cipher - key to a cryptographic system.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Path to National Insanity

When I was growing up, I got by believing simple truths like one plus one equals two and if you jump off a tall building without a parachute or a giant air bag you'll die. As I listen to the litany of absurdities being propounded by so-called "experts" and believed by their devotees today, I feel the need to take cognitive leaps that would make Eval Knieval faint. Unfortunately, in today's politically correct culture, accepting the premise is a prerequisite for entering the discussion.

Someone will insist that Elvis is alive, that Sasquatch is real, that the Loch Ness Monster has been sighted again, that evil is good or that good is evil. Is it me, or is the society around me off its rocker? Most of the time I shrug it off and move on, but lately I find myself straining to understand, not the absurdities, but why so many people are so utterly stupid in their devotion to them.

I may have discovered one possible explanation this loopiness when I googled "examples of logical absurdities" and stumbled upon the Uncyclopedia. According to the website,

"Uncyclopedia is driven by a global community of more than 100,000 volunteers - 98% of whom are dedicated to vandalizing and destroying things for the remaining 2%. Over almost four years, these volunteers have vandalized, slandered and vanitized more than 11 million articles in 265 languages. More than 275 million [emphasis added] people come to our website every month to make our lives difficult, free of charge and free of advertising."

Sounds like the mission statement of today's mainstream media. But I digress. Two Uncyclopedia examples should suffice:

"Cows are unable to swim for anything but very short periods of time. This is due to the fact that they don't have complete control over their sphincter, so they 'leak.' When left in the water for even as short as 15 minutes, cows will fill up with water and sink."

"Because of an increase in carbon, a gas naturally present in great quantities in the atmosphere, the Earth mother will try to evict us by raising water levels 80 feet within the next two months and putting out the sun ... and creating a black hole that will engulf us ... and destroying all Wal-Marts."

Don't laugh; people actually believe this stuff.

After a few minutes surfing the Uncyclopedia, a light went on; someone must have misspelled Uncyclopedia as Encyclopedia and distributed millions of print copies to every educational and media establishment in the country.

A cursory review of current mental health statistics in the United States indicates an alarming epidemic. According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, anxiety disorder, a common form of mental illness, affects 40 million adults in the US age 18 and older. If mental illness were a contagious disease, we would be facing an apocalyptic pestilence. The numbers continue to skyrocket.

If you think “people have gone crazy,” be encouraged; at least you aren’t oblivious. A society’s systemic mental state will deteriorate as its citizens become hostile toward truth and moral absolutes. As a society grows more hostile toward truth, it will become more hostile toward people and institutions traditionally associated with absolute values and standards of truth.

When a nation abandons love for the truth, it will spiral into cultural insanity and eventual cultural demise. Insanity indicates late-stage deception. Cultural death always follows metastatic deception. How is it that the people of Germany, a nation possessing enough scientific and technological intelligence to field some of the most sophisticated military technology in history, could be deluded into following Adolph Hitler, like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, into national ruin? Deception eventually left Germany in a heap of rubble. The moral of the Third Reich is that superior intelligence and vast amounts of knowledge will not save you from stupidity born of deception.

History is replete with similar examples of megalomaniacs who rose to power on a throne of lies, out of a citizenry left defenseless by ambivalence toward the truth. During many years in professional and volunteer Church work, I have had countless opportunities to spend time with people who would be considered mentally unstable. Not one of them possessed a healthy grasp of reality or the truth.

Only nations whose citizens fight for absolute moral standards and possess a love for truth will survive the tsunami of moral equivocation and situational ethics that is already undermining the nations.

Cultivate love for the truth! If you are unsure what is true, join the quest. Do not relax your grip. Do not yield. The way that leads to individual and societal stability and longevity is narrow; few find it.

Monday, April 14, 2008


At The Compassion Forum held at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania on Sunday night April 13, both Democratic presidential candidates were presented with a simple, but profound question, “Does life begin at conception?” Their answers are telling.

Senator Hilary Clinton: I believe that the potential for life begins at conception. I am a Methodist, as you know. My church has struggled with this issue. In fact, you can look at the Methodist Book of Discipline and see the contradiction and the challenge of trying to sort that very profound question out. But for me, it is also not only about a potential life; it is about the other lives involved.

Senator Barack Obama: This is something that I have not, I think, come to a firm resolution on. I think it's very hard to know what that means, when life begins. Is it when a cell separates? Is it when the soul stirs? So I don't presume to know the answer to that question. What I know, as I've said before, is that there is something extraordinarily powerful about potential life and that that has a moral weight to it that we take into consideration when we're having these debates.

There was so much side-stepping, some attendees might have thought their GPS guidance system had led them to a western line dance instead of a Democratic presidential debate. The obfuscatory answers remind me of the song, The Witch Doctor, by Alvin and the Chipmunks, “Oo-ee-oo-ah-ah, ting-tang, walla-walla-bing-bang, oo-ee-oo-ah-ah, ting-tang-walla-walla-bing-bang.”

Truthful answers to simple questions favor brevity. Complicated answers tend toward concealment. While evasive, both of these answers tell us a lot about each candidate. Senator Clinton's and Obama's answers were essentially the same; I will use Mrs. Clinton's statements here.

“I believe that the potential for life begins at conception.”

The potential for life begins well before conception, even before sexual intercourse, assuming a fertile man and a fertile woman. Indirectly, Mrs. Clinton answered the question in the negative. Since, by definition, potential life is not life, Mrs. Clinton does not believe life begins at conception. I infer that she believes it is okay to end a potential life.

Next, Mrs. Clinton spoke of her denomination’s position,

"My church has struggled with this issue. In fact, you can look at the Methodist Book of Discipline and see the contradiction and the challenge of trying to sort that very profound question out."

This statement implies it would be unreasonable to expect Senator Clinton to adopt an unambiguous position, especially since her own denomination can’t come to terms with the issue. It sounds like she is "passing the buck" by deferring to a higher authority than herself. I believe there were some Nazis in World War II who used a similar argument to justify their actions.

Incidentally, there is nothing profound about the question, “Does life begin at conception?” The fact that life might begin at conception is the profundity staring back at any soul choosing between life and abortion, whether to continue with an inconvenient or embarrassing pregnancy.

Since we can't be certain the fetus isn’t a life, including abortion on the list of possible "solutions" is automatically unethical and represents the worst kind of deviant presumption against God's design. Would it not be unethical to demolish an abandoned building if we thought there might be a homeless person inside, unwanted though they might be? It is equally unethical to abort an unwanted pregnancy if it might be a life.

Finally, Senator Clinton says, “But for me, it is also not only about a potential life; it is about the other lives involved.”

I understand about the life and well-being of the mother. But what other lives is she talking about? The father? When did he start getting a say? The parents? I didn’t think they were allowed to know. Let’s cut to the chase. The life and “well-being” of the mother argument has been used to trump all other considerations, including the unborn child's life, and make it okay to terminate a pregnancy, at any time, for any reason.

Senator Clinton's answer implies that the moment a potential life's head pops out of the womb, thus certifying it's status as a life, the mother's future is shipwrecked and her pursuit of the American dream abruptly ended. With only nine abortionist-shopping months in which to choose, the mother will just have to keep her fingers crossed that her fetus is only a potential life. Sadly, Mrs. Clinton's perspective no longer rouses a failing national conscience too weak to respond.

A good follow-on question might have been, “Is it okay to end potential life?” Or, “When does a ‘potential life’ become a life?” Or, “If we can’t be sure when a potential life becomes a life, when and on what basis does it become okay to end a pregnancy?” Or, “What is life?” Does “not knowing” grant absolution?

Here’s a simple set of principles for evaluating candidates:

Principle 1 - If you can’t be trusted to “get it right” on human life, you can’t be trusted to “get it right” on anything less important.

Principle 2 - Everything else is less important.

Principle 3 - If you are wrong on life, you are not fit to lead a nature hike, much less, a nation.

If these principles make me a “single-issue voter,” then I’ll wear that awareness ribbon proudly.