Judge Warren Commentary: Being Present in a Modern World

Our life as modern Americans is full of distractions. When a single computer exponentially more powerful than the all the devices used to land a man on the moon fits in your pocket, with access to nearly all the information (good, bad, and neutral) mankind currently has available within a few taps, is it any wonder that we can become entertained in a mind-numbing fashion? I need not list the litany of social media, TV programs, movies, sports, video games, shopping, and other myriads that can fill our lives. That does not even approach the drug, gambling, entitlement, and hook-up cultures and self-destructive lifestyles that are so interwoven in our society. We Americans are numbing ourselves to reality and literally killing ourselves at a fantastical rate.

Head shot of Warren wearing a flag bowtie

Hon. Michael Warren

Why? Too many have empty lives, without meaning – and ignore that pain by playing or self-destruction. Life should be an adventure, but many waste it, retreat from it, and surrender responsibility over it. Too many have become unanchored in the important things, the First Things. I am no Puritan or Luddite. Nevertheless, we must recognize where we are and where we are headed. We have been forewarned. Whether we are hurtling towards Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, George Orville’s 1984, or H. G. Wells’ Time Machine – or perhaps A Brave New 1984 Fahrenheit Machine – there is little question that we need to re-inspire and reorient ourselves.

We need to be present. In a constructive way. With purpose higher than ourselves. I suggest the following three simple but enormously powerful courses of action:

First, if you are religious, pray. Pray for you, your family, your friends, your community, your State, America, and the world. And, ask your savior to help you become an instrument of good in the world. Maybe start with 30 seconds a day, then a minute, then more. Make it a habit of life. If you are not religious (and I wasn’t for about half of my life) devise another pathway to project positive, constructive energy into your life and the world. We will change the world.

Second, learn the Declaration of Independence. Read it. The entire document. Not just once, but repeatedly. Consider it. Carry it in your hip pocket (or that phone I just commented on). Think about how the First Principles of the Declaration should apply in public life and in your own life. What does it mean to believe – and really act as if you believe – in unalienable rights – i.e., that our rights come from Nature and Nature’s God? How does your world prospective and behavior change when you embrace and act as if “all men are created equal”? Live it, and the world will change for the better.

Third, in the words of Professor Jordan B. Peterson, aim higher. Take stock of your shortcomings and dedicate yourself to the hard work of improving your life and the life of others. Tear yourself down so you can build yourself – and others – up.

All that technology I criticized earlier can be leveraged to assist with these three recommendations. Social media can be used to pray, learn, connect, and project positive change. You can attend virtual events, engage in programs, and read materials that further your knowledge of the Declaration. Heck, you can even listen to the Patriot Lessons: American History & Civics Podcast (hosted by yours truly). Many on-line resources exist to help assess and improve your life. Simply put, the power to do evil is also the power to do well (I usually say it the other way around).

And make no mistake, this small missive is just as much for me than anyone else. Life is an adventure. Make it so. Join me.

Hon. Michael Warren is an Oakland County Circuit Court Judge of over 18 years, former member of the State Board of Education, co-creator of Patriot Week, podcast host, and author of America’s Survival Guide.

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