Sunday, December 16, 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012

Connecticut School Shooting - Divergent Worldviews

Immediately, the clamoring over gun rights began. The day wasn't even finished and the comments on the news stories were alternately hand-wringing over too many guns or vociferously defending gun rights at any cost.

My first thought, as a parent, is for the parents of those children. Many in the alternative media are decrying Obama's tears as manipulation. I see the tears of a father. I don't care about politics at a time like this. The man seems to care on at least this most basic level and I give him credit for that. But why are we looking to President Obama?

This will stir the gun debate anew; but, the issue is deeper than the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Many people believe that guns should be banned, that the 2nd Amendment is an anachronism. Others believe that gun ownership should remain free and legal. I happen to fall in the second camp. And the reason is deeper than simply a distrust of government.

I see two worldviews. One group of people firmly believe in the divine right of kings. We thought we had rid ourselves of this notion, but we haven't. They believe those born to better families, to better classes have better tools with which to lead and govern a people impoverished of wisdom. They believe that certain exceptional people have wisdom that the rest of us do not. I could see it on the President's face today as he spoke. He was determined to take action regardless of the political consequences. What action would he like to take? I believe he wants to pass more restrictive gun laws. His answer, their answer, is that government has the answers and government is the only thing that makes people's lives better, safer.

There is another group of people who firmly believe in the rights of the individual. They don't believe in the collective, except in cases where it is necessary. Their first answer doesn't come from government, but from themselves. From their own experience. From their God. From the standpoint that the individual reigns supreme. But there is a disconnect.

An individual does not truly reign supreme. Either he or his religion bridles his passions or else the community or government must do that for him. We can have self-rule but only for the self-disciplined. As John Adams famously stated:

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
There must be restraint. I would rather those restraints come from me rather than my government. And so now we see the true underlying cause of the school shootings: lack of discipline and accountability.

Like it or not, we are accountable to each other, as I've said in this blog before. Rather than turn to government for the answers, this shooter's family should have taken the responsibility to discipline and bring to heel his passions and emotions long before today. Strong leadership in the family and in the community is what is needed, not more laws. Just as friends and family failed Ted Haggard and Jerry Sandusky, they also failed Matthew Murray and Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. When will we finally understand that with freedom comes responsibility? Ironically, Big Sis's program of "See something, say something" isn't too far off the mark. These people's friends had a responsibility to them. And to us.

So now we must choose. Which worldview will it be? The divine right of kings and governments to dispense laws on our behalf? Or will it be true freedom and responsibility to one another? We can no longer have it both ways.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Chris Hedges exemplifies the class system in America...in a Good Way

I need to get my thoughts out here while they are fresh, but then I need to get back to work. Unfortunately, I don't have the luxury to think through the issues as well as a Chris Hedges or other prominent writers. I am enmeshed in the corporate system through work, debt, and education. I serve as a technocrat project manager and that is the point of this post.

I read a website run by Gary North. He is not perfect. There are more than a few intellectual and theological areas where I disagree with his conclusions. Nevertheless, his scholarship has opened doors to me that I would otherwise have remained ignorant of. He recently posted a 3 hour C-SPAN2 video interview of author Chris Hedges. And here is the fascinating part. Just a few days earlier this week, I was looking for the real-life protagonist from The Pursuit of Happyness, Chris Gardner. Not remembering his name, I accidentally came across Chris Hedges. I found some old essays of his that I had read in years past. I was fascinated that although I'm not as liberal in my politics as he, we shared a lot of the same views of the Corporate State.

Here is the video: Chris Hedges on C-SPAN2

So, imagine my surprise when Dr. North published a link to the Chris Hedges interview on his website today. Serendipitous.

Listening to the interview, I was introduced to two more authors that I had never encountered. Karl Popper and Sheldon Wolin. Through the brilliance of Amazon, I was able to find their books within seconds and added them to my shopping cart. But what struck me is that without the introduction to Gary North, without the unfettered access to the Internet, I would never have been able to expand my knowledge to these new authors.

Why is Chris Hedges so well-read? What connections or better academic upbringing allowed him to go to Harvard while the best I could do was attend the U.S. Air Force Academy? I believe it is the class system we find ourselves in. Americans like to believe we live in an egalitarian system of pure meritocracy. I argue that we don't. Sure, some will attain to the higher reaches of society through moxie and guile, but not without at least one thread that connects someone from the upper class to that promising individual of the lower class.

In my own life, I will never forget sitting next a student from Colorado College on a plane back home for break. I was a student at the Air Force Academy at the time. We struck up a conversation. Students at the Academy generally regarded those at Colorado College with disdain. We thought they had little to offer humanity other than system-challenging ideas. Supporting the status quo was my highest ideal at the time. I was taught that and nothing else. When we started discussing politics, I found myself completely disarmed and unable to mount even a feeble defense of why I supported the system. At the time, I was intellectually unprepared to counter even the most specious of Marxist arguments. Instead, I was dumb-founded. I was wondering how he could come by the knowledge he had while I had never even heard of the authors he was referencing.

In the years since, the blinders have slowly come off. I've recounted that story already in this blog. I understand now that I was being trained according to my class and station. I showed enough promise to enter the Management class. I was under no circumstances to even be introduced to the ruling class of government, artists, and thought leaders. I was being taught to follow orders, not question them. My peer at Colorado College was obviously learning something very different. He may not have been groomed to enter the Ruling class, but he was certainly being equipped to challenge it whereas I was being equipped to defend it. And I didn't even know why.

I never had a mentor come to me and put his arm around me when I was young. I was never introduced to some of the greater works of philosophy or economics or literature because few in my family had been introduced to them in their lives. How could they teach me what they didn't know themselves?

I was given a spiritual heritage for which I am grateful. Beyond that, I was left to my own path with little direction. Why? Because my family was in a different class than a Mitt Romney or a Chris Hedges or a Mark Zuckerberg or a Bill Gates. (As a telling statistic, ask yourself who among your friends has a child named Mitt or Newt or Tip? Those are Elitist names for the ruling class. I'll forgive "Lew" because of the work he has accomplished for the common man.) And I didn't show the intellectual promise of a Sergey Brin or a Larry Page. Therefore, I didn't go to Stanford. I must have shown some sort of promise because I managed to snag that scholarship from the U.S. government. And that's good. I was able to get my "education" knocked out. But I know now that it was more indoctrination than education. That's ok. It's better than the alternative, which was nothing.

What is my answer? Education is the answer, but not within the current system. The current system sorts people by class based on familial birth. Those in the north east from "establishment" families are going to the Ivy League, period. It doesn't matter that there are hundreds of thousands of intellectually brighter students out there. The meritocracy is limited. Instead, I argue that with the advent of the Internet, we now have the tools to effect a real education of many millions of people. I've listed many of the sites to begin with in my blog roll on the right hand side of this page. Sites like Lewrockwell.com, Mises.org, and garynorth.com have opened my eyes in ways I never would have imagined 10 years ago.

Education will eventually lead to the withdrawal of consent to our current paradigms. When enough people truly withdraw their consent, we will have change. It worked for Gandhi. It worked for the Civil Rights movement. It will work eventually here in America and in other western nations.

In the meantime, we all need to free ourselves from the corporate serfdom in which we now find ourselves fully awake. Not everyone is awake to the Matrix in which we live. I know that it doesn't even occur to my co-workers to question their support of the products our companies produce. They are not trained nor expected to make moral decisions in their work. Neither was I.

The best way for us to find freedom is in financial independence. When people are financially independent, they are more able to speak their minds. When enough people can actually speak and then act according to their free conscience, a flood of change will finally be unleashed.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

A True Believer, Not a "System" Believer

I'm working my way through an excellent book by Jeff Schmidt, Disciplined Minds - A Critical Look at Salaried Professionals and the Soul-Battering System that Shapes their Lives.  It's basic premise is the status quo is kept in place not only by corporations, but by the systems of entry into the upper levels of those corporations, be it in the sciences, technology, or traditional business tracks.  The educational system that produces professionals for this system is complicit by its very structure.  By the way, John Taylor Gatto said as much too in his, The Underground History of American Education.  I'll let you read the book to see more, but it brought out some thoughts in me I'd like to share.


The author left out a very important facet to his analysis.  He seems to deny the spiritual component behind the scenes.  You see, I've always been a True Believer which has kept me from being blinded by "The System."  Not that I'm endorsing the series, but there is a scene in the Left Behind novels where Nicolai Carpathia is telling a lie to a group of individuals at a high-level U.N. meeting.  Only, the protagonist is immune because his Spiritual side is preventing the lie from taking hold in him.  He's watching the horrifying scene play out as people are brainwashed like Manchurian Candidates.  When the session is over, the unprotected go forth boldly proclaiming the lie while the reader and the protagonist know the real truth.  

This is how I feel.  I've never really "bought in" to the total package.  I haven't striven for the Master' Degree.  I never longed to be in a Fraternity or part of the Tri-Lateral Commission.  I don't want a membership in the Council on Foreign Relations.  Perhaps those in the business world can sense this disloyalty, much like a dog "smells" fear.  It may be why I prefer contract work to full time employment.  

I don't believe that all of the individuals that make up "The System" are consciously trying to perpetuate the status quo because of some conscious nefarious decision they've made.  They really believe in what they're doing.  They really believe that "greed, for lack of a better word, is good...", (Gordon Gecko, Wall Street).  No, we have a more insidious system of enslavement in place now.


Instead of overt slavery, we all have become slaves to our passions, our entertainment, our baser selves.  As Neil Postman argued in his brilliant book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, we have fulfilled Huxley's, not Orwell's vision.  There is no need to ban books or burn them because people simply don't want to read.  The vast majority are uninformed.  They are stupefied into believing the lies presented to us by media, by education, and unfortunately sometimes, by the Christian Church.  


Which brings me back to Schmidt's book.  I have a deep desire to feel useful in my work.  I believe this is how God made all of us.  But the structures in place reserve meaningful work only for a privileged few.  By meaningful I mean that one takes part in the decision making process and share in the profits of those decisions.  Instead, we have a system where most in the division of labor are treated as cogs in the machine.  They are resources.  They are expendable.  They don't share in the decision making and they certainly don't share in the profits.  Those are reserved for the "professionals."  


My burning question is how to effect real change in the system in which I find myself?  Different factions have their own take on it.  The "world" of course doesn't want you to see that there even is a problem.  Just go watch the NFL and American Idol.  Enjoy the pittance of freedom it allows you to maintain and drown any remaining unhappiness in alcohol or a bevy of "doctor approved" psychotropic drugs brought to you by the wonderful pharmaceutical industry.  


The pragmatists state that being true to yourself and maintaining honor amidst the corruption is the highest ideal.  You find this in the military and in the service professions.  But serving with no hope of reward is tiresome.  There's more to this side, but that should be another post.


The church has 2 views.  On the one hand, the Bible instructs us to work at whatever we are doing with all of our heart.  The instruction is that if we simply work hard enough, God will reward us in the next life.  It goes on to say that our inheritance is from God.  And I believe that.  I do. 


The other Christian view is that of the "prosperity gospel."  If you just serve God now, you will reap rewards now and live like kings here on earth.  This I do NOT believe.  Jesus is the best example as to why that cannot be true.


So if I believe that our inheritance is from God, what is the problem?  The problem is how to reconcile serving a corrupt system while trying to maintain that God will reward me anyway.  It's not quite to the extreme where I feel like I'm dealing drugs and working at dealing "with all my heart."  But, it's close.  

I feel like my work serves the status quo and keeps people enslaved to a system with which I fundamentally disagree.


So the next question is, "How do I bring the Kingdom of God to bear upon the system?"  Do we rebel like Spartacus and Martin Luther?  Or do we work within the system like Martin Luther King, Jr.?  


I've tried very hard to keep putting on a smile at work.  I try to care about people in the midst of looking over their shoulder to perform my technocratic work as a Project Manager.  But my job  humiliates them:  Make them subservient to a process of getting work accomplished instead of creatively accomplishing the same work.  I feel bad about it.  But how to change?

How do I reconcile being a Christian in a corrupt system?  How do I pursue freedom and justice for myself and others in this system?  What does the Kingdom of God look like as applied to the inner bowels of process improvement which lead only to increased profits for C-levels and shareholders (scroll down to see the first chart), but not the workers?

I'm a True Believer in God, but I don't believe in this monetary system I serve.

If we were called to be salt and light, I'm sure that meant more than simply avoiding alcoholism and making sure you were in church every Sunday and tithing one tenth of your income faithfully.  Where is the revolution?  Is it only internal?  Is it only for the personal social issues?  What about changing the way people work and live and interact?  Where is the justice for the Foxconn workers who have suicide nets outside their buildings? 


For now, I am going to continue to try and "redeem" Project Management for the glory of God.  I don't know what that looks like, but it starts with caring about people more than profits.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Supreme Court Justice (sic)


We have been told for years that we should pragmatically accept whoever the Republican party trots out so that they can appoint "conservative" justices.  We see where this has landed us time and again.

http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/114582.html

http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/114583.html

http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/114580.html

We are not ruled by those in black robes.  At least we shouldn’t be.  And the recent decision by Chief Justice Roberts, a Republican nominee, to side with the left on Obamacare, invalidates this argument once and for all.  We’ve had a conservative (supposedly) majority for a long time now.  Tell me why Roe v. Wade hasn’t been turned around?  I could go on, but one thing is clear:  the people of this country are no longer in charge in any way shape or form.  And I don’t care if Romney is supposedly a conservative.  It was HIS health care plan that Obamacare was modeled after.  I’m not voting for the lesser of two cultists.  Romney is a Mormon.  Doesn’t that matter to anyone?  I’m going to write in Ron Paul.  I hope all of the Paul supporters do the same.  I want the Republican establishment that dogged Paul every step of the way to finally understand that it was their lack of support, or even respect, for Ron Paul threw the election to Obama.  I hope those neoconservative statists have to sulk about it for the next 4 years.  But no matter what, I’m going to vote my conscience.  Or I may not vote at all.  But I certainly have no respect for the spin masters in the Republican party who suppose that they can just continue to shove their silver spoons down our throats.  The young people of this country are going to eventually be the majority.  If we can survive without martial law being declared in the meantime, liberty will eventually come back to America.  But it won’t be because a RINO like Romney appointed some centrist judges. 

It will only be because the people finally broke out of their stupor and realized what was being done to them first though the public education system, then through the corporatist feudal system.  Americans will realize that the war on drugs was nothing but a farce to populate the corrupt private prison system.  Americans will finally realize that fluoride in the water was meant to be a neurological deterrent to dissent and a dumping ground for manufacturing waste.  Americans will finally realize that the corrupt health care system never cared about keeping people well, but keeping people sick so that the medical apparatus and pharmaceutical industry could continue to profit.

Finally, Americans are going to come back to their senses and realize that there can be no law without God’s law.  There can be no ethics without an ultimate arbitrator that sits outside of mankind.  They will realize their own inability to govern themselves without the voluntary disciplining influence of Christ. 

Until then, I am only one voice among millions who is choosing to vote his conscience instead of what is politically expedient.  True Godly character has to become the ethos once again.  We must replace this detestable pragmatism that has been enshrined in the last 5 to 10 decades.  We must become again one nation, spiritually homogenous, under God, under Christ, and declare as our forbearers did, “No King, but King Jesus!”  “No King, but King Jesus!!”*

*On April 18, 1775 John Adams and John Hancock were at the home of Rev. Jonas Clarke, a Lexington pastor and militia leader. That same night Paul Revere arrived to warn them of the approaching Redcoats. The next morning British Major Pitcairn shouted to an assembled regiment of Minutemen; "Disperse, ye villains, lay down your arms in the name of George the Sovereign King of England." The immediate response of Rev. Jonas Clarke or one of his company was:

"We recognize no Sovereign but God and no King but Jesus."

In this crucial hour of our nation’s history it is past time that the true saints of God give total allegiance to the Kingship of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. The crisis of the ages demands that we renew the historic battle-cry of our Christian Forefathers –

"WE HAVE NO KING BUT KING JESUS!"

"It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ!"    Patrick Henry