Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Convenient Delusions

The following is an excellent article on a subject I've written on before. It is worth taking the time to read if you are among those concerned we are on the wrong path.

Here is the thing-- when we buy into a myth instead of reality, we make our decisions on something either no longer true or that never was. Myths have a reason behind them, a purpose and that has value probably forever; but to take it literally without understanding that purpose enables us to be manipulated by those who want power. It is as dangerous in our personal lives as in our culture.

I liked a lot of the ideas in the piece, but the following is a powerful concept to get through our heads when we think about our nation and what is going on here today. It begins by explaining the difference between power and strength. (boy I wish our political parties, media and a lot of the wealthiest of our citizens understood this).
"The twentieth century thus became the century of power because Americans, as I have already suggested, became ever more reliant upon power alone as its years and decades went by. When power functions by itself, means and ends are inevitably confused; and means, eventually, are taken to be their own end: Power is manifest, that is to say, with no intent other than to manifest itself. The Spanish war was therefore a good introduction to the century we would name for ourselves. Americans claimed to feel deeply for the victims of Spanish oppression, but their own, notably in the Philippines, turned out to be other than an improvement. The true purpose of the Spanish campaign, as the histories make plain, was display—a demonstration of power."   Patrick Smith
The same thing is why some believe America used the atomic bomb in Japan. Not because it was necessary as the war was won and the Japanese were ready to surrender with the Soviet Union approaching them from land and the US controlling the seas. Many believe it was instead done as a demonstration of power that Truman wanted not just for Japan but also the world--- americanexceptionalismdontchaknow.

So what do we do and if we have, as a nation, enabled power instead of real strength, how do we change it now? Can we get strength? How many Americans prefer power because it's easier to see. They don't understand strength is how power is used wisely and lack of it how it is not.
"In all of these matters Americans grew deficient during the last century. One must have a strong sense of self to encounter others and accept difference, and Americans came to lack this."                                     Patrick Smith
Obviously there is not one simple answer. We are a  people today who can know too much and at the same time have no idea how much of what we know is true. We hear of one tragedy and violent event after another and feel the world is falling apart. Empathy becomes so stretched that it loses meaning.

As we have advanced in technologies-- in all directions, we are often clueless in how to wisely use what we have as with GMOs and yes, the drones.
"The core issue is one of control—control over what we are able to do. Closer to our time, the French thinker Paul Virilio suggests that we have to add to our technological revolutions a revolution of consciousness, of ideas, such that our thinking and our purposes are elevated to a value equivalent to our capabilities."                                                                     Patrick Smith
So with a group obsessed with gaining control and doing all they can do dumb down our educational systems, our people's ability to think critically and use facts, what do we do, we who agree this is a problem but we are not in power? Keep in mind that misunderstanding the difference between strength and power can be an issue for us personally also.

I have some ideas:

One: Grow our own, personal strength by having a set of values with which we live. Don't let those shift with the wind and allow every recent news broadcast to change our minds without investigation. When we realize we blew it, we don't rewrite our values unless we realize we were offbase. When we are firm in our ideas but open to truth and willing to reevaluate what we thought was truth even when it's not comfortable, that is true strength. Live by truth and have a personal code of behavior.

Two: It's important we not personally confuse power especially over others as strength that we don't confuse admiring someone who wields power instead of someone with genuine strength and this means we then vote accordingly. This is not a simple concept and I think it's much confused by our entertainment and media. People, who are personally strong, will wield whatever power they have wisely and to the benefit of not only themselves but others.

Three: This might seem like a small one, but I don't think it is. I am big on being friendly to people wherever we come across them. That doesn't mean talking or chatting them up. It means a wave, a smile or how's your day going? We do not know what someone else is experiencing or how they may feel the world is against them. When we greet them with a smile, it is strengthening to us and them. Being generous with our thanks is good in this area also.

Four: I believe time in nature appreciating the natural world is a powerful way to grow stronger. Nature is not power crazy. It is what it is. Modern man has this idea he is superior to anything and it's all about subduing nature. If we instead respected it, learned from it, now and again immersed ourselves in it, we would be stronger.

Five: Be educated and that means about what's going on in the world around us as well as in the past. I read a lot of stories about crimes that have been committed (two girls decide to knife to death their girlfriend) and some might think why read that? It's upsetting. It is, but it also is what is out there. Be educated about reality. Don't be paranoid but be aware. Naïveté, especially in a world like ours can be fatal.

Six: As much as possible, learn facts not opinions. We are bombarded by opinions on a myriad of subjects. Facts are open to interpretations but at least know them.

Seven: It's hard to know things and not take them to heart but it is what we have to do. We have to separate out what we can change from what we cannot. Know what's out there. Evaluate what we can do about it but let go of what we can't change. It's an old saw but it's also true. I do not think we are strengthened when we take on burdens that are not our own. It has us ranting and not fixing. Years ago I read a book I took to heart by Steven Covey, 7 Effective Habits of Highly Successful People. He broke down the choices we make into categories deciding what is within our control and what was not, what was urgent from what was important. This is still a book worth reading if you haven't.

There are probably a lot more that I use and haven't thought to mention here but the key idea is-- be personally strong as much as possible--  physically, mentally and emotionally; then we have more to give, will vote more wisely, and won't be blown here and there by every new idea or fear that comes along.

Photos are all our creek in June. The top one is illustrative of how reflections can be confused with reality. Enlarge to see better.


Rain Trueax said...

Adding to this post on delusions, I came across this today which I thought interesting and I hope it is explored. What difference does it make now? Well it's one more example of a truth that people assume but should they? Shocking new theory on Elizabeth I

OldLady Of The Hills said...

The article about Elizabeth 1 is fascinating...And it does make one wonder. I think so much of what you wrote is so very true, dear Rain. So many delusions because they make us more comfortable.....
Your suggestions on how to live your life are wonderful! I agree with you and love that you put it all down....They are WORDS TO LIVE BY.

Ingineer66 said...

The Soviet Union entered the war against Japan two days after we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. With little effort they made a huge land grab from Japanese held territories.
The Japanese were told to fight to the death even the civilians. They were also going to execute all allied prisoners they were holding. If we would have had to invade it would have cost at least one hundred thousand US deaths and over One million Japanese deaths. The bomb really was the fastest and least costly way to end the war.

Rain Trueax said...

Give this a try: Soviet Invasion of Manchuria. You know, a lot of what we are taught has more than one side to it. We as Americans are told ours. Russians doubtless theirs. Truth? It isn't always in the history books until a LONG time after an event if ever. We did not have to drop the bomb and open the world to the nuclear bomb age. Maybe someone else would have but we will never know.

Hattie said...

Hmmm. Maybe she was a castrated man? Fascinating to speculate.

Hattie said...

Or transsexual? Not as uncommon as we think.

Rain Trueax said...

At least this is something they could find out if the body wasn't in the royal line, the DNA would be the conclusive evidence. If the English people are interested in finding out, they can.

Rain Trueax said...

The big issue that is being pushed now is Greenwald's supposed new revelations of phone calls being monitored, except it's not new; but for some reason the media is pushing it as though it is. Is Prism really a scandal? The article is well worth reading because i do think people run from one scandal or conspiracy to another as it feeds something they want to believe. They now have a new star to follow-- for awhile.

Rain Trueax said...

More on the spying leaker as he reveals himself.

What gets me with this is that somehow the FBI/CIA/NSA could not keep track of the Boston Marathon bomber despite interviewing him and yet they can keep track of the rest of us?

Ingineer66 said...

I think most people are not worried as much about the data mining as they are that the Obama administration is using the information for political campaign purposes.

Rain Trueax said...

Well they aren't using the NSA stuff for that. And there's been no proof that anybody in the Obama White House had anything to do with what the IRS was doing-- nor even that there wasn't a logical reason they did it and now they say they were looking at leftie groups also (as they should for both).

What concerned me the most about it was knowing this came out of an outside contracting firm the NSA had hired and the guy who did it had only been there 3 months and yet had access to everything. It's more who they hire that we should worry about and that it's not with proper thought and enough time to know they can trust them before they can go that high.

Listening to him talk with this attitude he had the right to decide for the whole nation what he would do with this secret material, it's the ego that we see so often-- only the royal 'I' can determine what is good to do. So he's a hero to some and others like me wonder if there was something mentally off about him-- and why did he get that access!

Otherwise, anybody who understands the Internet knows that any hacker can access their info. It's illegal but like that hasn't stopped them from getting into big banks now and again. Do what we are proud of an open about, which includes when we dissent, and it's not a problem.

What gets me is our national inability to deal with the things we do know-- like the mentally ill shooter in Santa Monica who had a record of mental illness and yet could buy all those weapons and ammunition and once again use it to kill innocent people. It's funny how we have a government that people fear can invade their privacy and at the same time one that cannot seem to do anything about mentally ill people getting all those guns. Too effective or not effective enough?

Hattie said...

The whole security apparatus is shot full of holes and something of a joke. But it's very expensive. It provides projects and jobs to thousands.

Ingineer66 said...

Yep, Sarah Ingram visted the White House 165 times but nobody there probably knew anything about what she was doing.

Rain Trueax said...

Came across this article with more photos of the leaker and his hot girlfriend The Woman Snowden Left. I'll bet Hollywood is putting a scriptwriter all over this. Ryan Gosling to play Snowden? The bad guy though (that being the US government agents including maybe President--) who plays the villains? I know. I'm not taking this seriously enough. Okay, I'll try to quit smiling :) Hopefully it won't turn into a tragedy. I like romances with happy endings and this doesn't sound like it's heading there

Rain Trueax said...

So Romney lost because a tea party group in SD or Michigan couldn't get tax free status to run political purposes even though tax free is supposed to be primarily for charitable or at least some charitable function and not just about an election? What this says is that it's all about an election why it matters because the right wing is convinced that it would have turned the whole thing around if only those groups had gotten tax exempt status sooner.

MY opinion is they never should have as they are purely political and that means right or left but who cares what I think when the bigger issue is once more a conspiracy and the President doubtless knew that if he could keep a group of a few hundred people from getting tax free status before the election, he would win. wahahahaha.

I swear it's amazing what gets to Americans and both sides. Maybe I am the one who needs to look more for conspiracies as potential plots... Doubtless they will turn up in a movie... the NSA one though has more potential with a handsome hero as a martyr and for whom the left is making a pedestal as we speak :)

Ingineer66 said...

Just what did the committee to RE-elect do? And what did the President know and when did here know it? Those questions my remind you of something that happened 40 years ago, but it seems appropriate now.

Rain Trueax said...

there is a difference between breaking into an office and stealing information versus just taking time to be sure a 'charitable' organization is really charitable. I can't believe you think them getting tax free status to donate to a political organization was going to turn that election... You want a scandal and will take anything you find. NONE of them that are political should get tax free status. Easy solution. If League of Women Voters doesn't because it honestly does admit it's political why should Crossroads which is political only for Karl Rove's charity if any.

It was obvious any group labeling themselves tea party or patriot group was primarily interested in winning elections and not in helping out people through the usual charitable ways. You wouldn't even be arguing to defend it if you didn't think it would have made a difference in the election; so you know it's political.

Rain Trueax said...

something else on the IRS-- Issa's missing testimony. People believe what they want but this is another of those-- nothing there 'scandals' except wishful thinking on the part of the GOP.

The more i hear about these contractors and the NSA, the more I think that's another good example of government hiring outside help that convinces them they can help them when all they do is help themselves. Get rid of the outside contractors. They get all that money for something so unwieldy that they can't possibly use it for anything except their own lush lifestyle and that maybe of Congress when they give them money for 'support'.

Ingineer66 said...

My comment about the Committee to Re-elect was about the NSA spying on US citizens that have done nothing wrong after the Obama administration members testified under oath that they were not collecting data on average citizens. Somewhat like when Nixon told people that US troops were not operating in Laos and in fact they were. It is kind of funny how there keep being comparisons to things that happened during Nixon's presidency that are happening now and he was forced to resign or face impeachment.
The IRS is a completely different scandal.

Ingineer66 said...

PS I agree with you on the contractors in many cases. The military has contracted out many functions that used to be performed by service members and it costs more and leaves us less able to quickly fight a large war if needed.

Rain Trueax said...

BUT this is not the Obama administration doing it. It's the NSA and not for political purposes. So far as I've understood, they are keeping records of who people call to try and hook up with who connects with someone they know is a terrorism network overseas.

Now how that worked out that they didn't get the Marathon bomber before he did what he did, I think proves this isn't working. Too much data ends up with nobody able to read anything or figure it out. But Obama said NSA don't listen in on conversations.

Now some of what the leaker has claimed has others who have worked for the NSA denying was possible for his level of employee; so who knows right now. This is ongoing as far as a story. But whatever the case it wasn't an Obama enemy list or anything political at all-- which with Nixon, it was.

Also it is claimed that with PRISM it was only outside the country people which might be why they missed the Marathon bomber.

The main thing to me though is who they hire, what they pay, the fact it's too much data and they can't really effectively use it, that makes me say get the contractors out of it. Too me, they have snookered the government which doesn't sound new ;)

Rain Trueax said...

Coincidentally I came up with this right after I left here-- Military industrial complex bigger than ever. Bigger, more unwieldy and less effective. Will Congress though do anything about it given their fear of being thought soft on terrorism? It's not even the main story most seem to be riding with as they go into the government looking at who we call and our internet usage, which most of us assumed was happening before this supposed revelation. Unless Snowden does what he said he could do based on what he knew with revealing every covert agent working anywhere (which some say he didn't have access to but he claims he did) so far he's told us what we knew if we were paying attention. What we didn't know (speaking for me) is how many private contractors were involved in that doing...

Ingineer66 said...

Maybe if they did more to learn who is coming into the country, they would not have to spy on all of us to find out what we are doing. Based on what we have seen from the IRS mixed with the NSA story who knows what a future administration might do. If you join the Tea Party or the Sierra Club or the United Auto Workers you might be targeted for surveillance.

Ingineer66 said...

The soviets still knew they were going to win when they entered the war and they still own Sakhalin Island. They were not really our friend during the war and treated American Air crews that crashed on their territory not much better than POWs. As for open the nuclear genie bottle, the Nazi's were pretty close and the Soviet spies at Los Alamos had given them much of what we knew. It is also thought the Japanese were close to a bomb or may have even detonated one in North Korea, but the Soviets came in and gathered up all evidence and the Japanese scientists and took them back to the USSR so we do not know. Could you imagine if the Japanese would have sent a small sub carrying a nuclear bomb Into San Francisco Bay what the damage would have been?

Rain Trueax said...

It's all history and there are different takes on it.

As for fear that some government body will spy on is... I think we all figured they could. So that's new? Like one party would not and the other would? The only thing I can say is McCarthy with the right wing did the most of that... and I suspect still would :) because there are plenty of that mentality out there who for instance want any woman who has a miscarriage to have to notify the authorities. Who exactly spies the most on our liberties?