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On Not Living Stupid

For some people, some of those dials really do need to be set at zero. I know several people for whom Odin's mild caution about drinking is the understatement that defines their lives. You probably do, too. We can admire such people for their success in a life-and-death struggle that's hard for some to even acknowledge.

It's also interesting to see how some of these Bad Things end up being treated in practice. For example, the Islamic injunction against lending at interest is a good warning against getting into debt, but it's almost funny to see the various dances and evasions the Islamic financial world uses to skirt this issue. Apparently, complex societies just don't function without credit and interest, even if it's called something different and collected in different ways.

The Mormon injunctions also inform one of the major issues of our day. They have an impressive "social safety net" for members. This is partly because they have their own private tax apparatus: everyone is supposed to give 10 percent of what they earn to the church, which is pretty wealthy as a result. But another reason they can have this safety net is because they go to great lengths to Not Live Stupid. I'll guess that their composite health care costs are significantly lower as a result, and members who are writing their monthly checks to the church don't wonder very much if their hard-earned money is going to pay for someone who willingly smoked or drank or drugged themselves into a health nightmare.

Heathens who value families, kindreds, and tribes might want to keep this somewhere not too far in the back of their collective minds.

I hope we aren't ever a people who engage in niggling finger-pointing, but there's a lot to be said for Not Living Stupid, however one achieves that. When groups of people start working together on this project called Life, it becomes vitally important.

5/19/2011 4:00:00 AM