Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Safe Place

This post has been joggling around in my head for a while. Some things have slippery edges or sharp corners. Eventually, what is dimly sensed precipitates out, even amid the whitewaters of living. Ion Pacepa’s book on socialist tactics has helped in recent days, filling in gaps and succinctly giving the history, development, and bitter fruits of socialist, communist disinformation.

Violated trust. Lost innocence. When was the last time you were burned by someone? The saying flashes into mind, “You fool me once—shame on you. You fool me twice—shame on me.” No one likes trust breakers. Every one wants a “safe space”.

Burglars. Do you remember the Beagle Brothers, comic book villains from a different time? They were so easy to spot—the brown and blue numbered prison uniforms, the heavy black rimmed goggles, the scraggly three days beard, and, of course, the sacks full of loot. And, those bad guys always came in at least a group of three, driving a broken down car. Yah, easy to spot! Not so with socialist disinformants.

The Judeo Christian democratic experiment of America was based upon respect for and cooperation with authority. Differences of perspective created occasional, severe national conflicts, but time washed away most acids, and ongoing generations knew seasons of national peace and growth. The time honored formula for success under authority was—fear God, obey the ruler, honor your father and mother. Americans can be easy to subvert. Trust and honor is very easy to abuse.

Glasnost. According to Ion Pacepa, chief of Romanian intelligence under Nicolai Ceascescu until his defection to America in 1978, glasnost was not a new attitude of openness and democracy birthed in Russia around Mikhail Gorbachev. Glasnost was the ancient “polishing” of the ruler’s persona and public image, made possible by changing official documents, by rewriting history, by reinventing personas. Glasnost was the policy of all Russian Czars, dating back to Ivan the Terrible of the sixteenth century. Glasnost is spinning new “truth”.

My personal experience is that things go best when leaders are honored, even if they have cracks and faults. This has been a policy of my electrical business. Pay for the permits. Do work to the required standards. Plan for inspections. Avoiding war with inspectors has been good for business.

Do I agree with all the electrical rules? Maybe not. Can I work within the system to challenge abuses? Yes. And, most electrical inspectors abhor glasnost.

The same cannot be said for other pillars of community. Along with swallowing the opiate of Russian glasnost, western professors and media have fawned on many other Russian points of disinformation. Pacepa details how Yuri Andropov and and the international arm of the KGB set up western leaders to think Nicolai Ceaucescu was a reforming Communist, moving away from totalitarianism towards democracy, a forlorn rebel against Russia who was bravely leading his country towards western freedoms. Ceaucescu was an intentional dry run for the Gorbachev “glasnost” to follow.

Disinformation. The west fell for it. At the height of the deception, Pacepa defected, eventually writing a book for Romanians that felled Ceaucescu, detailing his horrific crimes against humanity, and leading to his death by hanging. Jimmy Carter had been offended at Pacepa, especially at the evidence that his brother Billy had been recruited by communist infiltrators. Carter issued a gag order on Pacepa, apologized to Ceaucescu for Pacepa’s defection, and promised that Pacepa would not harm US-Romanian harmony. The Reagan administration reversed that order in 1985.

Whatcom County is groping its way through water management policy decisions. Our county is a kaleidoscope of cultural, moral and financial diversities. Soviet style disinformation, however, is ripping Whatcom county apart, and the reserves of goodwill are draining away. As many county citizens concentrate on personal survival amid growing financial and moral adversities, subversive elements quietly reduce voter accountability, while clamorously fanning fears of catastrophic environmental collapse.  Agenda driven (21 anyone?) political psuedo science eventually unravels, but leaves a trail of wreckage in its wake.

A student of Soviet tactics can see the shoots of Soviet style socialist, totalitarian inventions springing up in America. Massaged by mainline media, by educational and labor union leaders, by multinational corporations such as Microsoft (Common Core), trusting Americans alternate between Tea Party ascetic, do or die reactions, and Madison Avenue “you owe it to yourself” luxurious escapism.

Confusion. The intended goal of Russian disinformation was to create confusion, to eliminate trust. The Vietnam anti war movement was deftly orchestrated by Soviet agents. Pacepa tells it all. Andropov’s great delight was to see the Western media and educators become skilled at disinformation, and joint long term laborers in his cause.

Confusion. Trust breaking is at epidemic proportions. It is much easier to lie, to destroy, to steal, and kill than to speak truth, increase values, enabling the poor while raising one’s own offspring. Today's youth have a crisis of confusion. When a house is pulled down on the heads of its occupants, can it be rebuilt?

Confusion. A  farmer sacrifices to send his child to college. In college, “honorable, trustworthy” professors rant against the environmentalist farm practices that bought tuition, books and residency.

Confusion. Well owners are highly suspicious of large farmers and the proposed Water Improvement Districts. Farmers are tired of trying to make the Water Planning Unit work.

Confusion. Did I miss your particular circumstance? Who is the stranger that you do not know or trust? How much trust capital should be risked when there seem to be so many agents of disinformation in the media, in the colleges, in the county planning, parks and health departments?

The first bottom line is that there is no safe space on this green and blue and brown ball. There is no safe family, no safe circle of activist friends, no politician or bureaucrat that does not eventually disappoint and offend.

There is no property rights group, or water rights group, or animal rights or wilderness preservation group that can guarantee vision, relationships and outcomes.

Even religious Americans get shorted. Ministers lose their touch. Church buildings wear out and programs get boring. When the King of the universe lived with men, even he was crucified. But there is the rub. The second bottom line is that the divine change agent rose from the dead. 

According to unreligious writer, David Goldman, in his uncomfortable book, “How Civilizations Die”, only evangelical Americans and orthodox Jews resist the spectral dirge to limit children to one or two per nuclear family. Why does he say that is? These groups have hope. An expectation that goes beyond death. An eternal, secure reward. A safe place. The next trust conflict need not impact eternal hopes.

The third bottom line? Trust is forged one relationship at a time. The giving of alms, the showing of mercy can build trust in flashes and surges, but it can be rebuffed and wasted just as grimly and wickedly.

My suggestion? First, focus on a key result area. Don’t try to be an expert on every area of county policy. Support your person at the planning commission, or on county council, or at the port, or at your local school board. Connect with those who are in other areas. Share information and encouragement. Diligence in a smaller area enables trust and coordination, and ferrets out destroyers.

Secondly, avoid the temptation of purity tests. There are many people who think like you, who desire trust, who offer trust, but differ in certain values. Relationships are eternal. The loss of physical assets may be painful, but the loss of trustworthy friends can be terminal. Seek wisdom in balancing asset trusts vs relationship TRUST!!

The fourth bottom line? Trust is a chosen risk. I may open myself up to a stranger, and they could destroy my life, my family and my assets. They could also supply just the solution that I have been missing for “so long”. Am I willing to take that risk? Am I ready to “die”? to be slightly embarrassed? Even to pass from this life?

So, it comes to the fifth bottom line. Wisdom for assessing trust worthiness is needed. I can grow it slowly and painfully in the school of hard knocks, or I can jump start wisdom by absorbing it from people who have gone before. The Proverbs of Solomon are outstanding purveyors of wisdom!

Can politicians, activists, or bureaucrats be truly known? Can their trustworthiness be screened?
One—Their budgets (not their press releases) show their trustworthiness from yesterday.
Two—Their friends (not their degrees or net worth) show their trustworthiness for tomorrow.
Three—Their book reviews (not their promises) show their trustworthiness in coming years.

Is it possible to be a peacemaker? Yes! People can be brought together. But, there is a price to pay. Disinformants put a bulls eye on the back of the trust builders. Thieves need confusion.  There is always pain and slander for salty, radiant peacemakers.

Are you up to the challenge? Are you ready to trust? My suggestion and goal? Follow the example of the greatest public activist of all times. Get to know his Father as he did. That is where the safe place is.

-- JK