mituns: (towers)
There is a movie called "The Lives of Others" which is set in East Germany and deals with the surveillance state that East Germany was, and how this surveillance got abused for personal gain. East Germany, of course, is not the only place where people lived with the constant threat of being overheard. Nazi Germany was another, and another was the Soviet Union. Reading the book "Everyday Saints - and other stories" one of the stories deals with a high official in the Orthodox Church, who was allowed make a trip outside of the USSR who wanted to relay information to a priest in the UK. Knowing that there was a very good chance that, even in London, he was being listened to, "In order for them to speak, they actually needed to lie down on the floor, so that the Secret Service agents tailing Metropolitan Nicodemus, and never once leaving him alone, would not be able to record their conversation through the windows."

Now it has been alleged that the NSA (perhaps in conjunction with the GCHQ) is basically spying on everyone in the United States. On one hand, we've been told that anything that the NSA (or any other agency) does is for our own safety & protection. After all, we 'don't want to let the terrorists win'.

Being a student of recent history, though, I have quite a different opinion. When governments feel the need to spy into every aspect of ordinary citizen's lives, it is never done for the security of the citizen, but for the security of the state. In a free country, those two things are synonymous; however, in a state that relies on the suppression of dissenting opinions to survive, the two are vastly different. The information gained from universal spying on one's own citizens is meant - by design - as a weapon to be used against the individual. That we have promises that it would probably never be used in such a way does nothing to allay my fears because the fact still remains that this weapon has been created and can easily be individualized for use against any one of us.

Am I being paranoid here? I don't think so. I already brought up the case of East Germany, but it is hardly the only example. When this type of information is collected, it not only becomes a weapon of the government as a whole, but also of any group or individual who might be able to gain access to it. So you tick off some alderman in your town. If said alderman can access this information or has connections to people who can, it becomes easy for these people to make your life a living hell. Furthermore, when government agencies collude to make themselves a burden to someone (see the case of Catherine Engelbrecht, who found herself a target not just of the IRS, but also the ATF, FBI, and OSHA ). How many of us have the resources to defend ourselves under such an onslaught?

(This isn't even mentioning how this information can become a weapon for other "less friendly" entities - imagine China hacking into a database of information on American citizens!)

Now, Google's CEO has said the following: "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." This is a ridiculous position to take. Just because you don't want people to know about something, doesn't mean that one is doing something illegal or even wrong. Look at how many people give donations to charities anonymously. Some of this may be done in self-interest, such as when people don't want others to know how "loaded" they are or something, but to give without wanting outward praise for something is specifically Biblical (Matthew 6:4). Should people not have this right? Furthermore, taking again the example of the alderman, isn't it the right of a free citizen to be able to express opinions contrary to the alderman's without fear of repercussions for holding a different personal or political belief? Yes, it is understandable that people generally don't want their misdeeds to be known, but there is other recourse for dealing with illegal activity without assuming that everyone is a criminal to begin with. (Then again, with the plethora of laws that get passed, in the eyes of government, everyone is a criminal.)

I cannot vouch for the motives of Edward Snowden, and I won't try to. However, whatever his motives, if what he is saying about what government is doing to people is true, we as a people - as THE people - need to stand up and say that this is absolutely unacceptable. The ramifications for continuing on with it are just too great.
mituns: (shoes)
First they came for the Evangelicals
But they just want everyone to follow their oppressive rules
So I was fine with that

Then they came for the conservatives
But they are just greedy bastards who want to take away poor people's benefits,
So I was fine with that

Then they came for the gun owners
But we can't have crazy people shooting kids
So I was fine with that

Then they came for the Jews
But it's not fair that they run the world
So I was fine with that

Then they came for the homeschoolers
But they just want to brainwash their children
So I was fine with that

Then they came for the "preppers"
But they are just crazy anti-government agitators
So I was fine with that

Then they came for the Catholics
Because hey, why not?
So I was fine with that

So now that we're living in our glorious utopia
They came for me
And I can't imagine why everyone else is fine with that.

-The author of this blog - mituns.dreamwidth.org

(sincere apologies to M. Niemoeller)
mituns: (Default)
According to the dictionary, cognitive dissonance is the feeling of uncomfortable tension which comes from holding two conflicting thoughts in the mind at the same time. I would argue two points related to cognitive dissonance; first, that most people need to find some way to resolve this dissonance in order to set their minds at ease (not just for spiritual but also physical well-being) and that the leftist ideology demands that its adherents live with tremendous amounts of unresolved cognitive dissonance.

As an example of this, one of my cousins is quite leftist, and before I blocked her from my Facebook, I would occasionally comment on her posts with things to consider. At one point, when she was afraid that the Republicans in the Senate might use the filibuster to block some legislation that she favored, she posted a link to a petition to try to end the filibuster as a Senate tool. In response, I posted quotes from her favorite politicians, President Barack Obama among them, praising the filibuster as a necessary and useful thing. Instead of considering the new information as something to consider in her opinion of the subject, her method of dealing with the cognitive dissonance was to become extremely upset with me.

Cognitive dissonance enters our lives in a variety of ways. First of all, there are the types of people who seem to be duplicitous by nature - many politicians seem to fall into this category by virtue that they can say things that directly contradict each other, and yet not only seem to believe what they themselves say, but hope to get everyone else to believe it too. For example, on election day, I saw a tweet from somebody with "Catholic" as part of their username who said that they had just gotten back from voting for Obama because they were concerned about the number of abortions, and it seemed that only President Obama had any plan for reducing those numbers. Really? Does that make any sense at all considering the man's attitudes and actions on the subject? Yet here was this person who either couldn't or wouldn't compare the words to the actions.

Secondly, guilt is a kind of cognitive dissonance, especially if the action is ongoing. Yes, Mr. TSA agent knew he shouldn't be stealing things out of suitcases, but he continues to do it anyway. As a society, we've decided guilt is bad, and so we must find justification for our actions to relieve this burden. Had Mr. TSA agent been paid more, he contends, or had the working conditions been better, he wouldn't have "had" to resort to stealing things.

Third, there is the cognitive dissonance of disbelief. For example, it's hardly surprising anymore that after some youth gets arrested or killed doing something, all the people around testify that "he was really a good kid" or "he was just about to turn his life around". If the story makes the news, the families sometimes even provide pictures of this "good kid" being involved in questionable activities, all the while blaming others, especially police, of "overreacting". ([Update 30 Nov 2012: A perfect example here as to what I'm talking about. Note that the girl who was killed breaking into someone's house is lauded as a "role model" at school, even though her cousin says she's a) had substance abuse problems b) has been through some sort of rehab program and c) was probably breaking in to service her addiction. How is this girl a role model exactly? ])
Related to this, is the dissonance children experience, for example, when they expect that their mothers, at the very least, love them, but the mothers don't show that love. The children often go out of their way to try to reconcile the fact that they know they are supposed to be loved, but they grow up not experiencing it.

The way liars usually get caught is that they no longer can keep these lies straight. If one has thoughts that cause tension because they are irreconcilable, it goes to reason that at least one contention has to be false. A thinking person, therefore, will consider these ideas and try to find a resolution by figuring out what is true and what is false. Modern liberalism expects that all of us can accept contradicting notions without question. For example, it's highly ironic that one week, Time magazine ran a cover with the story "The Case for Killing Granny" (as a good thing) but soon afterwards, an ad runs depicting Paul Ryan as throwing grandma off a cliff (as a bad thing). Were liberalism consistent or truthful, the latter instance would be held as an example of the first.

I truly believe that this dualism is a leading cause of depression and a greater sense that so many people of my generation have of being lost and without purpose. We are told, for example, that we are random happenstances who live but for a moment, then cease to exist. While we are here, we have no greater objective than to reduce our own suffering to the greatest extent possible. The soul, which was designed for the eternal and longs for it, is but a piece of delusion. If we cannot reach for the objective Truth in this instance alone, how can one keep from going insane?

If there is no Truth, there is no reason to seek it, and we become enslaved to those around us who have managed to amass the most power. Without the power of independent thought, and the ability to exercise our own will to think, we become powerless to resist the tyranny of those whose goal would be to amass power by enslaving others.

The answer here is the paradox that is Christianity. In order to save our lives - to experience the eternal that the soul longs for - we have to be willing to die to this world (the exact opposite of the goal of a secularist). In order to be free, we must live by the rules set forth to us by God. In order to have faith, we must seek out objective Truth. Only as we get closer to these ideals can we shut out the cognitive dissonance around us and that which has entered our minds and souls. The more we do so, the more we are at peace, even though we never give up the fight for what is right.

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