2018 – A Personal and Political Reflection

31 Dec

But in the privacy of his own mind he admitted to himself that, yes, it had changed. If he’d allowed the odd voice in the centre of his skull operational control over his mouth, which he’d never do, he knew better than that, but if he’d said it, it would have said: They’re waiting for something to happen. We’re only pretending everything is normal because we don’t know what else to do.

The Power, Naomi Alderman

2018 should have been a great year.

My youngest son was born in November 2017. I should have had a chance to get to know him, while preparing my oldest son for his move to a different nursery and moving house myself. Instead, even as 2017 turned into 2018, I was starting to cough badly. It took months of experiments with various medicines (and my wife’s insistence that we go private and shell out for a CT/MRI scan we couldn’t get on the NHS) before we found out that I had lymphoma. It was just in time. I collapsed on the day I was supposed to have my first chemo and wound up spending three weeks in hospital. It turned out that I had a nasty chest infection that had made the lymphoma considerably worse (or vice versa).

It was probably the most worrying three weeks of my life. There were times when I honestly thought I wasn’t going to get out of the hospital bed alive. I was moved between the haematology and high-dependency ward twice. Even after I did get out – and got sent home – I had problems walking (and then I caught an infection that drained me again). I feared I would never be able to work properly again. I was lucky to finish Para Bellum and then write The Alchemist’s Apprentice before I caught yet another infection. Cry Wolf (The Empire’s Corps 15) has been delayed because of a combination of influenza and chemo brain. Right now, I’m just waiting for a scan to tell me if the final treatment was enough to slay the monster and let me return to a normal life.

I’ve had health and mental problems for most of my life, but this was scary. (One of the doctors said I seemed to have been far too accustomed to discomfort, which probably does me too much credit.) The sensation of my body steadily breaking down was frightening, all the more so because no one seemed to know what was wrong. They thought I might have asthma or even stress-related problems before realising the truth. (Credit to Aisha for insisting on the scan.) Lying in that hospital bed, browsing the internet – it was two weeks before I was even able to scribble down ideas for books that may never be more than a handful of notes in my notebook – I had far too much time to reflect on my life and the world at large.

In many ways, of course, I was lucky. Ten years ago – or thereabouts – I would have been very lucky to survive. (It was odd to avoid the chemo brain until the fifth treatment, or so I have been told; the other side effects were no walk in the park.) In many ways, everyone alive today is lucky too. We are wealthy and privileged beyond words compared to our parents and grandparents. If you don’t believe me, think about this – there wasn’t anyone in 1918, from the richest to the poorest, who could afford the kind of medical care, let alone freedoms and luxuries, that we have today. The world was still a big place. Today, a mere eighteen-hour flight is enough to reach practically anywhere on Earth. I find it hard to comprehend, sometimes, just how many limitations our ancestors faced. They would find it impossible to comprehend the things we take for granted.

And yet, we fear for the future.

You can see traces of this everywhere, if you bother to look. The rise of nationalist parties across the EU. Riots and racial/ethnic/racial tensions on the streets of Europe. The ongoing culture wars in the United States. Growing fascist powers to the east, fragmentation to the south; political and social elites increasingly separated from their people. And a rise in books speculating about the next great war, from a Russian invasion (yes, I wrote one) to an Islamic takeover of Europe. And while you may think that is silly, it’s worth noting that the years before the First World War were marked with countless books anticipating the conflict and the fall of the old order.

In some ways, of course, this was inevitable. The Cold War froze some conflicts – European borders were largely inviolate during the Cold War – and placed limits on others. Both sides were nervous about a relatively small conflict turning into a global holocaust. However, the Cold War also sowed the seeds of future conflict, in ways both subtle and gross. The conflicts in the Balkans, for example, had time to fester before outright fighting finally broke out after the Berlin Wall fell, while the United Nations (really, a pipe dream from the start) rapidly sacrificed all claim to any form of moral authority. The delusion that all countries were equal would have been laughable, if it wasn’t so tragic. It was nothing more than something to be cynically exploited by governments with no regard for the rules.

Other problems could have been avoided, if men with vision had looked ahead. There was no need for Western Europe to have a massive crisis of confidence, for want of a better term, or to try so desperately to stamp out nationalism. But the fear of populism and militarism – which had helped propel Hitler and Mussolini into power – ran deep. The European Union started life as a worthwhile project, but it was based on a fundamental contradiction. It was not the USA, a union of states, but a union of nations. The technocratic elite that gained control of the European Union wanted – needed – to think of themselves as above the populations. They saw themselves as knowing better than the proles. This was not, of course, a recipe for social harmony.

The crux of the malaise that currently pervades both America and Europe is that the governments have effectively lost touch with the people they are supposed to rule. They increasingly see themselves as the natural rulers of the world, issuing orders that suit their interests (because they can no longer comprehend that not everyone shares their interests) and cracking down on dissent (however expressed). The elites have not wholly been wrong – this has to be acknowledged from the start – but they have not always been right either. And, when they have made obvious mistakes, they have declined to learn anything from their experiences. One might even say that they have not paid a price for their mistakes.

This creates a problem where the benefits of controversial issues – from immigration and open borders to currency integration, trade treaties, and globalisation – have not been spread evenly. One may argue – many do – that immigration (or any of the other issues I mentioned) has been good for Britain (and America and Europe) and this may actually be true. However, the people who have reaped the benefits are not the people who have had to cope with the disadvantages. It came as no surprise to me that London was strongly for Remain, in the BREXIT referendum, while the parts of the country that had lost out (or saw themselves as losing out) voted for Leave. Why should they support something that had not, or they thought had not, benefited them?

A smart government(s) might have acknowledged this point well before the situation reached boiling point. Instead, governments and politicians decided that it was better to use propaganda than try to come to grips with a problem they had largely caused. Anyone who disagreed was smeared as a racist or a sexist or a bigot or … well, a deplorable. Careers were destroyed, lives were ruined … people became scared to speak out.

Let me use a silly example and move on from there. There were essentially two groups that criticised The Last Jedi. One group felt that it was a poorly conceived, poorly written and poorly directed movie that laughed in the face of previous canon (and expanded universe/legends canon). They had legitimate complaints. The other group was composed of misogynists and racists. Their complaints were not legitimate. The response from the film’s producers and supporters, however, was to smear the first group with the second. The bad apples in fandom were used to attack the rest of fandom.

The Last Jedi is just a movie. Fundamentally, it doesn’t matter what happens to Star Wars. But what happens when this approach is taken to … well, everything? Over the last few years, we have found out. It isn’t pretty.

This created a situation that George Orwell predicted in 1984:

The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command. His heart sank as he thought of the enormous power arrayed against him, the ease with which any Party intellectual would overthrow him in debate, the subtle arguments which he would not be able to understand, much less answer. And yet he was in the right! They were wrong and he was right. The obvious, the silly, and the true had got to be defended.”

And so we come to the core of the problem.

Western society’s great advantage was not racial, but social. Western society attempted to practice the Rule of Law, rather than the Rule of Force. There was a belief, sometimes tragically misplaced, that no one was above the law. It didn’t matter who you were, or what you were. You were not above the law. This relied upon a high level of social trust, which was rooted in a belief that no one could act like a robber baron with impunity. It is no coincidence that Britain’s rise to global power coincided with the rise of a high-trust society, where contracts were honoured, money could be lent and recovered and the law was supreme.

For a high-trust society to work, it had to maintain both the appearance of fairness and the power of the law. On one hand, the people who were guilty had to be proven guilty (the state had to prove their guilt, not the accused their innocence); on the other, the police and courts had to have the ability and the will to bring the guilty to justice. Deterrence, as always, is based on both the ability to do something and the will to do it. The problem was that both the appearance of fairness and the power of the law were beginning to slip, in so many different ways.

I could name dozens of ways in which this is corroding society. I’ll settle for a handful of the most dangerous. The media (particularly in America) largely abandoned the concept of equal and unbiased reporting, choosing to become – as one cynic put it – Democratic Party operatives with by-lines. The rise of identity politics ensured that people were irreversibly separated, with solid lines drawn between one ‘identity’ and the next. Multiculturalism, Affirmative Action and other well-intentioned attempts to address social inequality only made them worse. And the rise of mob cultures on the internet – in which someone can be found guilty and punished a long time before they can have a fair trial – is threatening to tear us apart. The rules don’t just keep changing, although that is bad enough. Now, someone can be retroactively punished for something that was innocuous at the time, but social death now. People are scared, people are resentful … people no longer trust. The bonds that hold society together are fraying.

Humans are intensely tribal creatures. At base, people see the world as ‘us’ versus ‘them.’ We see ‘us’ as a group made up of individuals, because we are sensitive to nuance within our group, and ‘them’ as one vast hive mind. Cold logic, of course, will tell us that that isn’t so. But when emotions are running high, cold logic has little to do with it. Why should we do anything to help one of ‘them’ when there is no guarantee it won’t come back to bite us?

The Rule of Law helps us to overcome such problems. But what happens when the Rule of Law no longer exists? And what happens when our leaders keep pretending that everything is normal? What happens when the Emperor has no clothes?

There is a bitter sense of betrayal spreading through society. Large numbers of people feel that they have been betrayed by their governments, their media, their churches, their … everything their ancestors had once trusted. They feel that either us wins or they win. It doesn’t matter if you think they are wrong to feel this way. The point is that they do feel this way. And so they turn to political outsiders because there is nowhere else to go. People like Donald Trump and Nigel Farage – even Milo Yiannopoulos – are not the cause of society’s problems, but symptoms. Trump’s supporters cling to him despite his flaws, not because of them – and they do that because Trump tapped into a growing feeling that traditional politics and political elites had failed. Leave won the BREXIT vote because the EU showed no willingness to learn from its own mistakes. And, even now, the EU has learnt nothing from the endless string of disasters plaguing Europe.

I wish I felt better about the future. I wish I thought that a combination of illness and depression had destroyed my confidence in the coming years. But it’s hard to have faith when society seems to have forgotten hard-earned lessons from the last four hundred years, when society seems intent on stamping out the study of history (warts and all) and plunging forward heedless of what might befall. I think we will pay a high price for our recklessness.

Maybe I’m wrong. I hope I am wrong.

Happy New Year! <grin> (And yes, I am perfectly aware of the irony of wishing everyone a happy new year after everything I’ve said … <bigger grin>)

Christopher G. Nuttall

Edinburgh, New Year, 2018/9

19 Responses to “2018 – A Personal and Political Reflection”

  1. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard December 31, 2018 at 7:18 pm #

    Hey! At least you’re not going to turn 65 next year! 👿

    Going serious, I don’t really believe that age brings wisdom but it can give you a “Been There Done That” attitude.

    Sarah Hoyt has been doing a series of “SF Predictions That Haven’t Happened” over on AccordingToHoyt.

    I find them interesting because I remember all of the “Predictions Of Doom” I’ve heard over the years including the talk about Reagan going to start a Nuclear War. I think about the predictions about Reagan when I hear the garbage about Trump.

    So yes, I see what you’re talking about for the coming year and there are reasons to be concerned, but we’ve seen dark times coming before and either the dark times didn’t come or we survived the dark times.

    So concentrate on Getting Better and Don’t Let Things Get You Down! 😀

    • Bret Wallach January 2, 2019 at 4:05 am #

      I agree.

      The world has been on the edge of doom ever since … well, ever!

      In grade school (early 1960s) we had “air raid” drills where we practiced hiding under our desks or heading to various rooms because the Russians were gonna nuke us! Didn’t happen.

      In late 1960s, the communists were gonna take over and enslave us all (because a couple 2-bit banana republics were taken over by the communists). Didn’t happen.

      In the 1970s, a president resigned in disgrace, we had one of our few losses in a war (Viet Nam), we had runaway stagflation, and ever our president (Carter) was sure our best days were behind us. Didn’t happen.

      In the 1980s, insane Ronald Reagan was gonna destroy the economy and also start World War III. Didn’t happen.

      In the 1990s, we impeached a President (Clinton) and the country was gonna fall apart. Didn’t happen.

      In the 2000s, al Qaeda slammed aircraft in the World Trade Center Towers knocking them down which was gonna show the U.S. was just a paper tiger to be blown away on the wind by an emerging Muslim caliphate. Didn’t happen.

      In the 2010s, we elected a crude and erratic president who’s worse than Hitler (depending who you ask) and is going to bring global catastrophes and the end of civilization. Didn’t happen (well, won’t happen since we’re not through his term yet).

      Here’s the deal. We’ve always had impending doom. Also, we’ve never, in my lifetime, had a trust society. Anybody who paints that picture is simply mistaken in my opinion. We’ve always hated each other, we’ve always been tribal, and we will always hate each other.

      But it doesn’t matter. In the end, we’ll muddle through and then still continue to be convinced impending doom is upon us. We’re DOOMED! DOOMED I tell you, DOOOOOOOOMED! 🙂

      Happy New Year

  2. Billy December 31, 2018 at 9:26 pm #

    Something to think about

    Anything Hillary did was brushed away , no matter what it was.

    Everything Trump did or might do , no matter what it is/was is looked at as horrific.

    Trump drinks a glass of water.

    Outrage that he did or did not have ice in that water.
    Outrage that it was tap water. Outrage that it was not tap water.
    Outrage that it was water. Outrage that he drank the whole glass.
    Outrage that he drank half the glass . And on and on into infinity.

    And that was just the glass of water.

    And it goes on from there.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard December 31, 2018 at 10:18 pm #

      Trump walks on water.

      “Trump can’t swim”. 😈

    • Sprout January 1, 2019 at 4:21 pm #

      This is just a matter of the political divide. Obama and hillary, like trump were all criticized the same way and just as inanely by their respective oppositions and their faults were ignored by their side like Trump’s are because in truth people don’t really care about that stuff.
      Or more likely it’s not in their interest to care about that stuff if it is disadvantageous for them to do so.

      People are also divided into media bubbles of different realities and yada, yada.

  3. Robert Stewart December 31, 2018 at 10:04 pm #

    Christopher, I was following your posts about your medical difficulties with alarm and sadness. It was clear that you were struggling with a load that left little energy for your writing. Your productivity was still very high by normal measure, and I hoped that you were reconciled to accept your best as good enough. Even if it wasn’t quite what you’d expected.

    This post, however, makes me a lot more optimistic about your recovery. You seem to have regained most of the momentum that the disease had taken from you. I first discovered your books with the Empire’s Corps series. I particularly liked Professor Leo Caesius’s acerbic chapter introductions. Your empire was a recognizable continuation of present trends, and a useful warning to those who cared. Your remarks above regarding “1984” are on target. But Orwell didn’t get it all right. The intentional injection of tribalism into U. S. politics demonstrates that Orwell was a Utopian even in the depths of his pessimism. His world was run by a thoroughly competent set of equality-of-misery tyrants who didn’t bother to play such primitive games. Not so in the real world! Tribalism is very useful if you need to stir up a large mob based on imaginary grievances. All those ‘others’ can be labelled “Hitlers”, and the rest is (some semblance of) history. As you point out, this can even be done to reviewers of films who weren’t sufficiently enthusiastic.

    I never imagined that I’d read a book about magicians, but after the Empire Corps I find myself reading all of you books, and enjoying most of them. I get a little impatient with overly long passage dealing with introspection and the difficulty of making decisions, but the feudal-to-modern theme is interesting.

    I wonder whether you really think Nationalism is the problem today? It seems to me that without a healthy dose of British Nationalism, in both WWI and WWII, the EU authority would have been a reality long before today. And this doesn’t give full credit to England’s historical role in maintaining a balance of power in Europe. But then, the EU bureaucrats in Brussels would have been quite comfortable reporting to Napoleon, so they might not appreciate these aspects of Britain’s contribution to the development of the modern world.

    The logic behind the claim that nationalism is the cause of international tension is a canard foisted on the western fellow-travelers following Barbarosa on June 22, 1941. The USSR was marketed to the ignorant an international movement, a government evolved beyond nationalism. So it was quite useful to characterize the Nazis as nationalists. But both the Third Reich and the Soviet Union sought to dominate the rest of the world. Their words were just different shades of red lipstick on the same breed of pig. Nationalism, when the citizens of a country find the courage to resist tyranny, is the antidote to conquest by force of arms. It doesn’t go the other way.

    • Hanno Frerichs January 1, 2019 at 5:10 pm #

      Welll I will disagree with you on some of your points.

      British Nationalism helped the British to defend their land and root against the Nazis many of whom were very nationalistic germans.

      As many germans saw that it was in their best interest to conquer france once and for all.

      At that time and even today nationalsm helps in unifying a nation.

      But not all problems of today are national in scale Global Problems like Climate change, unfaire global trade, Islamic terror and so on can be hardly solved when every single nation involved looks at it’s own best interest first unwilling to compromise.

      One of the reasons why strongly nationalistic parties in democratic nations who also happen to have oil or coal in excess deny that climate change exist in the first place they have no solution for it.

      Also nationalism is a learned doctrine and not really a natural form of behavior.

      Each human has up to around 150 close personal contacts were he or she really cares about. I don’t even know 0,01% of my fellow countryman I know some of them are really good people while others are real bastards.

      If I met somebody not in my personal ingroup it helps a lot if they speak the same language as I do, englisch is a close second in that regard the same code of law to follow helps as well.

      But we aren’t all that different and the step from small 150 people big tribes to nations of up too 1 billion + people is a lot bigger then the step from caring about a 67 million french or 80 million germans to the whole human population. Of course I will acknowledge that it’s far too early for that

  4. Bob December 31, 2018 at 11:40 pm #

    And a Happy New Year to you as well…even after reading your doom and gloom essay..
    Unfortunately most of which is all too true..
    I am 65..is it too much to hope for a real “Learning Experience” in my lifetime?? I certainly hope not.. I am forever an optimist in such matters..

    My best to you and yours

  5. Hanno Frerichs January 1, 2019 at 4:32 pm #

    Happy and also healthy new year and I hope you get over any of the lingering effects the chemo or the illness caused.

    As usually I agree on some of your political points but not on everything.
    But by and large i come to other conclusions.

    The future is always uncertain and by and large we live a much better life as humanity then ever before.

  6. Anthony Perkins January 1, 2019 at 7:56 pm #

    Have a happy and very healthy new year fella. I don’t 100% agree with all you said but most of it yes. I too have fears for the future. Western culture is rapidly being erased, not just from the world but also from history. History is being rewritten constantly to promote the “multiculturalism” agenda, as if it was always a thing. Most telling is the BBC and their push to replace history with their own narrative. My fears are for my children as they will inherit this vastly absurd world that is being constructed around us without our say so or permission. The EU is a joke and will not last the next 10 years (and that is being generous). There will come a time of choice in this country. Take back our history and heritage or roll over and be erased from history. Wont be long now I reckon.

    Best wishes to your family and a special thanks to Aisha for getting you sorted out. Stay well and safe fella.

  7. none January 2, 2019 at 12:55 am #

    As always its difficult to comprehend what folks go thru. in illness. I hope you find your stride and beat the lymphoma this year. I can tell you from personal experience that you can’t ever give up..no matter what.

    Twelve years ago I was in a bicycle-car wreck, where I was nearly run down by a car running a stop sign, as I avoided the driver, I leaned and hit my brakes. The bike swapped ends front to back on the road, and over my head from the rear as it did a full rotation in 2 dimensions at the same time, throwing me off jamming my head/neck & left hand and wrist into the road contemporaneously, breaking my neck at 2-3 a spinal cord bruise at 3-4, a fully torn rotator cuff in my right arm, a partially torn rotator cuff on my left arm, and a crushed metatarsal in my left hand. Toughest time of my life, as I only missed 8 days. of work while I had 85 appointments with different doctors (I’m sure you know that!). 6 operations in 7 months, one nearly ever 20 to 25 days. A quad at the wreck site my paralysis receded in two days (walking) to 2-3 months as the chore of writing coating trial reports allowed me to write again. My computer skills and keyboard gave me back my eye to hand coordination. At the time I was running a high speed coating R&D line and helping build capital equipment.

    Today folks look at me and don’t understand the extent of those injuries I had, or the chronic pain I have now – after my awkward steps getting out of bed, or walking down tall stairs – otherwise I LOOK normal.

    On all things political, I’m a deplorable..I chose Trump; since we’ve been played for years by politicians., and disappointed by elites who “know what to do” better than we proles. Like HELL. Consider the Clintons and the Boys on the Track..I have friends who are investigating those details..who knows if justice is ever served there. Little Rock PD has officers that know the absolute truth, just w/o the proof.

    I feel that there a reason Trump won, its esoteric, but I’m with him no matter what. He makes promises and keeps them, and he’s the hardest working President we have ever had what have we got to lose..a national identity with idiots like the democrats throw at us, or a generation who never grew up in the threat and fear of nuclear immolation, or frankly the faith of our fathers? God used Nebuchadnezzar to teach lessons, and its my sincere belief he uses those he chose in his plan.

    In my case my faith got me through the worst. I was born in a family of faith, educated an agnostic as a scientist, who found that in the end you at find a bottom, at that moment (1987 for me) God was still there as my return felt supernatural.I challenged God to prove he was there; and opened my bible for the first time in 18 years and put my finger on Romans 5:3. I was struck to the core.

    3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
    6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

    For me return to faith in the late 80’s laid the foundation for how I handled that wreck. Like you I found my own soulmate, and now for 30 years we’ve faced everything life can throw at us and won.So NEVER give up and know that prayers are with you. I’ve enjoyed reading though your catalog; and hope we have the chance to continue for years.

    Best Wishes in 2019 and beyond…and Prayers from Broken Arrow OK.

  8. Fleeced January 2, 2019 at 5:53 am #

    Some good insights, here. I believe that the trust-respect balance is out of whack. Trust is given, respect is earned – at least, that’s the way it should be. Cultures which are lacking in trust are those that demand respect. There are cultures which demand respect up-front – they’re the one’s in which you have to doff your caps and bow and scrape to show deference. Not much trust, there.

    It appears to me that the rise of identity politics has gone hand-in-hand with offence culture, and that this causes one to demand respect ahead of trust. It’s possible, I suppose, that it occurred the other way around – that trust was lost first, and this is a response to it – but they seem linked in any case.

    As for the online mobbing, this is something I call “tyranny of the flash-mob”. The value of western democracy is that it was a liberal democracy – with an individual’s rights protected against the majority (what John Stuart Mill would call tyranny of the mob). The Internet has given rise to a form of direct democracy, but it lacks that safeguard against mobbing individuals. I’m afraid I’m at a loss as to how to address that.

    Best of health to you in 2019, Christopher. (I confess, I have a vested interest in your well-being, as I want to keep reading your work.)

  9. Anarchymedes January 2, 2019 at 8:55 am #

    ‘Western society attempted to practice the Rule of Law, rather than the Rule of Force.’

    And what is law? Convince me that it’s not just another weapon, available to those who lack skills and courage to wield the more traditional ones. Convince me that a tangle of twisted, contradictory laws, where it’s simply impossible to obey them all, does not exist specifically to facilitate scapegoating. That is, when people just don’t like you, for whatever reason, everyone might be guilty, but you’ll be the one caught—and afterwards, cry all you like about ‘justice’ and ‘fair go.’
    Let’s face it: the Western society has been, and still is practicing the Rule of Money. That’s why China will win every confrontation with the US: without its slave force, a (beloved) iPad will cost about $12,000. That’s why Putin will, at any time, walk into Europe and annex whatever country he wishes: when the 60-something percents of the ‘open society’s’ gas come from Russia, all it will do is huff, puff, and—back off. Get pragmatic. Practical.
    Our society has ever been pretending to be better than it is—and even now, when the Internet has made it harder, some elements of it continue to do so. The hypocrisy of it is infuriating.
    Besides, the enemy takes note of it. Check this out, for example: a Chinese general (as good as) laughs at America’s cowardice here.
    For all my hatred of Trump, it’s better to be honestly bad than hypocritically good. Besides, just like a supervolcano sooner or later explodes (and the later it happens the more disastrous the consequences) so the true feelings, good and bad, sooner or later assert themselves: maybe, there is no point to pretend not to hate what one hates.

  10. Puffin Muffin January 2, 2019 at 1:26 pm #

    Best new year wishes for a speedy recovery

  11. Mike Brooks January 3, 2019 at 4:27 am #

    Chrisopher, no one who writes like you do has reason to fear for the future. Your stories are filled with human warmth, love, and good conquering evil. They Biblical (as in Mathew’s Sermon On The Mount) in their breath and outlook. I am 71 and facing surgery for three broken vertebrae in my neck that has left me paralyzed on the left side. Those injuries were gotten for whistleblowing against my employer, who was selling medical records of employees and their family to employers and banks. I paid a terrible price for trying to do right, but I would do it again.I can laugh and enjoy friends and every lmoment of life, while those executives and their powerful political friends live in fear of discovery. Most people are good and try to live good lives. Sure, there are evil people, people hurt others for money and power, and they often get away it. All we can do is try to live and act using them as examples of how we ought not be. Do what is right, let the consequence follow.

  12. Bewildered January 3, 2019 at 7:17 am #

    One point this piece seems to overlook is identity guilt – that people by virtue of their race\religion\gender or other fundamental even immutable part of their identity are guilty and merit punishment. Conservatives don’t believe this, but then they don’t control academia, the MSM etc.With regressives relying on the courts to turn their beliefs into precedent the legitimacy of the law is fraying.

  13. JFerengi January 4, 2019 at 1:26 am #

    Chris, well said about people forgetting history. There is no shortage of ignorance and shortsightedness. [sigh], Get well, we can all survive waiting for your new books.

  14. Billy January 4, 2019 at 7:58 pm #

    One Freedom we have in the USA that must be something only the USA has at least to this degree is the Freedom of Speech .

    If I am wrong I must be missing something.

    I design (As a side thing) Tshirt / etc designs

    And I can make all kinds of Designs in the USA – Using Free Speech – As long as they are not Trademarked etc.

    So I was wanting to branch out and make some designs for other countries – Political and what not.

    I do searches on Google for the Free Speech laws on * So Called Free Countries.

    You can be arrested and fined heavy amounts if someone does not like your Design or is offended.

    That is NOT Free Speech.

    Here in the USA I could make a design in the * I Love Trump category and also(At the same time) the * I Hate Trump category. (And the same on about any Position, Politician, Whatever)

    Then I try to check out what is in (Using Google) France/England/Other so called free countries etc etc and etc

    There is nothing. What little there is has been copied from the USA .

    A good example is the recent French Yellow Jacket protests. The * Only * thing they have is those Yellow Jackets that the French government forces everyone to have .

    You don’t see Tshirts saying anything about the protests because the french government would arrest the designer and levie heavy fines etc etc etc.

    That is NOT Free Speech at least not what it means here in the USA.

    Just something interesting that I have figured out.

    If I am wrong then let me know as I was hoping to branch out in making Designs for other countries besides the USA (Political/Politicians/ etc)

    Like I said as far as I can tell it would be much much safer to stick to USA Designing .

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