Wednesday, October 25, 2006

People Of The Lie

Hubby and I had dinner with one of his colleagues and colleague's wife the other night. Other engineer-lawyer couples make for entertaining dinner discussion and this couple never fails to deliver. Wife is an uber-liberal public defender with an unending catalog of fascinating stories from work.

Dinner conversation begins with the easy topics but, of course, inevitably leads to religion and politics. Wife explained that, although she is a liberal, she can respect a Republican with divergent views so long as his or her opinions have logical foundations. In her analytical, lawyerly way, Wife described an exchange she had with a Republican friend of hers in which they tried to pinpoint their point of divergence. "After going back and forth, struggling to find the fundamental different between our political beliefs, we found it - he thinks there are people who are irredeemably evil and I do not."

"Interesting", I responded, "I tend to agree with your Republican friend".

Free Agency Rules and I recently debated the concept of evil and several of the points overlapped with my discussion with Wife.

"People Of The Lie", by Christian psychiatrist Scott Peck, is the beginning point for a real discussion about evil. In this thought-provoking work, Peck approached the concept of evil from a psychiatric perspective -- evil is the opposite of life (as evil is live spelled backwards), i.e. it is anything that has its purpose to distort reality.

The symptoms of an evil personality disorder are
  • consistent destructive scapegoating behavior, which may often be quite subtle.
  • excessive, albeit covert, intolerance to criticism and other forms of narcissistic injury.
  • pronounced concern with one's public image and self-image of respectability, contributing to a a stability of lifestyle but also to a pretentiousness and denial of hateful feelings or vengeful motives.
  • intellectual deviousness, with an increased likelihood of disturbance of thinking in times of stress.
People who suffer from this disorder are people of the lie. Who they are, how they are weaved seamlessly into our society without notice and the destructive nature of their disorder is illuminated through several case studies in the book. They are people who are so narcissistic that they would rather distort reality, kill, lie and cheat than ever admit their own imperfection.

Are they people beyond redemption?

Applying Peck's definition and my own observations in life, I remain of the belief that there are people of the lie who are beyond redemption absent some drastic remedy such as a lobotomy or suffering brain damage.

We can point to the easy examples of evil such as Cheney, Stalin, Mao and Hitler, but those are cliche extremes. It is the local, everyday evil with which we contend that is of interest to me. No matter how hard I try, I will never be able to grasp what motivates a grown man to adorn a white cloth and burn crosses in someone's yard. Perhaps there are KKK members who were young and immature, but for such an organization to survive, there must necessarily be a core of fanatics who live and die for the cause. Those people are evil. The Catholic priest who, in the morning, doles out the bread and wine to the masses and, in the afternoon, shares the real treats with the altar boys. Evil. Consistent destructive scapegoating and excessive intolerance to criticism are part and parcel of this administration and the media lapdogs at Fox News. A fundamental lack of objectivity and honesty, regardless of what the facts are. Evil. Oh, and add Rush Limbaugh to the list for mocking Michael J. Fox. Super Evil.

The human psyche is like a computer hard drive - it does not matter if you hit the delete button, the information is there and will always be there. Permanently. You can try to put new information on top of it, but the only way to keep the old information from fighting its way to the top is through consistent effort and introspection. As most narcissists think they are perfect and, thus, do not see themselves as having a problem that requires consistent effort to fix, they will never put in the work that is required to overcome the evil that is who they are.

They are beyond redemption.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Building More Fences

On the occasions that I have shopped for an apartment or home or have joined friends through the journey for a personal castle, similar requirements have been mentioned about the neighborhoods. At least middle class cars should be in the driveways, no furniture or cars on the lawn and the surrounding homes should be at least neatly maintained.

Conventional wisdom also goes that neighborhoods of homes with bars on the windows and steel gates on the doors are probably unsafe. Or at least that is the logic.

Perusing today, an article about China got me thinking about the global neighborhood. China has erected a fence along part of its border with North Korea, it seems, for much the same reason the United States intends to wall off Mexico - to keep out people who are escaping poverty and oppression.

Building fences is nothing new of course. The Chinese, at great expense, built a wall to keep out the marauding Mongols from the north. Germany was split in two for decades. The Palestinians are being cut off from the olive groves of their ancestors by the giant wall that grows with each new day. America wants to electrify the line between California and Tijuana and now China comes full circle in its own history, adding a southern fence as a compliment to the northern one that serves no purpose other than to attract curious foreigners.

If bars on the windows are signs of an unsafe neighborhood, then the global move to build giant fences between countries speaks volumes about the evolution of humanity. After thousands of years of so-called progress, we imprison ourselves in our nations in the name of being safe, losing all connection to the outside world.

Sometimes I wonder if humanity is either too lazy or has abandoned all hope of living in a safe neighborhood. It is easier, I suppose, to put bars on the windows than make peace with your neighbors, but the neighborhood never feels as welcoming and the home starts to feel like a prison.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Naked Imperialism

The Big 4

Recent stories about James Baker's admission to the elite circle of imperial strategists illustrates the shallow analysis that is the corporate media.

Mr. Baker, we are told, believes America has a myriad of options on the spectrum between "cut and run" and "stay the course". Baker's "commission", which I can only assume includes no Iraqis, is considering dividing the nation into three regions under some rag-tag federal system.

The entire article rests on the assumption that James Baker has the right to decide how Iraq should be structured and governed. Unburdened by any challenge to this assumption, the author of the article directs the audience to a false debate whether there is a middle ground between the hollow cliches of "cut and run" or "stay the course". Such is the arrogance of naked imperialism.

The headline brought to mind the Versailles Treaty. On January 18, 1919, after the end of WWI, the leading statesmen of the United States, France, Britain, and Italy -- the so-called "big four" -- met in Paris to decide about the future of the defeated German and Ottoman Empires. In addition to unanimously agreeing to punish Germany for causing WWI, the Big Four divided up the vast Ottoman Empire among themselves. Britain created a "mandate" in Palestine, which is the precursor to the endless violence that has plagued its people since 1948. Jordan was created out of thin air, arbitrarily imprisoning the wandering Bedouin into an invisible cage. Iraq, another fictitious nation, and Jordan were gifted to the Hussein brothers, who had betrayed the Turks at the behest of the British.

The conflicts we witness today are the direct result of the invisible lines carved on the imperial map in 1919. Kurdistan, as a contiguous region of ethnic Kurds, ceased to exist. With the haughty wave of a pen thousands of miles away, Kurds instantly became citizens of Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Syria, needing passports to visit their families in a village one mile away. The Shia of Iraq, once freely allowed to travel to the religious shrines of Iran, were now restricted in their practice and pilgrimages and ruled by an illegitimate monarchy that used Sunni Islam to justify its control over the vast energy resources of the region.

Fast forward almost 100 years and history is once again repeating itself. In the hands of a nameless American bi-partisan commission lies the fate of the Iraqi people and the nation of Iraq. Perhaps the Americans will decide to keep Iraq unified or maybe, with the haughty wave of the pen, the nation will be divided into three regions. One can envision James Baker and his imperial cohorts sitting around a table with an army of erasers, undoing the lines drawn on that fateful day in Paris in 1919, substituting them with the better judgment of a new century.

While it is unclear what the outcome of the commission will be, one thing remains certain -- the people on the ground will once again be excluded from the decisions of the naked imperialists. History never fails to repeat itself.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Would You Like More Foley With That?

The still unfolding drama surrounding Mark Foley's sexuality and preference for young boys is a fair enough target for the media. A party that touts itself as the pillar of morality and as the center of American "values" (whatever that means) is deserving of the mockery it is now receiving.

Jesus warned his followers, "Do not judge, lest you be judged" -
For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, Let me take the speck out of your eye when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."
Matthew 7:2-5

There is something delightfully amusing about watching the American hizballah be whacked with the same yardstick they have wielded like nuns in Sunday school for the past six years.

As with so many stories that dominate the headlines, however, one must wonder what stories are being ignored by the media to dedicate so much attention to this guy. With each day comes more speculation of who knew what when, a new denial, the Republican spin that Foley was really a Democrat or the guys were really 18. But does it matter?

The truly devout will continue to worship at the Republican altar regardless of whether yet another of their corrupt heroes, who they worship at a level of idolatry that would make Hitler jealous, falls from grace. The Catholic Church did not collapse upon revelations far more egregious than those getting peddled on the front page of all the rags that pass themselves off as newspapers in this country.

I can't help but be suspicious when the media obsess over nonsense like Jon Benet Ramsey, Lacey Paterson, Natalee Holloway or Mark Foley. These are second-rate soap operas that hold the attention of only the most depraved among us.

So, while you weren't looking, the real news whisks by unnoticed and without the attention it deserves.

It turns out Iraq is entering into Saddam-era oil deals with China.

There is no discussion about why the murderer terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, who bombed a Cuban airliner is not being sent to Gitmo.

Soon, America's military children will be parented by cardboard cut-outs.,,1890286,00.html

Monday, October 02, 2006

Suicide Shooters

I think today's shooting at the Amish school makes three school shootings in a week in our dear, perfect, moral, Christian nation. Add a pedophile Congressman responsible for passing legislation to protect children from sexual predators and, all in all, it's a great day in the hypocritical neighborhood.

A few thoughts on these tragic events.

Why aren't these people called suicide bombers or, more appropriately, suicide shooters? They are no different than the Palestinian suicide bombers in their quest to take some companions with them on their journey to the hereafter, yet no such label is created or applied to this sickening problem. Perhaps it is because once there is a diagnosis, you cannot continue pretending there is no disease.

Why is no mention made of the religion or race of the culprits? Amazing that their cultural reverence for guns (and easy ability to obtain them) is nowhere mentioned in the media as a possible contributing factor to such behavior. If they weren't White or Christian, rest assured we would hear all about their racial and religious backgrounds.

Is it just me or does it seem odd that the party of God -- in Arabic Hizballah, in English Republicans -- sent their pedophile comrade to an alcohol treatment center instead of to church? I thought Jesus was the answer to sin. Apparently, the American hizballah have more faith in AA than they do in their so-called religion.

If we are fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here, does that mean the U.S. military is going to start bombing the home towns of all the suicide shooters? Following the Bush logic, that seems like the most sensible way to protect innocent schoolgirls from the terrorists that prey upon them. Indeed, unless you accept enemy propaganda, you know that random people who had nothing to do with attacks against you like being bombed, will welcome you as a liberator and will not be inspired to fight you.

"Terrorists" are never going to destroy this country from the outside. We are doing a fine job of it on our own internally.