Anticipating change

One of the primary benefits of studying history is wrestling with the question “how could they not have seen that coming?”  As the saying goes, “hindsight is always 20/20,” but foresight usually falls far short of that.  Most people expect things to continue on as they always have in their experience.  Until suddenly they don’t.

Try to remember that Sarajevo once hosted an Olympics. Remember that Beirut used to be called “The Paris of the Middle East.” Remember that women used to wear lipstick and miniskirts in Tehran.

I believe this inability to visualize the possibility of disastrous change is one of the key vulnerabilities of the United States.  Yes, every generation whines about how things aren’t like they were “in the good old days” — mine included.  But few put these vignettes together into a narrative that might be pointing to a larger journey into disaster.  This blindspot in America is likely caused/enhanced by the fact we haven’t faced disaster as a society in a very, very long time by the world’s standards.  Even though we participated in both World Wars, the chance of either posing an existential threat to the United States was extremely low.  The last time American civilians had to fear soldiers on the march in their homeland was the War Between The States — over 150 years ago.

Any advanced and thriving civilization has large numbers of people – especially at the top of the pile – who are comfortable and safe, and are so for generations. This lack of meaningful threats, from birth onward, causes the amygdalae structures in the brain to not fully develop compared to prior, more stressed, generations because of a lack of stimulation; thus, the ability to recognize actual threats has atrophied. This leads to the society as an aggregate, and the leadership class in particular, taking actions that they do not recognize as dangerous, which result in the collapse of the civilization.

When gun controllers say the 2nd Amendment is outdated, they are reflecting the atrophy described above.  The Holocaust is well-known; the various Communist purges less so, but far too many believe that’s just what happens to “other people.”  It couldn’t happen in America, right?  Some people know better but choose to seek disarmament anyway, the better to advance a political agenda.  But a substantial number simply have no personal frame of reference of an experience where they were in mortal peril, and needed to defend themselves.  Media coverage of the topic emphasizes criminal use of firearms, neglecting the far larger number of cases of defensive use.  This is one reason why veterans and many civilians are separated by a wide gap on the 2nd Amendment.  The handful of veterans who are celebrated for advocating gun control are either those whose work never exposed them to danger, or who know better but desire public acclaim more than common sense.

The same dynamic is at work in the issue of mass migration.  The millions of current Muslim “refugees” (an abused term if there every was one) trigger a much different social memory in Eastern and Central Europe than it does in the West.  The advance of Islam in the Middle Ages was largely stopped at the Battle of Tours, so Western Europe, Scandinavia and England never dealt with the threat on any large scale.  Not so with the East, Islam’s initial momentum culminated in two sieges of Vienna (1529 and 1683), and sectarian violence and discrimination between Muslim, Orthodox and Catholic ensued for generations.  This is the origin of the term “balkanization,” and if you’ve paid attention you’ve heard it applied to modern demographic trends in the U.S.

That is why Polish, Hungarian and Czech attitudes toward the current wave of Muslim migration differ considerably from those of the Germans or French (though the latter two are starting to realize the consequences).

In the United States, immigration has become enshrined as part of the national experience.  The downsides of previous waves of immigrants (ethnic tensions in the cities, cramped living conditions, crime, etc) are rarely examined except to try to place the blame solely at the feet of Anglo-Americans.  That’s why those who oppose mass immigration (especially the illegal variety) today are accused of being “on the wrong side of history.”  Those who know their history, however, realize today’s wave of invaders “immigrants” bear little resemblance to those of Schoolhouse Rock fame.  For starters, immigrants in the late 1800s understood they were leaving most all ties to their homeland to become immersed in a new one, which required adaptation to language and culture.  They were scrutinized carefully by U.S. authorities to screen out political radicals, the diseased and those who would likely become a burden on society.  Today, millions have entered the U.S. without permission or scrutiny (the largest contingent by far being from Mexico and Central America).  In the U.S. they can watch Spanish-language TV, demand translation services for all official business, and largely insulate themselves from adapting to their new home if they so choose.  There is no incentive to assimilate; indeed, many ardently proclaim their greater loyalty to their country of origin.  As one person put it online:

“Too many people are coming to America just to be in America. They aren’t coming here to be Americans. That needs to change.”

In short, immigration today bears only a passing resemblance to the immigration of decades past.  It more closely resembles the settling of the Goths within the Roman Empire.

The point of this post is to emphasize that America is not immune to disaster, despite her long history.  Over the decades, many planks have been removed from the platform our Founders carefully constructed – overturning the prohibition of an income tax, allowing direct election of Senators, and so forth.  Each of these, while debated at the time, were considered incremental in effect.  But decades of such increments eventually add up to something substantial.  Our politics today are not about degrees of policy anymore.  There are irreconcilable differences in the worldviews in play, and a desire to use the machinery of government to enforce an orthodoxy at odds with our traditions.  We are at a tipping point in our history.  Those who would disarm and displace the historical American body politic now hardly disguise their intent.  Those who recognize what is at stake are more energized to resist it than ever before (hence the previously inconceivable election of a man like Donald Trump).

Many Americans assume those who are preparing for possible disaster somehow are looking forward to it.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  They fail to realize the ability to visualize potential futures and make preparations to meet them are the best ways to prevent America from suffering the fate of other nations.

What do YOU see ahead?  What are YOU doing to prepare?  What are YOU willing to do to prevent disaster?

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Molon Labe

 

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Blunted from overuse

By now it should be obvious that the charge of ‘racism’ is as likely to mean someone had the audacity to stand up to the Left than it is to mean someone is genuinely bigoted.  Case in point: there is a good argument to be made that Senator Durbin’s now-challenged accusation that President Trump referred to certain places in the world as “s***holes” was merely a setup so that the president could perform public penance by passing a DACA compromise acceptable to the Democrats.

Painting Trump as an unrepentant racist requires rewriting history, though:

2000: Trump declines to run as a Reform Party candidate.  In explaining why, he said  “The Reform Party now includes a Klansman, Mr. Duke, a neo-Nazi, Mr. Buchanan, and a communist, Ms. Fulani,” he said in his statement. “This is not company I wish to keep.”  ((For the record, I think charges of “neo-Nazism” against Buchanan have always been overblown, but that’s beside the point here.  — Jemison))

1998 VIDEO: Jesse Jackson praises Trump for a “lifetime of service to African-Americans.”

1997: Trump praised in the Wall Street Journal for opening Mar-a-Lago Club to African-Americans and Jews, a move opposed by other Palm Beach clubs at the time.

1986: Trump receives Ellis Island Medal of Honor, alongside Rosa Parks and others

Senator Rand Paul has pointed out that Trump funded one of his medical mission trips to Haiti, where the erstwhile optometrist restored vision for more than 200 Haitians.  It’s worth noting he mentioned this in partial defense of the president despite a generally bumpy political relationship with Trump.  And it’s worth noting at least one relative of Dr. Martin Luther King thinks Trump is a friend to African-Americans.

Illegal and chain immigration hurts the black community as much, or more, than anyone else.  Trump may be boastful and a loudmouth.  But it seems he’s genuinely trying to make the American Dream possible again, without regard for grievance politics.  If he can blast through the withering public sniping and achieve increased opportunity for all, he’ll have shown conclusively that crying “raciss!” is simply the last refuge of a Left that has nothing else substantive to offer.

Saturday Sounds

I usually keep these light, as a break from the week of pointing out all the ills around us. In this case, though, I think every American should see this press engagement held Thursday by John Kelly.  I have never seen a better explanation of what goes on when our country loses a servicemember — the enormous institutional effort to support the family and to honor the fallen. Sadly, as the highest-ranking military officer to lose a child since 9/11, retired Marine General Kelly knows this process all too personally.  Even more sadly, he easily points out how little direct experience the press has with it by only accepting questions from reporters who have also been there.  Was that a political move?  Yes, but also a personal one.  And let’s not forget this was originally politicized by a Democrat who thought she had another way to bash Trump.  In reality, what she did was attack a president who had no obligation to make a phone call but chose to anyway.

Two parts of his statement are worth highlighting, because in them he expresses the frustration many in our military (including me, while I was serving) feel:

On the politicization of absolutely everything: “It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that call. Absolutely stuns me. And I thought at least that was sacred.”

On the nation our military defends: “They volunteer to protect our country, when there’s nothing in our country anymore that seems to suggest that selfless service to the nation is not only appropriate, but required.”

The entire video is worth your time and consideration.

Never forget September 11, 2001

Sixteen years.  That’s how long it’s been since the worst terrorist attack in American history.  A total of 2,996 people dead or never accounted for.  Symbols of American power struck without warning: both World Trade center towers and the Pentagon.  The actions of informed passengers on a fourth plane likely averted a strike on the White House or Congress.

An entire generation had horrifying visions of previously unimaginable events happening in their own nation, with memories firmly etched into their minds.

They say time heals all wounds. And for the families of those lost that day I hope there is some measure of truth in it. But there is a flip side: such events fade in the public consciousness, such that they no longer inform or shape how the nation acts. To quote the opening of the movie “The Fellowship of the Ring,”

“…some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend, legend became myth…” (click “continue reading” below to continue)

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Perspective: Tweet of the week

This gent wins the award for the Tweet of the week… maybe the year:

Tweet of the week

I still don’t understand how folks like the Goreacle and Leonardo DiCaprio are taken seriously with their Chicken Little cries when both of them have “carbon footprints” the size of which 99.9% of people can only aspire to achieve.

After the very active 2005 hurricane season (Katrina, Rita, Wilma, among others), we were told “this is the new normal.”

  • # of hurricanes making landfall in the U.S. in 2005:  five (4 cat-3s and 1 cat-1)
  • # of hurricanes to make landfall in the U.S., 2006-2016: ten (none above cat-2)

In other words, in the ten years after 2005, there were only twice as many hurricanes as there were *in* 2005, NONE of which were as STRONG as those in 2005.  Read that again, and let it sink in.

It’s not a trend line.  It’s a cycle.  It appears this year the hurricane cycle is on the upswing.  Interestingly enough, the sun this week highlighted increased activity in its cycle by firing off the strongest X-class flare since (wait for it…) 2005.  It’s true that coincidence isn’t the same thing as causality.  But for those of us who think a ball of plasma 330,000 times the mass of the Earth just MIGHT have more to do with the climate conditions on our planet than us puny humans, this timing is certainly… interesting…

It’s a good thing for the Goreacle, the would-be environmental profit, er, prophet that the Biblical response to prophetical error is no longer observed.  Of course, even he’s backed away from the idea he’s a prophet.  He just thinks he’s the messenger, and as his cult likes to say, “the science is settled.”  Yeahabout that…

Today we can just be content to say shut up, Al.”

Hope in the storm

Hurricane Irma is scheduled to start her run Sunday up the spine of Florida–a State I have many ties to.  It’s a unique display of the destructive chaos of a fallen universe.  I don’t put much stock in leaders who often jump to declare individual disasters as specific judgments from God for specific failures of a group of people.  The Bible certainly confirms He has done so in the past.  And we live in an age literally hell-bent on thumbing our nose at God.  But I believe in this age of Grace we now live since the sacrifice of Christ, these “acts of God” are less often conscious action on His part than they are inaction to stop the built-in consequences of a creation frustrated under the weight of sin.

There are two things to consider here from God’s view.  First, the world increasingly rejects anything to do with Him.  Second, times of catastrophe focus us on what’s truly important and necessary far more than do times of calm and comfort.  So rather than seeing God as a cosmic killjoy looking for excuses to hurl lightning bolts at wrongdoers, I believe the better analogy is one of a rejected Lover who has sadly granted our world’s desire to leave His presence and prescriptions, and as a consequence lose His protection as well.

But that’s the “big picture,” so to speak.  The wondrous part of all this is that God doesn’t just deal with humanity.  Or a specific nation.  Or a specific city.  He treats with each of us individually, desiring a personal relationship based on reciprocal love.  This is unlike any “religious” conception on earth: the Creator desiring individual communion with His created.  Despite humanity’s sinful nature He cares for us and hears us — our needs, wants, fears, and confessions.  Just this week a family I know was stranded far from home with a broken car well after business hours.  Yet God answered their pleas for help with an amazing turn of events that brought the right people (including an off-duty mechanic) and provided the resources to get them safely on their way again.

So in the midst of the storm; in the midst of the effects of the rule of this present darkness, we all have the privilege to seek shelter through prayer in the love of the Father, made possible by His Son, Jesus Christ.  It’s not simply a “get out of jail free” card, or some kind of magic spell to ward off tragedy.  No, this presence He offers provides comfort, perspective, and strength regardless of what happens physically:

(King) Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good.  But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

That is the comfort and strength I’m talking about: the confidence to trust God, obey Him, and let Him work all things for the good of those who love HimIt may not be the “good” we think we want.  “Unfair” things will happen.  We may lose our jobs.  Our earthly possessions.  Even our life.  But for those who love God and trust Him, any and all of that pales in comparison to the eternal joy that awaits us when we see Him face to face.

Everyone reading this is facing storms.  It may not be a Category 4 hurricane, but we each have pressures that threaten to crush us.  Know there is a God who cares for you, who is far more powerful than any storm you could face, and who desires what He knows is the best for you.  Ask Him for peace.  For calm in the midst of the storm.  And    *Even If*    it seems the storm has taken everything away from you, know that if your trust is in God you already have everything you need.  There is nothing that can take that away from you.

Nothing.

May the Lord bless and keep us all, according to His good will.

Information overload

It’s good that there’s so much discussion of “fake news,” but the problem is that the discussion isn’t focusing on the problem: a lack of discernment and desire to find truth.  Partisans of every stripe grasp onto every little rumor, leaping to conclusions as recklessly as one would leap over the Grand Canyon.  Meanwhile, there isn’t a single major news outlet that hasn’t sold its political soul to one faction or another.  We’ve developed two hermetically sealed echo chambers in this country and neither has the pursuit of truth as its top priority.  We’re told (incorrectly) the First Amendment has exceptions to defend people from being “uncomfortable” or “triggered.”  This is merely suppression of opposing ideas.  I’m concerned this is the first step in our cultural cold war becoming a hot one.  People are no longer “of a different opinion;” rather, they’re evil opponents.  Hostility is projected, received and internalized.  With all the careless talk about impeachment, or obstruction of Trump’s initiatives (which still have a sizable backing in the nation’s heartland), the ability of our political processes to address the issues is coming apart.

What happens after that step is likely going to be very ugly.  What are you doing to prepare?

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