Monday, February 6, 2017

The Price of Power

When a person has power, there is risk of corruption.  I find a quote I can connect with at the end:

I have a personal prejudice against tyranny.  I used to be in law enforcement.  I have seen what power can do to people with my own eyes.  I have arrested people and ticke[te]d them.  All power, even lawful power, degrades the person who wields it.  It is not just the victim who is abased.  The enforcer is also dishonored.  I simply will not be a party to authoritarianism anymore. 
If you think power is good I advise you to go out and get power as a cop or a jailer.  Find out what it is really like.  Then come back to your senses when you realize that all power is more or less evil.
As I have probably said before, I had a very brief stint in law enforcement.  I would not have made such a universal application, but I fully understood, even back then, the feeling expressed in the quote.  I am afraid I was not all that good at my job.  I let people slide.  I bent the rules.  I was chewed out more than once by my superiors.  

There is a way to avoid the kind of degradation that the writer talks about, and that is humility.  Oddly enough -- and I'm going to get all philosophical here, it can be frightening to be humble.  Humility requires courage.  I am going to suggest that true arrogance, as opposed to virtuous confidence, can be a function or expression of cowardice.

Humility and confidence are compatible.  Pride and humility are, of course, polar opposites.  In the First Epistle of John, we are told that there is no fear in love, that perfect, i.e., fully developed, love casts out all fear.  God's love makes us both confident and humble.   It gives us courage even as it preserves us from the corrupting influences of any power that might come into our hands, because, naturally, we are going to have power in some form over someone now and then.

This probably goes to why I harbor such a deep distrust of politicians and others who seek power.  It may even be why I have come to be fairly supportive of Trump.  He has a rather foolish, from someone seeking political office, courage.  Most seekers of power will never dare to tell the truth about what they want -- possibly even to themselves.

I believe that the real driving force behind the quest for power is often found in fear, and that fear is probably difficult to name -- something of an existential fear, the fear of meaninglessness.  

I think we can apply this to all the crap about triggering and hate speech and the protesting and rioting that is going on.  We just saw a violent and destructive protest at the University of California - Berkeley over a speech that was going to be given by the fabulous Milo Yiannopoulos.  Humble people would have listened to Milo without fear.  A speech, words, especially if they are not true, are not to be feared.

Humans have advanced, at least in part, because we are able to communicate with one another, record our words in some form -- including the earliest oral traditions -- and correct actions and adapt our behaviors based on our continuing interactions with reality.  As our interactions have now been recorded in written form across generations, we have a good basis for assessing the potential outcomes of a course of action.  If we are willing to make use of them.  This is called education.

Essentially this past week we saw a university, obstensibly engaged in education, violently blocking information that could prove vital to a generation's success and prosperity, if not their actual physical survival.  No one was going to be forced to accept Milo's conclusions or modify their behavior based on what he said.  His statements could have been heard, analyzed, debated, and considered.

The rioters, instead, acted as those under direct threat.  They acted in fear, fearing, perhaps, the potential loss of power that a contradiction to their narrative might entail.  What they lack is clearly humility.

Arrogance has become the hallmark of the modern world whether in science, politics, or religion.  A humble person fearlessly hears those who disagree with him.  He doesn't resort to disqualifying an opponent by labeling them as some despised thing in order to dismiss the other's opinion.  He doesn't appeal to his own authority or position, or that of another, in order to suggest that power or popularity defines truth.

Scientists used to be confident enough in themselves and in their methodology to accept challenges and debate on the basis of data and experimentation.  Now a computer model that has failed in predictive ability is upheld and defended by consensus.  Government funding rather than nature declares the winner of the battle for truth.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Maintaining a Grip

Monday, I did something I don't normally do.  I had a very brief exchange with a person in the comments section of a site.  The person, female, I believe, was ranting about Trump's "muslim ban".  She was questioning why he picked those countries.  The question was answered by another commenter.  She responded that he didn't answer her question.  I explained why he had indeed answered and offered a link to some additional information.

Fortunately, I went on about my business for a couple of days and didn't see her response until today.  It was unhinged.

Look, I hate Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton.  I'm sorry.  I just can't stand them.  They may be nice people in private.  Al Capone was probably a nice guy to his friends and acquaintances.  Jesse James, Bonnie and Clyde, everybody, regardless of their crimes and atrocities, has some good points.  Hitler was kind to animals.

Obama is a petty, little affirmative-action tyrant, but he seems to genuinely care about his kids -- or whomever's they are.  As long as he isn't trying to run my life, I don't care.  I don't hate him the way I do the Clintons; Obama is an annoyance.  Like hemorrhoids.

The truth is that we all like to have our biases confirmed.  It's just human nature.  Alex Jones and World Net Daily make good money feeding the self-delusions of people on my side of the fence.  Not everything they say is wrong, but they aren't good sources.

It would be nice if, on the left side, we could point just to sites like the Huffington Post.  Sadly, the unreliable sources of the left include the New York Times, CNN, CBS, etc.  As has been evident throughout the campaign last year and in the two weeks since the inauguration, the media, in general, is aligned with globalism.

We need to stop thinking left and right.  It is nationalism versus a one-world, globalist vision that would eliminate national boundaries and national sovereignty.  The United States has bought into this vision more and more for the last seventy years.  It has not brought us prosperity or peace.

Invasion by "refugees" and illegals results in greater power for and reliance upon government by more and more people.  Crime goes up.  More people are on welfare.  There is a push for more socialism.  Consequently, socialism begins to eat away the country's prosperity.  If it is kept up, the end result is Venezuela, Argentina, Mexico, Greece, etc.

When a nation loses its culture through invasion, loses its identity, it is on the way to being made into the same kind of third-world hellhole that the invaders supposedly fled in the first place.

There are people who cannot accept this.  They have a worldview that we can all live together in harmony, that all people, regardless of religion, ethnicity, ability, or background are the same.  They believe that "experts" in the government can more effectively distribute wealth than the free market.  And, like the women I mentioned at the beginning, they are going to cling to that worldview no matter what facts or evidence they see to the contrary.  For every crime by an illegal, they will point to one by a native.  For every abject failure of socialism, they will scream "Sweden" at the top of their lungs while ignoring the demographics, resources, and history that enabled Sweden's socialist experiment.

Their grip will not be loosened by logical argument because they did not reach their position by logical argument.  They do not believe in their own depraved nature or their own capacity to be hoodwinked.

I say that not to disparage those who disagree with me, but more as a warning to myself to maintain a grip on self-awareness myself, to remind myself how easily I can be fooled,  deluded and deceived.