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Civilization Needed a Lawyer - So I Applied for the Job
Pro Bono Publico
In his first draft of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote: “We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable”
Fortunately for the document’s signers but unfortunately for King George III, Benjamin Franklin deleted Jefferson’s words and replaced them with: “We hold these truths to be self-evident.” Self-evident truths are best.
Abraham Lincoln wrote: “A lawyer's time and advice are his stock in trade."
I’m not on Twitter to get famous, to write and sell books, or to start a paid Substack subscription service. I’m just here to give free advice in my spare time.
My figurative client is Civilization and the natural resources and energy she needs to flourish.
Civilization is a wonder to behold. She is our common shelter; our haven. She provides all our nourishment. She is our common, shared library, the engine of human ingenuity, innovation, invention, and shared knowledge. She fosters, houses, and protects our most cherished works of shared art and culture. She is a warehouse of all our goods and the network through which we share everything we make and produce.
To flourish, Civilization requires abundant, low-cost, flexible, and efficient energy resources. For Mother Earth to flourish, we need to figure out how to obtain and use these resources in ways that have the lowest impacts on the Earth and the amazing Biosphere we share and upon which we depend for our own lives.
Civilization is facing trials that will determine her very existence. Forces appear bent to destroy her. My aim is to defend Civilization as best I can. All I have to offer is my time and advice. If you feel to further the worthy cause of Civilization, let’s join together to educate and persuade our brothers and sisters who share Mother Earth and her riches. Let’s persuade them to do so with more wisdom and gentleness. With more gratitude. Let us use civil discourse. Let us listen and learn. Every person I have ever met has something to teach me if I listen. Let us find commonalities. Then use kindness, love unfeigned, reason, persuasion, and advocacy to win over their hearts and minds to the cause of Civilization. This can only be done if people start thinking for themselves and to seek out truth.
This is payment enough for my time & advice.
I aim to provide this Substack library as a Free Public Service that we may all use to educate, persuade, and win the minds and hearts of as many people as we can to the Cause of Civilization. I invite anybody to collaborate with me on creating content for this library. Please use it. Share the essays. Invite people to subscribe. It will always be free of charge.
A good idea starts a celebration of the mind, and every nerve in the body seems to crowd up to see the fireworks.
—John Moses Browning
Some ask why do I use the image of John Moses Browning. Well, I am taking some artistic and familial license and I hope he forgives me. I had occasion to spend some time in the upstairs study of his home a while back. When it was built, it was the finest home in Ogden, Utah, not far from where I live. And I took a moment to look around and see a bit of what he saw. To see the runes he left for me to see that day.
John was my grandma’s grandma’s brother. I knew my grandma well—she lived till I was 20. And she had stories. I didn’t quite know what to make of them till the afternoon I spent a bit of time in John’s study, where he did much of his work. By and by I will share the stories. For now, the task is rather overwhelming. But the stories need telling. The words are scratching on my insides and I’m a little chapped about it.
If you go to the Browning website - or the museum at Union Station in Ogden, Utah, there is an image of John Moses Browning's father, Jonathan (Pappy—a good ol’ Tennessee boy) seated next to a rather attractive woman.
If you suppose that woman was Jonathan's wife, you'd be mistaken. It's his daughter, Asenath Elizabeth Browning Carling. She's my grandma's grandma. A few years ago, a few family members and I reset her shared gravestone in the Orderville, Utah cemetery because it was about to tumble over in the soft clay and I just could not let that happen. Or rather, Grandpa Carling, the stone’s co-owner (a still-famous carpenter and furniture-maker bent on perfection) got to me and would not let it go till I fixed it. So I gathered up some helpers and we were well-rewarded.
In the process of re-setting that massive stone (the granite base is enormous), we found that Isaac V. Carling, Jr., my own great grandfather who died tragically at the age of 24 (leaving a little girl and a little boy) was buried right next to his mother. The location of his grave had been lost for generations. My grandma went to her grave without ever having been able to visit her father’s grave because she did not know where it was. Turns out, he was buried right next to his mother, Asenath. With permission from the Sexton (who was equally happy to have solved a 127 year-old mystery from his standpoint), we also set a gravestone that should have been placed in 1895 but was not. I slept better that night. Apparently they all did, too.
Asenath Elizabeth Browning - Isaac V. Carling, Sr.
I aim to have my life worn out, not rusted out.
Isaac Van Wagoner Carling, Sr
—and so he did
One of the things weighing on my mind—and I now feel on John’s mind—is this fact. You see, the gun used to kill Archduke Ferdinand and his wife—the precipitating cause of the Great War, the conclusion of which the World marks as I write these words—started as an idea in John Moses Browning's mind in Ogden, Utah. In the room where I spent some time. Pondering. And I kind of wish I had not. Because even more words are scratching on my insides.
In a sense, the First World War accidentally started in the study on the top floor of this house in Ogden—in the room with the dormer. That’s where John first saw the mechanics of the invention that would eventually become known as the Fabrique Nationale (FN) M1910. But the fireworks of what started out as such a good idea carried stinging burns that I imagine John carried deep in his heart and tried to bury in his mind and over which he had no control.