff is (patriotically) “wrong.”

Yet to me, there is no “wrongness” inherent to any differing point of view. There are, obviously, people with whom I may agree or disagree about the supposed value of doing (or not doing) certain things. And there are, of course, certain actions that I personally condemn as irresponsible, arrogant, deceitful and consequential of harm, just as there are things that resonate with me as beneficial, empowering, egalitarian and engendering of liberty, justice, dignity and trust.

And certainly, being human, I am definitely more likely to wantonly associate with folks who “see things as I do.” We all tend to “feel better” about life when the truths we hold to be self evident are being amplified back to us by our elected circle of friends.

But my personally preferred “ideology” has, for as long as I can remember, been to “damn the torpedoes” and move full speed ahead with positioning myself outside of any definitive box of ideology… which I know, at face value, seems like a contradiction of terms. And, I confess, it is a rather precarious position to hold, calling on me to willfully put aside conventional labels and traditional beliefs about almost every “idea” and essentially start “thinking from scratch” on just about every subject known.

And, in accord of my ideas about ideology, I must also be consciously aware that what I endeavor to do CANNOT EVER be PERFECTLY done because I am, as are each of us, a vessel filled with ideologies… most of which have been engendered in us since birth and thus, being dearly familiar habits, we shall never consciously question let alone logically explore.

But still my quest to do the undoable continues. Still I challenge myself to inspect the fabric that weaves together the coat of many colors worn by my soul and, perhaps more importantly, to look past this ideological cloaking device and discover the merit and virtue (or absence thereof) which resonates from the ideas found “within.”

Sincerely, this is the standard I use to evaluate any link I post to Gozarks… including the one sent to me by Skip. And for the act of doing this, I alone am accountable and thus duty bound to uphold my own ideas about the importance of “media” being a “conveyance” of “ideas” (not "ideologies)... especially when stumping “for” something in the overt capacity of “editor" because, whether I like it or not, I am aware that this is a powerful position to hold.

Thus I’d ask all of Gozarks readers, just as I request of myself, to evaluate the predisposition of the ideologies that each of us personally profess, considering:

  • Is it “for” or “against” (someone or something)?
  • Does it propose a “solution” (or simply harp about what's wrong)?
  • Is it “inclusive” (wishing the same healthy/happy "win/win" outcome for everyone, everywhere, all the time) or “exclusive” (supposing a "win/lose" hierarchy by and superiority of someone over someone else)?

In other words, look to see if what you're reading (and doing!) promotes  "ideas" or "ideologies." And then, each in accord of our own unique heart, decide unto self which of these many ideas we as a civilized, God-loving people shall choose to put into practice, willfully enliven and patriotically claim as our own.

Anyway, Skip... Thank you!!! Sincerely I hope you enjoy and celebrate with me the ideas about ideologies that your email hath wrought!!!

Virtual March on D.C.
February 26, 2003

Did you do it? Did you call your legislator today and express your strong feelings about the prospects of war...???

We did.

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Victory is ours...
The simplest and most profound definition of “victory” is “achievement of mastery.”

Yet the question begs, “Mastery of what?”

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Have you read the Declaration of Independence lately? Well, you should. Especially the part where those gutsy commoners, convened in representation of the “good People” of the Thirteen Colonies, declared unanimous authority to “conclude peace” and an everlasting dedication to the preservation and enactment of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Also note, our founders called the doing of this a “sacred Honor.”

It is in this same spirit of dignity and affirmation that I insist that we begin immediately to wage peace by DOING SOMETHING NOW to end all war. And I, personally, am starting by addressing these comments specifically to President George W. Bush:

Dear Mr. President:

I personally wish to thank you for being the impetus spurring what shall, with hindsight, be recognized as the most cohesively galvanized movement of liberty and justice activism to ever be recorded in the annuls of time.

I wish to acknowledge you for bringing to bear on the citizens of our great nation and of all great nations everywhere the first hand understanding that liberty and justice are the most precious and vital elements of life, more fundamental to our civilized well-being than are air, water, or food.

And I wish to encourage you to utilize the powers vested in you by our Constitution to take swift and immediate action to convene peace by promulgating a permanent end to war.

In this interest, I invite you to visit
Waging Peace where you will find a number of excellent ideas about the ways and means of committing assertive acts of good will.

In addition, I bring to your attention a special Gozarks
Liberty, Justice & Democracy section where you will find links to a number of individuals, groups and organizations which are raising excellent questions and forwarding superb ideas in support of global collaboration with this effort.

But mostly, I wish to respectfully request that you take independent action as a private citizen to participate in the “Win Without War” campaign by participating in a “Virtual March on Washington” to be held on February 26, 2003. You may accomplish this by simply clicking

And lastly, I wish to invite you and your family to join our family for a backyard bar-b-q celebration of this glorious victory, ushering in the resounding triumph of good over evil on that day when everyone, everywhere, breathes a huge sigh of relief because all warring actions have by mandate been ended, leaving only peaceful conduct to reign supreme forevermore.

Sincerely, I thank you for enlivening this preferred and desired reality with your unique personal effort, and also for passing this message along to all of your family members and friends.


Christine Louise Weiss
POBox 211, Shirley, AR 72153
HomeOffice 501-723-4322 
Gozarks: Everything Ozarks

Which way is up?
As I recently responded to one of Gozarks long-time contributors: Yes... there is some very bad stuff making the rounds.

She emailed to me a copy of a nasty note she’d received as an email pass-along (which I willfully refuse to reference further in the interest of NOT aggrandizing the proponents thereof), telling me that she found it upsetting. I found it disturbing, too.

On top of this, I had just received the umpteenth forwarded email request, plaintively beseeching me to "pray for our troops." And I was seething.

That is, at heart, I deeply understand the sentiment here. I have a man-child. Two, in fact. My heart shrivels with the thought that they could ever be commanded to make war. So of course, I would pray fervently in hopeful thankfulness for their well being. I mean really, I do this all the time.

But there is an equally deep part of me that feels offended and embarrassed by this continuing proposition that "we" are the "one and only good guys" and that God is thusly on "our side."

Moreover, I am annoyed that so many of us seem to be so aggressively eager to spread and endorse this brand of propaganda. Because it is ALL propaganda, you know. Even these words you are now reading which, at base line, do little more than express my own uniquely particular point of view.

It is all propaganda, and of this we must be critically aware.

I am frustrated that these massive efforts at "propagandizing" are not being focused on what I see as things which deserve to be propagandized about...

Ideas about liberty and justice, for example. Thoughts about our personal responsibilities to uphold our sacred creeds. Encouragement to be “accountable” by measuring and judging our every word, deed and interaction alongside whatever edicts we claim as our resonant standard of integrity, honesty and truth.

As one particular example of this, according to the Center for Public Integrity (which seems, if you'll take the time to check them out, like a highly purposeful and factually oriented group), is a report that:

"The Bush Administration is preparing a bold, comprehensive sequel to the USA Patriot Act that will give the government broad, sweeping new powers to increase domestic intelligence-gathering, surveillance and law enforcement prerogatives, and simultaneously decrease judicial review and public access to information."

As Dr. David Cole, Georgetown University Law professor and author of “Terrorism and the Constitution,” said in the above referenced article, the legislation “raises a lot of serious concerns. It’s troubling that they have gotten this far along and they’ve been telling people there is nothing in the works.”

This proposed law, Cole added, “would radically expand law enforcement and intelligence gathering authorities, reduce or eliminate judicial oversight over surveillance, authorize secret arrests, create a DNA database based on unchecked executive ‘suspicion,’ create new death penalties, and even seek to take American citizenship away from persons who belong to or support disfavored political groups.”

What I want to know is... where are the email chain letters alerting us to such facts and thereby empowering all of us "we the people" to shoulder our civic duty and safeguard our Constitutional heritage, as is our obligation and right…???

And at baseline, if it is NOT in defense of our Constitution, then for what other purpose do we as a nation rightfully entertain any thought of going to war? Because, Constitutionally speaking, the edicts of our Constitution are what we are, by citizenship, mandated to uphold, cherish and guard.

Moreover, even when focused on the theoretical eradication of a particularly malevolent "force"... what everybody seems to be forgetting is that (according to high school science) "the Universe HATES a vacuum." So, until there is enough "good stuff" going on to <<<PUSH>>> and >>>SQUEEZE<<< all the "bad stuff" out of existence (by attrition)... thus "filling up" the space this ugliness has occupied since the dawn of time.... well, once we've blown everyone's asses to bits, the electromagnet cyclotron with which we are all inexplicably intertwined will further bolster that which we've expelled and before you can say "Jack Rabbit," it will be sucked by the vortex right back into our face, "bigger and better than ever" all over... and over... and over... and over again.

I mean my God... has history (religion, science) taught us NOTHING??? Speaking of which... I have a riddle for you. It came to me by way of an email containing an essay attributed to Paul Harvey which alleges that "When asked this riddle, 80% of kindergarten kids got the answer, compared to 17% of Stanford University seniors." It goes like this:

"What is greater than God, More evil than the devil, The poor have it, The rich need it, And if you eat it, you'll die?"

Know the answer? Well, here's a hint: If I'm doing my job, you'll NOT experience it by reading this page, yet it is here in the text printed plainly for anyone to see. Anyway...

Getting back to those prayers, propaganda and war, sincerely, I thought we'd all grown up enough to KNOW that we are de facto planting the seeds for an increasingly abundant harvest of whatever crop we choose to sow. War grows war. Period. There are NO exceptions.

In light of this I want to know, where are the scores and scores of email chain letters that propagandize us to have total recall of this overwhelming education and dun us to enable ALL troops, every world leader and each person everywhere to live safely, be healthy and engender unanimity?

Where is the pass-along prayer that plaintively beseeches us to petition God to anoint ALL of us -- each and every one -- with wisdom, courage and loving fortitude, thus enabling us to wage, convene and celebrate global Peace…???

In other words, I want all of us to look in our hearts and ask ourselves the question: "Which way is up?" And, when we know the answer, I want is to "go for it!!!" (Over, and over, and over again.)

Christine :-)

Happy Birthday Alice!
Local media moguls and friends share birthday celebration with one of their own:

Standing, left to right: Larry Williams, from Bee Branch, Joanne Webb, from Mountain View, Lula Holeman, editor of the Pack Rat Gazette, from Formosa, Christine Weiss, editor of, Lori Freeze, editor of the Stone County Leader and Buzzwords literary newsletter, from Mountain View, and Daniel Weiss, from Shirley. Seated, left to right: Joyce Slaughter, from Clinton, Alice Chambers, "the birthday girl," of the Van Buren County Democrat, and Sonja Oliver, editor of the Fairfield Bay News.

Alice Chambers, long time sales rep and graphic artist for the Van Buren County Democrat, was treated to birthday lunch by the Western Sizzlin' Steakhouse in Clinton, last Thursday. Joined by several professional associates and friends, Alice said she "had a wonderful time" and was surprised by the illustrious turnout.

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A harrowing experience...
In agriculture, a “harrow” is a device consisting usually of some type of freely turning wheel with spikes or a series of sharp metal disks set on edge or at an angle on an axel and drug across the ground to break up and level the soil in preparation for planting.

When a field is harrowed, the people doing the work are said to be harrowing.

And I’ve said that in order to say this: There is a harrowing going on. And it is independently our choice as to whether this action evidences itself as kinship or violence.

It’s all within us, this manifest potential to do harm or good. And we commit the acts every day… usually without even thinking.

And what I am thinking about in sharing these thoughts are some experiences that have, for the last several weeks, been rambling across the landscape of my life which is, as we are all too well aware, back-dropped by this cloud of war.

But right here at home, in my own back yard, I observe symptoms of similar crisis. Actions that are drawing lines of separation between people. Behaviors that, no matter their motivation, are compelling groups to “take sides.” And, take detrimental actions against each other.

Personally, I find this kind of behavior detestable. I see it, perhaps more than the love of money, as the root of all evil… because it always waves a banner of “doing something in the name of good.” Which, in my humble opinion, makes it worse than evil because it is so covertly malevolent.

And this got me thinking, if I could wave a magic wand or chant a mystic prayer the invocation would be please to give us a world devoid of such greed and arrogance by empowering and guiding each of us to willfully make manifest a Universe abundant with peace by creating it in our hearts, hometowns, and back yards.

Now, and forevermore.

Wishing all of us the future we prefer, desire and deserve to enjoy...

Christine Weiss

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