Why I’m Still Here

It was just over a year ago that I kicked off this blog with the following quote from Saint Thomas Aquinas:

The name of being wise is reserved to him alone whose consideration is about the end of the universe, which end is also the beginning of the universe.

I then proceeded to write on a variety of topics—technology, politics, global warming, philosophy and religion, whatever—some of which I extended into multi-post series, and so on. And then I stopped for a little while. You see, I had started this blog to vent some things (much to the happiness of my wife, who was, frankly, tired of hearing me gripe about them), but as a side effect of venting, I eventually began to feel a lost sense of purpose. After all, those of us who take the time to start and write on our blogs are, to some extent, just yelling into the wind. And after yelling into the wind for a while, I began to ask myself: what’s the point?

This is something I’m sure all bloggers ask themselves at some crucial period in the lives of their blogs, and something that all bloggers must answer if they are to continue blogging. For some of us it comes sooner, for some later, but it is a question that all of us must answer at some point if we are to continue devoting time and energy to this craft. For me, the question manifested itself at around the beginning of the year: what’s the point?

And so my posting lagged, until a few days ago when I was going through my movie collection and came across one of the most brilliant and deliciously seditious movies ever made, and which I hadn’t watched in a while: V for Vendetta. For whatever reason, I always feel somewhat moved and liberated when I watch this film, and this time around it was this snippet of dialog, towards the end of the movie, that stuck in my head:

Creedy: (firing a pistol at V) Die! Die! Why won’t you die?! Why won’t you die?!

V: Beneath this mask, there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask, there is an idea, Mr. Creedy. And ideas are bulletproof!

The power of V for Vendetta, and why it is, and will always be, timeless in its message is not because it is a movie about revenge and revolution, but because it is a movie about the power of ideas; specifically the power of ideas to move you from the state of banality required for evil, and apathy, and complacency, and many of the other ills that ail us to take root and gain hold. Behind every revolution is a movement; behind every movement is an idea. And to this I will go one step further: behind every idea there is a voice.

Behind V’s mask there was an idea, but behind that, more importantly, was a voice. And thus it is with this blog and any other: a voice. Many times, it is a voice that is yelling into the wind. But, sometimes, even a voice into the wind is heard by others, and when enough people begin to yell, you may have the formation of an idea, and then maybe a movement, and then maybe a force for change. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Am I a revolutionary? No. Nor do I desire to be. But at some point, my children, or their children, will task me as to what I did to rise above the banal and help stop the world from burning, and I will at least be able to tell them that I was a voice. Not an idea, not a movement, not a revolution. Just a voice. And for now, for me, that is enough.

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Filed under General Grunting, Philosophy

The Circle

I just finished reading The Circle, the highly entertaining and disturbingly thought provoking novel by Dave Eggers, in which the plot concerns a fictional corporation (“the Circle”) that is best described as what would happen if Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Google, and many other social media companies that are now currently disconnected were to merger under one roof. I will not get into great detail about the book in this post, but you can go here and here if you want to read the reviews. Suffice it to say that the brilliance of the book is that it is both simple and entertaining to read, yet very deep on many levels. I would consider it perhaps the most astutely written warning to date concerning the lack of privacy in social media; a thought-provoking meld between 1984 and A Brave New World.
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Filed under Fear, Technology

To Dissent

The Internet tells me that “to dissent” is to publicly disagree with an official opinion or set of beliefs; to withhold assent; to express an attitude of non-agreement to a prevailing idea or an entity; to refuse to conform to the policies of the state. It is a guiding philosophy of activism; it is the spirit that drives civil disobedience and radicalism; and, at its heart it is the battle for the soul that rages within each one of us every day, in foro conscientiae: before the tribunal of conscience.
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Filed under Philosophy, Politics

On War, Part 9

In December of 2010, a Tunisian street vendor by the name of Tarek al-Tayeb Mohamed Bouazizi stood in front of the governor’s office in the rural town of Sidi Bouzid, doused himself with gasoline, and set himself on fire to protest the severe economic conditions suffered by himself and much of the local population. Outraged by the events that led to this act, thousands of people staged public protests that quickly spread throughout the region, engulfing not only Tunisia, but nearly the entire Middle East and parts of North Africa. At the time of this writing, some three years later, the governments of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen have been forced from power, with major protests and civil unrest still occurring in Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, and Algeria, amongst others. It is yet to be seen which of these governments will survive the coming year.
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Filed under History, Politics

On War, Part 8

The partnership between a people and their government is not a fiction. The fiction is that a government will honor that partnership devoid of active participation by the people. In absence of active participation, any government will naturally assume it has ultimate authority, and it will eventually degenerate into one of the various authoritarian variants. Democracy, therefore, exists only through the will of the people, and it survives or dies based upon their determination to defend it.
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Filed under History, Politics

On War, Part 7

When one considers war, it is most often with regard to the actions of the state against its enemies, and these enemies are almost always represented as nations or groups external to the state and its people; that is, the “us vs. them” conflict of one country or tribe against another. However, war can also be turned internally, initially in the form of civil disobedience, progressing up the turmoil curve through rioting and radicalism, and ending with revolution and civil war.
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Filed under History, Politics

On War, Part 6

It was inevitable, after the long, grinding quagmire of the post-9/11 Iraq War, that it would be compared to the quagmire of Vietnam. Of course, there are many differences: one occurred in Indochina, the other in the Mid-East; they occurred in different generations and under different political circumstances; one involved use of the draft, the other did not, with resulting differences in the scale and depth of public resistance; the access to information by the public was substantially different, as the Internet obviously did not exist in the Vietnam era; and, most notably, the fact that the planners of the Iraq War had something that the planners of the Vietnam conflict did not: the example of the Vietnam War. Yet, for all their differences, the most important comparisons are where they are remarkably the same: specifically, the disturbing degree to which propaganda and doctrine served to almost completely remove the decision makers from reality, with predictable results.
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Filed under History, Politics