Superman

Here is a link to a video from the news of this week.  It is pretty self-explanatory.  I could not embed the video because the embed code seemed to be broken on the news site’s side.

Enjoy.  It is worth it.

An Interesting Look at North Korean News and Policy

Here is an article from today’s North Korean News.  I think that this story is a clear view into the thinking of this government, its propaganda, and dysfunction.  This is officially from the North Korean government, but the English version is published to the web from Japan.  The highlights are added by me.  And yes, I do read the North Korean News…nerdy I know, but true.  We’ll discuss after the clip.

First of all, the title-what government in the world would officially call the leader of its rival country “rat-like”?  Further, the title threatens the South with annihilation.  This is not a new thing, by the way.  North Korea does this on a regular basis.  You notice that it says “Lee Myung Bak Group.”  The North will not refer to the South as a separate country.  It likewise does not call itself North Korea.  Its official name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).  Like many Communist countries, this is funny because the country is neither democratic, nor of the people, nor a Republic.  They got the Korea part correct, at least.  In DPRK indoctrination, South Korea is actually a rebel group that broke off from the DPRK, and therefore, they are traitors to their country.

The next paragraph is classic North Korean propaganda.  The first sentence contains a grammar error, and much of the paragraph is run-on, near garden-path sentences.  They adore words like “provocative” and “sycophant”.  My favorite part of the piece is the “…made by an old man more dead than alive.”  They love to throw in these like sentence prefixes and suffixes that have no justification in the piece, as if by simply saying them, the statements become true.  This Orwellian idea of double-speak is a mainstay of N. Korean news.

Two more paragraphs in, it threatens the South with destruction, that everyone should take seriously because of their recent “striking demonstration” of power.  By this, they must mean the failed missile launch a week ago.  North (and South) Korea are prime examples of the Asian obsession with face.  They will do anything to prevent themselves from being publicly embarrassed.  Their failed missile launch was intended to threaten the world and display their prowess around their Day of the Sun celebrations.

The embarrassment they see on the world stage will be reacted to in two ways by North Korea: First, like an abusive spouse, they will find a bad guy to focus their anger on.  Reading this article makes it seem like the South were the ones embarrassing and provoking them.  If you knew nothing about the events of that launch, you would think that the North had succeeded, but the South had mocked them despite their triumph.

Their second reaction will be to double down on their rhetoric and provoke further.  This article threatens the South in even more harsh language than usual.  They will also test another nuclear device in the next few weeks.  They might even fire a few rockets, or shoot at a South Korean ship.  It is all intended to deflect from their embarrassment.

A great question the world needs to ask itself, is if it can afford  a country with nuclear weapons, that will use them simply to avoid their own embarrassment.

Below, I have linked a video that explains their Day of the Sun celebrations.

Leading the Story in the 21st Century

Narrative HeaderStar Wars and Narrative

I recently bought the original Star Wars trilogy on DVD.  Together, the people in my household have been watching them one by one.  Unbelievably, everyone under my roof have not seen these movies up until now, except for me.  I have had to explain how one could not truly understand American culture until a person has seen—no experienced–those movies.

Most Americans have not only seen the Star Wars movies, they have memorized them.  But I’ll even take it a step further.  Most people have in some way become a part of the Star Wars narrative.  They have bought the merchandise, dressed up as a character a time or two, had some sort of light saber battle, and/or had some sort of theater experience.

My Mom was pregnant with me when she saw the first movie.  I saw the re-releases at a giant theater in southern California at midnight, where most people were dressed up and reciting the lines with the characters onscreen.  Star Wars is a part of my story.  It’s in my blood.

The reason why this is compelling is not because 1970’s special effects are still cutting-edge, or because no movies since have come close to that level of dialogue and character development.  It is because Star Wars is great narrative, or maybe even the best narrative.  That is what compels people to see it.  But I’m not just talking about the story on screen.  The greatness of the narrative has surprisingly little to do with the plot of the movies themselves.

Yes, the actual story in the movies is great, which is part of what fueled the original success, but there is far more than that.  There are the special features-type stories of where the characters came from, how the ships were built, and even how Lucas came up with novel ideas for filming.  People knew these stories long before home movies were even around.  But beyond that there are stories of “where I first saw…” and memories of all the times that each person somehow interacted with the idea behind Star Wars.  Star Wars is not a movies series, or even a brand.  Star Wars is a story…and it is all part of our stories.  And that is what sets Star Wars apart.

Star Wars is not peculiar in this regard, it is just a great example.  There are other movies, TV shows, books, and even events.  Nor is this a new phenomenon.  What is new is how communications technologies have transformed the popular consciousness and ways of processing information to make this concept of narrative far more important than ever before.

The Revolution in Culture

But the same point about movies is true about companies, products, and political candidates.  Truly, the world is nearing the end of a revolution in communication, a revolution that has changed very fundamental parts of the way people think and act, and ultimately is very good.  But, like any revolution, those who can’t evolve and those who refuse to understand will be left far behind.

You can see the revolution all around you.  You see it when you realize that movie blockbusters get people to wait in line for hours to sit through a brief film that won’t affect their lives all that much, while no one waits in line to hear a sermon on Sunday morning.  People flock to Lady Gaga concerts, when no one would suggest that she is the best musician on the scene.  But beyond these examples, the viral videos and memes of the Internet all become part of the lingua franca of our culture.  The evening news reports of riots in Egypt have been largely replaced by youtube videos and tweets of the average people there.  Story has become not only the message, but the way that messages are communicated, and the way they are absorbed.

Why is this the case?  It is because people crave the narrative.  People think in story.  A good story will draw people much better than a sermon about “3 ways to be a better dad.”  People love the narrative of Lady Gaga much more than her music.  Story motivates, enthralls, and ultimately inspires action.  And it is this concept that will either be a key to success for future leaders and motivators, or guarantee failure in the new social setting of the 21st century.

The 2008 Election

This is why people like Barak Obama and even Sarah Palin have seen success in the last few years.  The election of 2008 was a lock for Obama long before any votes were actually cast.  It had nothing to do with race, or even hatred of Bush.  It was really all due to one simple fact: Barak had a compelling narrative that people felt a part of, and McCain had none.

Remember the election?  Barak Obama stood for hope and change.  He stood for people chanting “Yes we can!”  He was the mixed-race son of an immigrant.  He talked a lot about what he believed and what we could achieve, and seldom talked about how we could do it.  What was his economic plan?  What was his health care plan?  How was he going to extricate us from Iraq and win in Afghanistan?

This isn’t to put him down.  It wasn’t that he didn’t have a plan, or even that his plan wasn’t any good.  Those issues don’t matter to his success, and didn’t matter to those voting for him in the election.  He wasn’t elected on his ideas.  He was elected on his narrative.  That is also the reason why people react to criticism of Obama with such rabid ferocity.  To attack his idea is to attack the narrative, and the narrative is not just his story, it is theirs.  That is why they wear his face on T-shirts, buy magazines and books with him on the cover, and give him Nobel Peace prizes before he’d accomplished anything.

What was McCain’s narrative?  He actually has a great one.  He’s a warrior from Vietnam who spent years being abused in a POW camp.  He is also a long time warrior with results in the Senate.  But during the election, he suppressed all of that in order to focus on the whats and hows of the issues.  When the recession hit hard, he suspended his campaign to come up with ideas to fix it.  That was very admirable, but it further removed him from the story.  Further, although the memory of Vietnam is still rather fresh for many Baby Boomers, it is not the narrative of the last 20+ years, and it certainly could not have been the central narrative of the 2008 election.

When election day came, people did one of three things.  Some voted for Sarah Palin’s narrative.  They marked McCain’s name, but it was the narrative of Sarah Palin that motivated them (look at the polling for McCain before and after her entry to the scene).  Some voted against Barak Obama, for one reason of another.  But many more than either of those two groups joined in the Obama narrative.  Barak won decisively.

Narrative in 2010

In the 2010 election, the story was reversed.  The narrative now was all about a “Tea Party.”  New leaders had arisen, talking about fiscal responsibility, and tying their stories to the story of the founding of the country.  They adopted the American story as their own, and called people back to the ideas that America was originally built on.

Speakers for the Conservative movement started talking about George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and the Constitution.  The message was pretty simple, American exceptionalism as a kind of gospel, the Founding Fathers as apostles and martyrs, and the Tea Party leaders as evangelists of this new gospel.

Average Americans were showing up at rallies and speeches, joining the new narrative with their own.  No longer was the message about what one was being told by Rush Limbaugh.  Now people were calling Rush Limbaugh to tell what happened in their city, and they were posting photos on Facebook and hash-tagging it on Twitter.  The Mainstream media and liberal commentators were trying to stop it by using terms like “Tea-baggers,” but they were playing into the very hands of the movement.  They were simply adopting the narrative.

The Democrats had no counter.  They had no narrative.  Health care reform had passed.  They were in charge.  There was no compelling story to sell, and no story was told.  The base was barely engaged in the election.  Even Liberal veterans in states like California were afraid, and digging their claws in to hold on.

The election was a landslide.  The story was believed and it motivated people to go to the polls and vote for their favorite story that now included them.  The incredible momentum of 2 years ago now seemed like a political eternity.

He Who Tells the Story…

Narrative is now the main force in American politics.  In a way it always has been, but now the image-makers and strategists cannot ignore it.  The winners of elections and the leaders with true influence will be the ones who control the narrative, and even more importantly include the average voter in that storyline.  The money and power of elections will be not the ones who spend the most on TV ads and bumper stickers, but the ones who leverage social media, viral video, and who tell the most compelling story.

This is because these media are where the narrative is being communicated, and further where the whole tale goes viral, where it joins with the people’s own story.  Facebook for instance, will not be nearly as important as just another type of billboard or position statement, but as a way to interact, and hand the baton of the story off to the community.  Successful leaders must think conversation more than TV ad.  For when Sarah Palin puts up a message on Facebook, people hear it.  But when someone comments on the message she just put up, in a real way now they feel as though they have entered into the conversation with Sarah Palin, and their friends are all now included.

This is not to say that money on print and TV ads will not be important.  On the contrary, those who don’t get their story told to the biggest possible audiences will have no ability to control the narrative or include others in it.  Nor does the focus on social media mean that money can simply be thrown into these technologies in the same way that they are thrown into TV and print.

The real center of power, and money-making potential will be in crafting the narrative and handling the exchange between one way communication and conversation.  The challenge will be in making the message  become a story, and making the candidate’s story become the people’s story.  And the ability to control and manage that narrative will be the difference between the future John McCains and the Barak Obamas. -Ryan

For further research on this, watch this incredible lecture by Simon Senek on Ted.com

Wikileaks, The Federal Reserve Bank, and a blind free press

Wikileaks Header

A Busy Week in the Newsroom

For connoisseurs of news and politics, the flurry of activity this week has been thrilling.  There have been assassinations in Iran, countries in the EU going bankrupt, and another little scandal brought on by a website called Wikileaks.org.  Over the last day and a half, the US has also willingly revealed some rather embarrassing information about the actions of the Federal Reserve Bank over the last few years.

On Wednesday the Federal Reserve revealed new information about the recipients of the money given in 2008 and 2009 in order to bail out businesses and banks under TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program).  The information also indicated dollar amounts the bank has given.  According to The Washington Post, the Fed essentially loaned GE $16 billion, Harley Davidson $2.3 billion, and Verizon $1.5 billion.  None of this was publicly known prior to Wednesday’s announcement.  This new information is serious and troubling, as partly indicated by its placement on the front page of many newspapers and top-red status on the Drudgereport.

This federal candor brings to the surface some serious questions.  Why would the government choose to release such scandalous information at this time, when they are already embarrassed by the current leak of information?  Further, what do they stand to gain through this level of disclosure?  Finally, how could government funds allocated to some of the largest companies in the US, totaling $3.3 trillion go unnoticed by any of the nation’s news outlets until now, and what does that mean about the state of American journalism?

Candor in the Fed

Time almost always clarifies questions such as these, but at this moment Wikileaks appears to be more the impetus behind this Fed announcement than merely tangential to it.  Wikileaks has been a constant thorn in the side of the US government over the past several years, as it has revealed increasingly damaging and embarrassing classified information about the government’s secret activities.  This week, they began publishing 251,287 classified US diplomatic cables on their website.  While this document dump is possibly less damaging than some previous leaks, it is very embarrassing for the US.

But what appears to be even more significant is the website’s claim to be on the verge of releasing information on “a major bank that is still in existence,” according to a Reuters report.  Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange has declined to announce the name of this bank.  So people are guessing.  Prognosticators are placing their money on Bank of America.  They might be wrong.

Of course there could be other reasons for The Fed’s recent disclosure, but it appears likely that they are assuming that the next Wikileaks disclosure (set for January) will target the Federal Reserve Bank itself.  This would make sense.  In order to stay relevant, Wikileaks is under pressure to have increasingly major leaks to share.  It is not clear what vendetta the site has against the United States (if it is not simply about freedom of information—which seems doubtful), but it is clear that the site is focused more on government actions than it is on business corruption.  Sharing secret bank documents would be somewhat out of the site’s typical MO.

If the Fed assumes that the next leak is to be about them (whether it actually is or not), it would make sense for them to dump this information while there is already so much political embarrassment on the table.  The chances that the banking information will get lost in the glut of news are much greater, and it takes away power from Wikileaks disclosures, lessening the impact.  If the Fed is wrong on this guess, they will be playing into Assange’s strategy quite nicely, however.  The Fed must assume that this information cannot be hidden forever, and now could be as good a time as any to release it while it must compete for front page status.

A Blind Press

One question that doesn’t appear to be answerable at the moment is, how in the world did the entire US free press miss $3.3 trillion in unreported aid sent to major American businesses?  That much money does not get hidden very easily, even in an economy the size of the United States.  One might understand how money sent to GE, which owns NBC and affiliated news outlets, might have suppressed this inside their newsrooms, but how the news could have escaped every competing outlet and the blogosphere is simply astounding.  Perhaps the American free press should be more embarrassed about this disclosure than the Federal Reserve Bank and the US government.

Many answers to these riddles will have to wait until after January.  But the American public should expect more self-disclosures by the US, and possibly American banks, and further world tension involving Wikileaks.  December and January should be quite exciting.   -Ryan

Investigative Journalism Awesomeness

Extra

According to Miriam-Webster one of the hallmarks of what defines journalism is “writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation.”  The framers of the Constitution of the United States understood that this was a key aspect of a free society.  This was inherent in the protection of the fourth estate written into the First Amendment.

Bloggers and Foxy News types are always complaining that this has been forgotten, but sometimes we need a refresher course with some easily digestible facts.

Case in point

LA Times articleA recent Hot Air link from the Los Angeles Times gave a snapshot into statistics regarding the current immigration controversy in Arizona.  The Article by Teresa Watanabe, Immigration now a top concern among Latinos, poll shows, reported that the poll “of 504 Latinos” revealed that immigration was now the main concern of American Latinos, spurred by the new Arizona immigration law that they overwhelmingly opposed.

The article further stated  that this issue would “galvanize Latinos of all political stripes into voting in November,” and that the majority would only vote for candidates supporting an “immigration overhaul.”

All of this may be quite accurate.  But as usual, there is a lot written between the lines of this article.

To her credit, at least the author lists the sponsors of the survey, the Hispanic Federation and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).  What Ms. Watanabe leaves out is that both the Hispanic Federation and LULUC have a very clearly presented agenda that is perhaps important in determining the validity of any survey that they undertake on the matter of immigration.

Hispanic Federation ArticleThe Hispanic Federation, whose mission is, “To serve our community by building and supporting Latino institutions,” has recently put out a statement both condemning protection of the border and demanding “comprehensive immigration reform” as the only fix for our immigration problem.  Keep in mind that “comprehensive immigration reform” is one of those liberal talking-point catchphrases for  amnesty for illegal aliens.  “We need comprehensive immigration reform so hard working undocumented immigrants, who do the jobs other Americans won’t do, can finally come out of the shadows,” I believe is the officially sanctioned wording these days.  When any of these phrases are used, it becomes pretty clear which side of the issue the author is leaning toward.

On its homepage, the Federation refers to the survey in question, and gives the community’s reaction to the “Racial profiling law.”  One could not by any stretch of the imagination consider the Hispanic Federation an impartial party in this issue.

Lulac's websiteLULAC is far more militant as an organization.  Their website has an open call to boycott Arizona, although they trickily word it as, “boycott Senate bill 1070,” superimposed over the state outline.  I guess this prevents anyone from saying they actually called for a state boycott.  How clever.  I guess they also  fail as a disinterested survey party.



One would expect better results from someone with a USC degree like Teresa Watanabe.  But oh, wait!  Her Facebook page lists her as a fan of Reform Immigration For America.  Their agenda is made perfectly clear.

Teresa Watanabe's FacebookReform Immigration for America's website

So to recap, Thoroughly researched article—fail; Objective writing—fail; impartial survey—fail; LA Times writer trying to uncover truth wherever it may be found—massive fail.  This is no surprise.  In a recent survey conducted by RyanShinn.com, the Los Angeles times was found to be unreliable by 92% of respondents.

Why is this so bad?

Thomas Jefferson said that, “Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it.”  He wasn’t the only one with this sentiment.  The press was understood as being the main instrument to counter inevitable propaganda intended to control and enslave a free society.

Dictators have also long known this.  Vladimir Lenin stated this principle quite nicely. “The press should be not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator, but also a collective organizer of the masses.”

It comes as no secret to anyone paying attention that the American main-stream press has largely abandoned the value of a free press in favor of acting more as a mouthpiece for propaganda that more easily fits their world-view.  But this fact needs to continually be brought back to our collective consciousness, lest we forget.    -Ryan

2009 Predictions

As events unfold throughout the year, I do my best to reflect how they have fulfilled my beginning of the year predictions.  That said, there are a few recent events that I found noteworthy.

First, there was the recent terror plans in New York City and Denver that seemed to have been foiled, at least for now.  I had predicted that this year there would probably be an attempt (not that wild a guess, really).  I also Twittered about the likelihood of one upcoming soon merely weeks ago.    There is a good article about the recent situation here.

Second, although I did not put this as one of my points in this year’s predictions, one of the things I have been discussing at great length is that the big social policy debate of the coming years will be on the issue of assisted suicide.  This will be less aimed at terminal disease pain relief, and more about the elderly.  Unfortunately, I haven’t written much about it on here.  Last week, Newsweek’s cover story, “The Case for Killing Granny,” advocates this position in a way that I could not have imagined (and still can’t believe).  As if on cue, the Brits are following right along, according to this Reuters report-Ryan

copyright-notice

The Fall and Rise of Barbarism Part 7

This is part 7 of a multi-part series.  Read part 1 here.

Barbarian
Barbarian

The Effect on Faith

Exactly what to expect for America itself in this future, is very difficult to say. Possibilities include a weakened America existing in its same form but having less world influence, to America’s basic destruction by both outside, and internal fighting, or America existing more as a pre-Civil War loose collection of states. There is no way to predict what the American future will look like at this time.

But that doesn’t really answer what will happen to the American and world Christian outlook. Christianity does not rely on Americanism, of course. But America does powerfully affect the world Christian community. While the growth of the Christian faith is epicentered in both African and Asia, with secularization and Islamification being more prevalent in the West, America is still the center of the financial, resource, and influence world of faith.

The loss of America’s influence will certainly have a huge affect on the Christian world. But how this will work itself out in time is not estimable at this time. Certainly, there will be destabilization in the Christian community. This will most like work itself out to mean that there will be no Capital for Christianity. It might also end in increased persecution around the world, as there will be no powerhouse to protect Christianity’s interests.

However, history tells us that persecution is good for Christianity, as it causes the Christian community to invest fully in their faith, to make Christianity less a culture, and ends in enormous numerical growth. As Christians, we don’t have to worry about the future of the Church. We know what happens in the end. We don’t know all that will happen between then and now, and we certainly know it won’t always be easy.

But that doesn’t really answer what will happen to the American and world Christian outlook.  Christianity does not rely on Americanism, of course.  But America does powerfully affect the world Christian community.  While the growth of the Christian faith is epicentered in both African and Asia, with secularization and Islamification being more prevalent in the West, America is still the center of the financial, resource, and influence world of faith.

The loss of America’s influence will certainly have a huge affect on the Christian world.  But how this will work itself out in time is not estimable at this time.  Certainly, there will be destabilization in the Christian community.  This will most like work itself out to mean that there will be no Capital for Christianity.  It might also end in increased persecution around the world, as there will be no powerhouse to protect Christianity’s interests.

However, history tells us that persecution is good for Christianity, as it causes the Christian community to invest fully in their faith, to make Christianity less a culture, and ends in enormous numerical growth.  As Christians, we don’t have to worry about the future of the Church.  We know what happens in the end.  We don’t know all that will happen between then and now, and we certainly know it won’t always be easy. -Ryan

copyright-notice

The Fall and Rise of Barbarism Part 6

This is part six of a multi-part series.  Read part 1 here.  Read subsequent posts here.

Barbarian
Barbarian

The Fall of Giants

We have gone past a point in America where we can turn this clock back.  Many experts believe that the American century is over, and the next century most certainly won’t be a repeat.  I believe that the evidence backs this up, both historically and in terms of current events.  This doesn’t mean we will fall into the sea.  It does mean that things will be different.  A look at history should shed light on what may be to come.

When the empires of Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, Britain, and The Soviet Union fell they left differing decrees of chaos in their wake.  The latter empires left lesser degrees of chaos, but their empires were also dovetailed with another stabilizing empire (in both cases the United States).  The Romans were unique in that there was no other competing empire to really challenge their existence, similar to the situation that the United States faces today, although certainly the European Union (itself a powder keg) Russia, and nations like Canada and Australia are stabilizing.

The Roman empire didn’t just end.  It fractured, as its fringes sought their own independence and regional power.  The competing states model that followed drained the regional competing countries of all internal resources, as they invested in war and outside competition.  Far more resources were expended in competing for resources than were ever gained by those resources.  The result was what we know call the “Dark Ages.”

During this time, the one rising competing empire was the Muslim Caliphate leading to the Ottoman Empire.  The rapid expansion of the Muslims into the carcass of the Roman Empire was almost without challenge.  When Europe finally realized that they needed to respond, it led to the Church controlled Middle Ages, and ridiculous Church corruption and pollution by the world.  It was hundreds of years before the Roman norms of indoor plumbing, rights for middle class, and secure resources where even imagined again.

As America loses its stature in the world, this does not have to echo the fall of the Roman Empire.  The European Union could provide stability in the absence of America’s influence.  Most other countries would likely lack the resources to be capable of this.  However, Europe has its own massive battles to fight.  Europe is in sharp decline, at least as the Europe that has existed for modern history.  They are facing another Muslim invasion, but this time it’s a more peaceful one.  Within 10 years several European countries will be majority Muslim, and almost all of Europe’s non-Muslim population in irreversible decline.

The religious issue in this regard is almost secondary.  The Muslim populations in these countries are not melding into society as other immigrants do.  They bring their own ideas of governance, Sharia law, etc.  This will certainly lead to serious conflict, as can be evidenced already beginning in France over the last 5 years.  Non-Muslim Europeans will either allow themselves to accept Dhimmi status under Muslim controlled governments, or they will rise up.  These conflicts will make it difficult for Europe to be much of a stabilizing force for the world. -Ryan

copyright-notice

The Fall and Rise of Barbarism Part 5

This is part 5 of a multi-part series.  Read part 1 here.  Read subsequent posts here.

Barbarian
Barbarian

The Emotional American Stanza

There is another cycle at work within America that we need to be aware of.  Just as revivals in the early 1900’s brought about the Pharisee-ism of the early 20’s, which led to crime in the 30’s, we are in a part of our own cycle now.  The Bush years seemed to be a revival without revival, and a triumph of moral legalism (at least as far as the mainstream media and far left would have us believe).  The public responded with a “Yes we can believe in change.”  But now crime is seriously on the rise and healthy society markers are on the decline.

Of course, forces completely outside of human control, or at least strategic planning, could change things in a heartbeat.  But today the decline is possibly spinning out of control.  This is also the first time in modern America where our moral compass has no North.

Think about it for a second: The state of California (and they are not alone in this) has increasingly been restricting any and all tobacco use.  This is not a bad thing, really.  But at the same time, the state has been rapidly relaxing marijuana laws.  There are now cities where it is legal to smoke pot on your porch, but a Marlboro will get you a hefty fine.

Our states are slowly allowing marriage between homosexual partners and whole denominations are allowing actively homosexual ministers, while calling the homosexual “lifestyle” immoral can get you publically censored and censured.  On television, “Oh, God” has become the most frequently used phrase, but “I love Jesus” is never used unless it is somehow a joke.  Cartoons of Mohamed are self-censored from newspapers…the same newspapers that write blistering articles pitting Christian leaders as being ignorant or even evil for their faith.  -Ryan

copyright-notice


The Fall and Rise of Barbarism Part 4

This is part four of a multi-part series.  Read part 1 here.  Read subsequent posts here.
Barbarian
Barbarian

Where We Go From Here

So what is next? Are we on the cusp of a new cycle, or are we coming to the poem’s bridge? Maybe we are finally poised to break out of this iambic pentameter, and start a new ee cummings Dadaist phase.

If historical reality is allowed to sink in, I fear that the forecast is pretty bleak for our little stanza. As history is somewhat-cyclical, then we need to have an understanding of 2 main issues in order to estimate where we are going. Essentially, it is the same as understanding getting anywhere. We need to have a basic understanding of where we are now, in relation to all that is around us including our momentum, and we need to have an understanding of where the path we are on is going.

So where are we in the historical pattern? What direction have we been going? Truth be told, we have been in an era of unprecedented blessing. My generation is really the first generation in America who has known no real hardship. Generation X was born after the debacle of Vietnam, and though there have been wars since, they have seemed no different to the average American than movie trailers being played during Prime Time TV. There has been no gas rationing, no Polio, and since the toppling of the Soviet Union there hasn’t even been a real threat to our way of life.

All of this created the circumstances that made 9/11 such a powerful moment for our time. We have been dwelling carelessly in the west, as if we were teenage boys, shielded from any possibility that our bones could break, our wallets could empty, and our lives could actually end someday. Our foreign and domestic policies nationally have been mere macrocosms of the average American family. With out of wedlock birth rates aroung 50% and our budget running in the red every year, our only answer to our problems was to go out and buy a nice present to make ourselves feel better.

We are responding to the current economic crisis by firmly placing our heads further in the sand. Just like an alcoholic responding to an intervention by drinking himself into a stupor, we have responded to astounding national debt by creating a CARS program designed to spend more money helping people to buy cars that neither the government, nor the consumer can actually afford.

No one of accredited education could believe that we could continue such ridiculousness, and it is almost beyond believing that we could even pull ourselves out of this mess without massive cultural and governmental overhaul. If we truly want to know our location, it is teetering on a cliff, and we have responded to the danger in typical lemming fashion.

Great Empires don’t usually succumb to sudden external attack. Sun Tzu was right in saying that an intelligent enemy would never attack in a way that plays to ones strength. Our civilization’s enemies would rather sign our death warrant in much more strategic and subtle ways. Great empires have usually been defeated at the hands of themselves more than their sworn enemies, anyway. As Lincoln said, if America was doomed, that its end would come by suicide.

Both the Greek and Roman civilizations fell apart as their societies descended into decadence, and then turned on themselves when they could no longer support their own lifestyles. Foreign invasions were just clearing the already rotten carcasses of these empires. The British empire ended because the small island had clearly overstretched herself, and exerted her influence far beyond what she could actually defend. There is no reason to believe that we are not in the same position.

This doesn’t mean that the United States will become a barren wasteland. Instead of fracturing into states and city-states, we might continue without nearly the influence we have wielded for the last hundred years. -Ryan

copyright-notice