Are You Being Targeted?

I’m glad I died long before humans and computers began consorting. I never claimed victory in my search for an honest man–although, then again, was I honest when I said I was searching?

In any case, in your time, Facebook, video games, Twitter, and the computer thingie du jour draw you in like flies to a jar of honey. Even worse, you go willingly. Pity.

What if they worked together–or are working together? Google and Amazon know what you want. Facebook knows almost everything else.

But, what if one of the search engines or bots (they’re really the same) tracked your ability–or inability–to separate fact from fiction? If you readily believe the various conspiracy theories without adequate facts to support that belief?

There would be lots of money to be made by selling lists of such people to advertisers, scam artists, and (of course) all of the Nigerian Princes who are trying to get their inheritance.

Fool me once, your fault. Fool me twice, my fault. Fool me three times and I’m an easy target.

Hey! This magic potion will make you rich!

Corruption

Over the millennia, I’ve seen kingdoms and nations rise and fall. Some nations are created by Divine edict, by military conquest, by discovery, or even the will of the people. However, most tend to die by the same method.

They rot from within.

The wars you’ve seen recently–Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam–were all failed or failing states. They either were already corrupt, or ripe for corruption. That’s not only how nations fall, it’s why nations fall.

Through corrupt means, the elites enrich themselves at the expense of the general populace. As the gap widens between the haves and the have-nots, the people become divided. The division may be political, religious, or philosophical, but most often it’s economic. The wider the gap between the wealthy and the rest of the population, the more likely it will devolve into destruction.

Hitler came to power because the German people were economically desperate due to reparations from the First World War. Hitler was an outsider–a non-elite–who was viewed as a possible savior. Lenin was also an outsider viewed as the solution to Russia’s problems. The Nazis and the Communists each set conditions for a division within their country.

Who will be next? There are a number of likely candidates. What’s your guess?

 

Us, Them, and Me

“I” am powerful. “We” are dangerous.

If someone has an agenda, such as a politician or an actor, the worst way to build a following would be to sit  down, one-on-one with another individual and lay out the idea in a logical format. Why? The listener would examine the proposal, critically evaluate its merits and reach a logical conclusion as to its intellectual merit.

On the other hand, if the proponent presents the idea to a group–the larger the better–inevitably there will be some who agree with it. When these people express their support through cheers or chants, more will pick up the emotion and join in. Eventually, few will be silent.

Unfortunately, one of the easiest emotions to stir up in people is irrational hate.

The same people who had welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem, turned up at his illegal overnight kangaroo court with cries of “Crucify Him!”

In America, there has often been the idea, spoken loudly, that, “The only good [Insert group here] is a dead [and here].”

My advice to you is “Never let go of yourself. The individual is better equipped to make decisions than any group.”

In George Orwell’s novel 1984 he spoke of “groupthink,” in which all, or at least most, of the members of a group accept an idea because the group does, not because they have made a conscious and deliberate decision that it is what they believe. There is another term for this–mob mentality.

Perhaps the idea is best expressed in the movie Men in Black: 

Kay: A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it. Everything they’ve ever “known” has been proven to be wrong. A thousand years ago everybody knew as a fact, that the earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on it. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.

Seen It All Before

In the last few millennia, I have to admit, I’ve seen a few things that weren’t funny, true, or worthwhile the first time around, but keep repeating:

– Emperors or other leaders making promises they will never keep.
– People being surprised by such broken promises.
– Sycophants who line up to serve the current emperor;
the same sycophants who served the previous emperor, who had a totally different
set of values;
and who will line up before the next emperor, regardless of his values.
– Emperors and their advisors who sit in their towers to determine what is best for
others, without ever consulting with them, and having never experienced their lifestyles or challenges.

It falls upon philosophers and teachers to attempt to warn of such issues; the issues that damage societies and eventually destroy them. Such was the fate of Greece, Rome, the monarchies of Europe, and the explorer nations.

Unfortunately, over the same millennia, none of the rich, the powerful, or the elite have paid the tiniest bit of attention to any of our warnings. I am not surprised, but my greatest desire is that some day I will be–at least once.

A United States President

 

tyler
John Tyler Gravesite, Richmond, VA Courtesy Wikimedia

Pardon me for not writing much lately because everything seems so contentious, so I avoid writing anything that might be offensive to the President, Congress, any City Council, or PTA, anywhere.

It’s not as if I don’t like writing about politics and presidents. With my love of history–considering I’m a historical figure myself–I naturally, I find them fascinating. However, I’ve decided to limit myself to politicians from the 19th century or earlier, one of the most fascinating of whom is John Tyler, our tenth president.

Originally a Democrat, he became a member of the Whig political party (gotta love the name–and it has nothing to do with hair!). The Whigs did not have a platform, choosing instead to campaign against Martin Van Buren and the Democrats, blaming them for the poor economy that had begun three years before the election.

The Whig’s candidate, William Henry Harrison was elected president in 1840 with John Tyler (“Tippecanoe and Tyler, too” was their slogan) as his vice president. Harrison died of pneumonia 31 days after being inaugurated, and before the cabinet could declare Tyler as “Acting President,” he assumed the title of “president.” He was derided, behind his back, as “His Accidency.”

As president, he was often at odds with the mainstream members of his party; he was a fan of tariffs and frequently vetoed bills–even those from his own political party. His reason was that he believed the president–not Congress–should set policy. Members of his cabinet resigned and a number of his nominees for the cabinet were rejected by Congress. There was talk of impeachment, and the Whigs expelled him from his own party. One of his major efforts was to annex Texas to protect it from Mexico, although Texas statehood did not occur while he was in office.

After the attack on Fort Sumter, Tyler signed Virginia’s Ordnance of Secession in November, 1861 and was appointed to the Confederate House of Representatives. He died before the first session in February 1862.

Tyler was the only President of the United States whose casket was draped with a foreign flag (the flag of the Confederacy). He was also the only president who was named an “Enemy of the State.”

Taking One for the Team

There is a reason I lived 24 centuries ago. Even though I never succeeded in finding an honest man, my chances were far better then than now. The lamp I carried in my search remains unlit.

Here is the Washington Post article that convinced me that honesty is not valued in your time.

Today, 800,000 federal civilians are working without pay and 380,000 are furloughed. A small (about 2 percent ) pay raise was planned for all federal civilian workers, but this was frozen by President Trump.

But not to worry.

Senior political employees in the White House will get raises, including Vice-President (does that mean he’s president of vice?) Pence will be getting about a ten thousand dollar pay raise. No longer will Vice-President Pence have to struggle to make ends meet on $230,7000 (plus expenses), but will have his pay increased to $243,000 (plus expenses).

That’s the 21st century version of “taking one for the team.”