My Heroes Have Always Been Evil Geniuses!

megalomaniacs

I know it is strange.  Most young men when I was growing up had cowboys as heroes, particularly the ones who wore white hats.  Men like Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger were the heroes to an entire generation of young baby boomers.

My heroes have always been cowboys
And they still are, it seems
Sadly, in search of, and one step in back of
Themselves and their slow movin’ dreams — Willie Nelson

vetta pse

I guess I was always different because I liked the guys with the black hats.  They seemed to have more fun and less inhibitions.  You never saw the good guys kiss the girls, but the bad guys thought nothing about kissing them.  Bad guys were also early into bondage (think of all the women tied up on railroad tracks) which was taboo for good people back in the forties and fifties.  In fact, until 50 Shades of Grey, bondage still had a sort of naughty ring to it.

ming-the-merciless-tom-carltonMy first real hero was Ming the Merciless.  He had all the primary characteristics of an evil genius.  He was a megalomaniac who wanted to rule the world.  He was always smarter than Flash Gordon.  He had dozens of minions who followed his every order.  He obeyed no rules except his own.  And finally, he lusted after Dale Arden who was a pretty hot babe for the time.  Dale had wonderful blond curls, a great figure and was into bare midriff before it became popular in the 90’s.  Flash was a wimp when it came to Dale but Ming the Merciless knew what he wanted and really went after it.  I suppose tying women up today would not be proper but if you are an evil genius it is simply part of the expectations.

Ming the Merciless: “Flash, you stand in my way of my ruling the universe.  Not only that, but I want Dale for my bride and queen.  If you will give her to me, I will make you ruler of a galaxy of your own.  You can have more riches and power than you have ever dreamed possible.  If you don’t give her to me, I will destroy you, your mom and dad and all your sisters and brothers.  I will hypnotize Dale into loving me anyway and I will take over the earth and turn the earthlings into cockroaches and then step on them all.”

fu-manchuMy second Hero was Dr. Fu Manchu.  A character created by the writer Sax Rohmer.  Fu was as evil as they came.  He was a brilliant megalomaniac.  He obeyed no rules or laws except his own.  He was alleged to hold doctorates from four Western universities.  Unlike the wimpy college professors who one associates with a Ph.D. degree, there was nothing wimpy about Dr. Fu Manchu.  He would not hesitate to murder anyone who got in his way.  In the 1932 film, The Mask of Fu Manchu, Fu tells an assembled group of his minions that they must “kill the white men and take their women.”  Evil geniuses have a knack for thinking big and ignoring the normal bonds of propriety and civility.

Dr. Fu Manchu: “I hate Western imperialists.  I will drive them all from the face of the earth.  Together with my supporters, I will take over all of Europe and the United States.  I will have my pick of White blond women who I will make part of my harem.  I will destroy the capitalists and take over all the gold in Fort Knox and all the diamonds in the DeBeers Diamond mines.  If you Sir Denis Nayland Smith try to stand in my way, I will boil your friend Dr. Petri in oil very slowly and feed him to my pet crocodiles.  I will take your sister and put her in my harem.  I will spit on your mother’s grave.”  If you join me, I will give you your own harem.”

A few years after I ran out of Fu Manchu stories, I discovered my third hero.  He was none other than another brilliant Ph.D. named Professor Moriarty.  He was the arch nemesis of the world-famous detective Sherlock Holmes.  Dr. Moriaty was a genius with pretentions for ruling a large swath of the world.  Moriarty wanted to be the head of a vast criminal enterprise that would control all illegal underworld activities.

professor_moriarty_by_borbel-d2rstoyAs is usual with evil geniuses, Moriarty was always one step ahead of Sherlock.  Perhaps because it was still the Victorian age, Moriarty did not have much to do with lusting after women.  There was no kidnapping, tying women up or forced kissing in any of the Moriarty tales.  However, Sherlock was not much better in the womanizing category and seemed to be a confirmed bachelor.  His main relationship with a woman was with his housekeeper Mrs. Hudson which always stayed platonic.

Professor Moriarty: “Sherlock, you are one big pain in the ass.  You can’t outsmart me because your brain is too addled with cocaine.  I have hundreds of willing crooks who will help me to defeat you every time.  Why don’t you just take your friend Dr. Watson and spend more time playing your violin.  All, I want is to control the entire British underworld and you keep interfering with my plans.  I am warning you for the last time Sherlock, keep out of my affairs or I will eliminate your housekeeper Mrs. Hudson so that you and Watson will have to do your own cleaning and cooking.”

My next hero was from the Marvel Comic book universe and his name was Dr. Victor victor von doomVon Doom.  You must love someone with a name like that.  Dr. Doom was evil and ruthless and a certified genius.  He had many gadgets and inventions that enabled him to defeat an entire pantheon of superheroes.  When it came to bad, he took a back seat to no one.  Imagine, someone who would let his childhood sweetheart be savagely sacrificed so that he could gain the power to rule the world.  Yes, like most other evil geniuses, Dr. Doom was also a megalomaniac who wanted to rule the world.

Dr. Victor Von Doom: “Dr. Strange, you have thwarted me for the last time.  I am banishing you into the netherworld of demons and monsters from which you will never return.  Before I do, I want you to watch as I destroy all the other superheroes in the Marvel universe.  I will be ruler of the entire planet and there will be no one left to stop me.  I will make all the gypsies in Rumania into the leaders of all the countries on earth and everyone will have to learn how to play the violin and the accordion.”

a villains coloring bookI have not had time to describe all the evil geniuses whom I have loved and admired.  I have given you only a few of the ones who have punctuated my life.  I do not have the space to do justice (sic) to some of my other heroes such as Lex Luther, the Kingpin, The Joker, Green Goblin and of course Sauron.  By the way, recently we had a female megalomaniac out to destroy the world.  It was quite refreshing to see how Hela kicked Thor’s butt from one end of Asgard to the other.  But to bring you up to the present, I have now found perhaps the most evil genius in history.  He has all the truly great characteristics of evilness.  He is also a genius.

How do I know he is evil?  He grabs women by the pussies.  He incites violence.  He belittles disabled people.  He lies continuously.  He cheats on his taxes and cheats on just about anything he purchases.  He treats his minions with scorn and he has scores of servants willing to do his bidding.  His followers are willing to lie and cover up anything he does wrong.

trump

How do I know he is a genius?  That is easy.  The simple answer is because he says so.  But the real proof is in the mountains of money he has made.  He has property all over the world.  He owns humongous golf courses and houses.  He has plans to build a big wall to keep out all the immigrants who want to come to the United States to start a better life.  He is also smart enough to get congress to do whatever he wants.

destroying the world

Finally, we know that a chief characteristic of an evil genius is that they must also be a megalomaniac.  Webster’s defines a megalomania as:

1: a mania for great or grandiose performance

  • an outburst of wildly extravagant commercial megalomania

2: a delusional mental illness that is marked by feelings of     personal omnipotence and grandeur

I think you can easily see that Donald Trump is also a megalomaniac.  His rallies are key examples of the need for grandiose performances.  There is little question that he feels that he is omnipotent and can do anything he wants to do.  For example, he said:

“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

He has also commented that he can get anything he wanted from a woman because he was a star:

“I just start kissing them.  It’s like a magnet.  Just kiss.  I don’t even wait.  And when you’re a star, they let you do it.  You can do anything.  Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”

Evil geniuses are real studs when it comes to women.  I never had that kind of success with women when I was growing up but then I was never terribly evil, megalomaniacal or even a genius.

jean-rogers-as-dale-arden-flash-gordon-serial-1936-2008-david-lee-guss

I guess I will just have to continue living vicariously through my heroes or at least until I get bitten by a spider or hit with some type of gamma ray and acquire super powers.  You better watch out if I do.  I will grab your mother, sister and wife by the pussy, maybe even your grandmother, after I take over the universe of course.

Time for Questions:

Who is your favorite evil genius?  What do you admire about them?  How come we have so few women evil geniuses?  Did Hillary qualify for one?  Who can you think of that you admire?  Why?  What is it about evil geniuses that seems to attract people?  Why do they always get the best parts in the movies?

Life is just beginning.

With the proper training, I could’ve been an evil genius.”  —  George Carlin

 

 

 

 

 

A Conversation between Satan and God

god-and-satan

Satan and God were sitting on a rock one day having a discussion about the human race.

Satan said to “God, I need some more souls in hell.  I think we have played this game with humanity for long enough.  Let’s end it and start a new game.”

God said:  “Well, I could be talked into that.  How would you suggest we end it?

Satan:  “We can divide up the human race.  You take the good ones and I will take the bad ones.”

God:  “Who would you include among the ‘bad’ ones?”

Satan:  “I will take all the people who never promoted peace and who sowed the seeds of hate and bigotry among humanity.”

God:  “They are all you want?”

Satan:  “Well, I would also like all the greedy ones who never did anything to help anyone else but who collected as much wealth as they could and would not share it with anyone else.”

God:  “Does this include all the greedy people who were against taxes to help the poor and needy?”

Satan:  “Of course.”

God:  “That’s not fair.  There would hardly be anyone left for me.”

Satan:  “Do you remember a long time ago when you gave Lot the deal with finding ten good people and you would save the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah from your wrath.  Your angels could not find even ten people for you to spare.  That was a good day for me.”

God:  “You have had many good days since we started this game.  Do you think perhaps it’s all your fault?  You are constantly sowing greed and hate.”

Satan:  “Guilty as charged but do you remember the Parable of the Seeds?  Some fell on good soil and grew and some fell on bad soil and did not grow.  My efforts would be fruitless were not humans so ripe for plucking and beguiling.”

God:  “Still, sometimes, I think you have been overzealous.  I gave humans free will when I created them and this has come back to bias our game.”

Satan:  “Please, now is not the time for hindsight.  I warned you about this when you created them but you were ever the optimist.”

hell_lavapitSatan:  “Do you want to concede and I will just take them all down to Hell?”

God:  “Do you have no mercy and compassion in you someplace?

Satan:  “You created me and now you extol me to be compassionate and merciful.  Those are traits best left for you and your saints.  I have no heart or soul so how can I care about anything much less human beings.”

God:  “Would you like to start over.  I can always recreate you.”

Satan:  “Thanks, but I am fine.  I like myself just the way I am.  I see no need for pity, love, kindness, or any of the other traits that you gave to humans.  Much good it has done them.”

godGod:  “The interesting thing about humans is not their stupidity and evilness.  It’s the surprising amount of love that they can sometimes show for others.  I am ever the optimist.  That is my role, to be the Eternal Optimist.  I have had hopes since the first cave men and since Moses and Socrates and Jesus and Mohammed and Gandhi and King and Mandela that humans have a spark in them.  A spark that when ignited can change themselves and the world into something beautiful.  Something that is so beautiful, it is even beyond anything I might have created.”

Satan:  “Yes, and then they turn right around and burn it down again.”  Hardly a day goes by on earth, when there is not some riot or war or holocaust or massacre or murder.”

God:  “It seesaws back and forth.  For over 100,000 years now, we have played this game and just when I think, I might win, someone or something evil seems to possess humans that I would never have thought of.”

Satan:  “Right, and you would like to blame me for it, but you gave them free will.”

God:  “The game would have been too predictable without free will.”

Satan:  “You keep hoping they will believe in you someday.  How many times have we had this discussion and yet we keep playing this game.”

God:  “Would you deny me the chance to win.”

chess-for-humanity-1Satan:  “You know I don’t care one way or the other.  I have no feelings to be hurt.  I cannot gloat or feel any satisfaction.  Whenever, a new soul comes down to Hell, it is no sense of pride or satisfaction to me.  These humans seem to mistake my logic and justice for evil.  I am the parent who dispenses the discipline and they see me as the mean and cruel one.”

Satan:  “From a purely logical viewpoint, I do not know why you subject yourself to this.  I see your pain and heartache whenever you lose one to me.  Why go on like this?  It will never be any different.  I get them for a thousand or so years and then I send their cleansed souls back to earth and in a short time they are back down again to Hell.”

God:  “I have no limits to my forgiveness.  They pray to me regularly for forgiveness and I forgive them.”

Satan:  “Yes, but even before they ask for forgiveness, they ask for their daily bread.  It is the only thing they can think about, eating and drinking and sex.”

God:  “You forget the good ones.  The mothers that devote their lives to their children.  The soldiers that forfeit their lives on the battlefields.  The fathers that work two jobs to support their families.  The martyrs who give their lives for their faith.  The blessed who are humble.  The peacemakers who face scorn and ridicule to end war.  The charitable who give the shirt off their backs to help those in need.”

Satan:  “Yes, and for every good one, there are ten evil ones.  That is why I want to end this farce.  How many souls must I take down to Hell, before you concede that humans are hopeless?”

God:  “Perhaps if I send another prophet or messiah to spread my message, we could turn the game around?”

Satan:  “You have sent dozens of prophets and many messiahs and it has made no difference.  They end up scorning or murdering your prophets and messiahs.  They would not follow your message if they could find the tablets that you etched in stone and gave to Moses.”

God:  “I don’t want to win for my sake.  I fight for love and peace and justice and beauty.  These are the things that bring color to the universe.  Without these, you have a bland shade of grey.  You have a sterile meaningless bunch of rocks.  You have never understood this because you see everything through pure logic and no emotions.”

Satan:  “When you created me, you thought that such a being as I am would be superior to one that could be swayed by emotions and feelings.  Now you criticize me for doing my job?”

God:  “I did not realize how monotonous and tedious the universe would be without feelings.”

Satan:  “It does not seem like you can have it both ways.  You want to create a world without evil and based on compassion and love and yet you give humans the ingredients that foment hatred and bigotry.”

God:  “Do you not think we have made any progress since the first humans were created?  I have infinite patience.  We can play the game for eons but I will win someday.”

Satan:  “And is it worth it?  How much pain and misery and suffering must you endure dealing with these humans?”

God:  “True, they have tried my patience at times.  But just when I might be willing to concede to you, I see justice and love blossoming some place and it makes the battle worth winning.  As their creator, I cannot turn my back on these humans.  There is no limit to my forgiveness.  I am not driven by logic as you are.  I am the mother who cannot give up on her children regardless of how many times they make mistakes.”

satan-imageSatan:  “But they never learn. They are shortsighted, petty, vindictive and greedy.  Do you really think they care about your teachings or precious commitment to love and peace?  They would rather fight wars and dominate others.  They even fight wars in your name.  Their religions scream for violence over other religions.  Their leaders preach victory over other nations.  Their minion’s rape and pillage in the name of some esoteric ideology.  They all believe they are superior to each other.  They send their own children to die in wars of so called freedom and liberation.  They abuse and murder their own spouses at alarming rates.  They teach their offspring at an early age to be intolerant of other races.  And they pray in your name for the power to be successful in all of these efforts.  They invoke prayers to you before murdering millions.  How can you listen to these prayers and want to help these hypocrites.”

God:  “Being in charge of Hell does not help you to see any positives in the universe.  You have a very difficult job.”

Satan:  “We make a good team.  You, the everlasting optimist, full of hope and love.  Me, the ultimate logician, ever ready to exact justice for evil done.”

Satan:  “They will destroy themselves anyway and then what.  Did you know that the earth was warming up at an alarming rate?”

God:  “Of course.”

Satan:  “It is not your doing, right?”

God:  “No, I have nothing to do with it.”

Satan:  “And yet they blame you for it.  The last thing in the world they want to admit is that it might be their fault.  That all of their pollution, oil burning, fossil fuel burning and carbon emissions is changing their climate.  They deny any responsibility for it.  I thought they would destroy the world with nuclear weapons, but they somehow avoided doing that.  Now, they are working to destroy it by overheating it.  I don’t think it will be long before the game is over.”

gods-voice-vs-satans-voiceGod:  “You count them out too fast.  The clock was close to 12 with nuclear weapons but as you noted, they carefully avoided destroying themselves.  They are often very shortsighted and many of them will never be long-term thinkers.  However, there are enough who care and who are passionate enough about others to help save humanity.  I can’t help being filled with astonishment at the love that humans frequently have for each other.”

Satan:  “Yes, but it always seems to entail some crisis to bring it out.”

God:  “That is true.  But it shows that there is hope.  And even if there is only 1 human being still alive who cares about others, that is enough for me.  The game will go on.”

Satan:  “Well, how about a cap of another 10,000 years. I am tired of being the gatekeeper of Hell and punishing evil and wrongdoers.  I do not have your patience.”

God:  “Done, we will give humanity another 10,000 years and see how they are doing then.”

Satan:  “I have a feeling we will be having this same conversation in another 10,000 years.”

Time for Questions:

What would you like to tell God if you could?  Do you believe in God?  Why or why not?  Does the concept of God make a difference in the world?  Why? For better or worse?

Life is just beginning.

“Satan, on the contrary, is thin, ascetic and a fanatical devotee of logic.  He reads Machiavelli, Ignatius of Loyola, Marx and Hegel; he is cold and unmerciful to mankind, out of a kind of mathematical mercifulness.  He is damned always to do that which is most repugnant to him: to become a slaughterer, in order to abolish slaughtering, to sacrifice lambs so that no more lambs may be slaughtered, to whip people with knouts so that they may learn not to let themselves be whipped, to strip himself of every scruple in the name of a higher scrupulousness, and to challenge the hatred of mankind because of his love for it–an abstract and geometric love.”
― Arthur KoestlerDarkness at Noon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bigots, Liars and Right Wing Radio Talk Show Hosts

There is a perfidious odoriferous evil in this country that is labeled as Radio Talk Show Hosts.”  This panoply of would be patriots and dispensers of sage wisdom includes such infamous names as Michael Savage, Laura Ingraham, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Glen Beck, Bill O’Reilly and most infamous of all Rush Limbaugh.  Each of these commentators is supported by millions of naive and gullible people, who listen, believe and follow the guidance and supposed advice of these slick Goebbels like hucksters.  goebbelsHucksters who purport to share truth, knowledge and insight on the everyday happenings of politics and society.  Only in America, with our First Amendment rights would such liars and hypocrites be tolerated.  Ironically, these slanderers are 100 percent supportive of the Second Amendment but have mixed tolerance for the First Amendment.  They love the First Amendment when it protects their right to lie, exaggerate, falsify and spread vicious innuendos (Obama is not an American, Obama is not a Christian, Autism is a fraud, etc.), but they hate it when it supports the rights of others to speak out against injustice and deception.

Let me digress for a moment.  You might be thinking:  “John is labeling and using pejorative terminology to describe these people whom he obviously does not respect, how is this any different from what he is accusing them of doing?”  Good question.  Here is the simple answer.  I am not getting paid or making any money from what I am telling you.  Read this if you want to or not.  It’s not going to put any money in my pocket.  Rush Limbaugh’s annual salary is seventy million dollars.  These radio talk show hosts are making millions of dollars by sowing rancor, discord and disillusionment.  Furthermore I condemn their behavior and I hope to show the key principles that we should all follow when engaged in public discourse of any type.  Principles that I believe would return civility and respect to our government and airwaves.

If the ranting’s of these vicious individuals were strictly entertainment and was recognized as such, I would have no problem.  However, when lies are mistaken for truth, when innuendoes are mistaken for facts and when hyperbole substitutes for civility, we all have a problem.  Too many of these radio talk show hosts are listened to and trusted by millions of Americans.  They use the same tools of propaganda developed by the Nazis to spread “big lies” which are believed by their listeners.  What should a listener be asking and expecting of those who are highly paid to dispense such advice and information?  I think there are three principles which should be in the forefront of any audience’s mind when tuning into a radio talk show host or for that matter any so-called expert or talking head.   Failure to follow these principles results in misinformation, misdirection and all too often a general miscarriage of justice.

  1. Search for facts and truth
  2. Civility and respect for the opposition
  3. Win-win and the Golden Mean.

Before we begin to look at these three principles, just a few of the type of vitriolic and extremist comments made by these talk show hosts will serve to illustrate my points about degrading, hyperbolic and vicious speech.

“The shutdown was so magnificent, run beautifully.  I’m so proud of these Republicans, and that is because they have branded the Republican party as the anti-Obamacare party.” – Ann Coulter

“If homosexuality being inborn is what makes it acceptable, why does racism being inborn not make racism acceptable? … We are born that way. We don’t choose it. So shouldn’t it be acceptable, excuse — this is according to the way the left thinks about things.” – Rush Limbaugh

“My main point remains true, It is an over diagnosed medical condition. In my readings, there is no definitive medical diagnosis for autism.” – Michael Savage

“The government is full of vampires, and they are trying to suck the lifeblood out of the economy.” – Glenn Beck

Sean Hannity claimed that White House science and technology adviser John Holdren “advocated compulsory abortion” and sterilization.  PolitiFact had previously rated a similar claim — made months earlier by Fox News’ Glenn Beck — “pants on fire” false. 

Barbara Espinoza took to her website and boldly admits that she called the president a “monkey,” and then defends the racist statement by noting that, “Unless there has been a takeover of America and free speech is no longer allowed and I can be put to death for making a remark, I refuse to take the fifth.”

Finally, a comment by Ed Schultz that pretty much sums up much of the rhetoric used by the right wing talk show pundits.

“There’s something very ugly and dangerous going on in this country,” Schultz said. “Right wing talk show hosts seem to be amping up racist and reckless rhetoric like never before … the level of racist and violent rhetoric on hard-right wing radio today is off the charts.”

A brief caveat before we look at the three principles I am advocating for public and civil discourse.  I have omitted any recognition of extreme, incendiary, racist or outrageous comments on the part of “left” wing talk show hosts, such as Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, Keith Olbermann, Thom Hartmann and others (See List of progressive talk radio hosts in the United States).  I readily admit my bias is liberal and progressive.  I also admit that I am frequently entertained by the comments of Jon Stewart, Bill Maher and other liberals.  I find them less violent, less inflammatory, less racist and less reactionary than any of the right wing commentators I have noted.  Nevertheless, the rules I am going to discuss apply to them as well.  Whether or not they are right wing or left wing commentators, these principles should apply.  I believe “We the People” should hold commentators to the same standards of dialogue and discourse regardless of political persuasion.  Whether or not you are right leaning or left leaning, let us all expect that people who are paid to elucidate and illuminate the rest of the country, will and must be conservative and cautionary with their rhetoric.

Search for facts and truth:

The first principle for honest discourse is a search for Truth based on facts.  True, facts can be elusive.  For instance, what is the height of Mt. Everest?  What is the population of New York City?  Who is the richest woman in the world?  What movie star is the most popular?  Facts change since the world is not a static entity.  Many things that were once facts are now in the dust bin of antiquity.  The search for truth is a process that relies on facts to confirm decisions that are then judged to be true or false.  For instance, a trial revolves around evidence that either supports a verdict of guilty or not guilty.  The elusiveness of truth is well illustrated by the famous Rashomon story wherein a robber, a bridegroom, a bride and an innocent bystander all give widely differing versions of an alleged rape and murder.  The famous lawyer Clarence Darrow once said that “there is nothing as unreliable as an eye witness.”  Dr. W. E. Deming, the noted quality expert often said that there is nothing in life that can be determined with 100 percent accuracy.  He noted that “it all depends on how you measure something and that all measurement relies on a process.”  One process will reveal one set of metrics or “facts” and another process will reveal another set of metrics and facts.

If facts are indeterminate and truth must be based on facts, is there any truth in the world?  The answer is that truth exists if we think of it as a “range of possibilities.”  For instance, was Jodi Arias guilty or innocent?  The probability is high that she is guilty but not a 100 percent certainty.  Jurors are warned that they must be certain of their verdict beyond a “Reasonable” doubt.  But what is reasonable to one person might be wild conjecture to another.  Can we depend on a written confession?   How many innocent people have been coerced into “false” confessions?  Can we depend on anyone telling the truth?  Confessions often depend on how much the person has to gain or lose by “telling the truth.”  Workers in many organizations quickly learn whether telling the truth is a valued asset or a major liability.

Thus, the search for truth must be an ongoing pursuit.   Richard Feynman, the Nobel Prize winner in physics said that the highest obligation of a scientist is to prove they are wrong.  The search for truth in science is a series of successive approximations.  We learn more, we accumulate more facts, we find more reliable and valid data and our theories of reality become stronger or they are jettisoned in favor of new paradigms that better fit the facts.

Imagine then, if talk show hosts treated the “Truth” as a pursuit of knowledge and not as an absolute reality that belonged to one party or one individual.

Civility and respect for the opposition:

The second principle for civil discourse is Civility.  Unfortunately, every day brings new instances of incivility and a culture of narcissism and self-absorption.  In many cases, we see rampant greed and a total disregard for the welfare of others.   In the worst cases, we see school shootings, murders for money, road rage resulting in violent encounters and a hostile culture where few people feel safe at night on any major city street in the USA.  Do I attribute this to talk show hosts?  Did incivility come first and lead to the selection of such commentators as Michael Savage and Ann Coulter or did the latter talk show hosts contribute to the wide spread increase of disrespect and hostility in our culture?   My guess is it’s a two way street.  There are no doubt many other major factors. However, when you look at the number of people that are tuned into these talk show hosts, you cannot deny the impact that their vitriol and hate has had on those who look to them for advice and inspiration.

I spent over three years regularly listening to the so called “Patriot” radio station when I lived in Minnesota.  Daily diatribes by people like Mike Medved and Hugh Hewitt each trying to outdo Mike Savage in terms of gross invective and vile comments about the presidents, liberals, gays, democrats, college professors, college educated people, women, minorities, disabled and even elderly.  Day after day, hour after hour of endless demeaning, hateful and malicious comments made about anyone who they did not deem sufficiently patriotic by their narrow definition of patriotism.  Time and again I was reminded of Samuel Johnson’s comment that “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

Civility is defined as: “Formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech.”    Civility does not exist in talk radio.  Most of these talk show hosts are abject cowards.  They hide behind their microphones and distance from others to insult and demean those whom they want to attack.  They are bullies of the worst kind, since they will not even come out to face their opponents.   These bigots want to equate patriotism with military service and heroism with serving on the front lines, but look at the record for most of the top bigots.

  • Mike Savage, did not serve
  • Sean Hannity, did not serve
  • Rush Limbaugh, did not serve
  • Bill O’Reilly, did not serve
  • Michael Medved, did not serve
  • Glen Beck, did not serve

I won’t even mention Ann Coulter (Cornell University) or Laura Ingraham (Dartmouth) both of whom are Ivy League graduates and never served a day in their life except as high paid business or legal consultants.

The more cowardly these phony patriots are the more they fly the flags of patriotism, jingoism, chauvinism, racism, xenophobia and intolerance.  Ralph W. Sockman once noted that “The test of courage comes when we are in the minority.  The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.”  These pitiful excuses for humanity neither demonstrate tolerance or courage.  Indeed, they demonstrate the exact opposite.  They are intolerant when they feel they are in the majority and then attack those who are weaker and more defenseless.  When in the minority, they are silent cowards who hide behind the First Amendment, the American Flag and hollow calls to their servile brand of patriotism.

Let the American people start judging politicians, TV hosts and Radio Talk show hosts by their civility and respect for their opponents.  Americans who value respect, politeness and civility need to tune out anyone, right or left who has no respect for others, unless of course, the others have demonstrated time and time again that they have no respect for those who disagree with them.

Win-Win and the Golden Mean

My third principle for civil discourse concerns the Golden Mean and the concept of win-win.  The Golden Mean was a principle first noted by the ancient Greeks to denote the idea that moderation was the guiding principle of a successful and happy State and human existence.

 In philosophy, especially that of Aristotle, the golden mean is the desirable middle between two extremes, one of excess and the other of deficiency.  For example, courage, a virtue, if taken to excess would manifest as recklessness and if deficient as cowardice.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_mean_(philosophy)

The win-win concept first became popular with Steven Covey’s book “The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People.”  Other writers such as Alfie Cohn and Edward De Bono also wrote about the power of the concept and its unique position to make allies out of former enemies.  In a win-win scenario, would be antagonists move from an adversarial negotiation to a problem-solving mode in which the goal is to find an outcome or outcomes that are highly desirable to both parties.  Win-win theory stresses the importance of a joint decision that supersedes even compromise.  Unlike compromise, wherein everyone sacrifices to attain a mutual decision, in win-win, the parties seek to avoid decisions that are less than optimal for either party.  Compromise is always a fallback position but win-lose is not admissible in the set of desired outcomes.

Now imagine for a minute, a group of Republicans and Democrats, or a group of pro-choice and anti-abortion advocates or a group of conservatives and a group of liberals all sitting down to a win-win scenario.  Instead of bargaining, fighting, positioning, game playing and slimy tricks to get better position, the participants sit down in a spirit of cooperation and good will.  Each one knowing that the principle of the Golden Mean entails finding an optimum solution that lies somewhere between the two extremes or perhaps even in a different frame.  Now you can imagine what the Founding Fathers were able to do and why the documents that this country were built on are so magnificent.  As Abraham Lincoln said:

“The true rule, in determining to embrace, or reject any thing, is not whether it have any evil in it; but whether it have more of evil, than of good. There are few things wholly evil, or wholly good.  Almost everything, especially of governmental policy, is an inseparable compound of the two; so that our best judgment of the preponderance between them is continually demanded.”

Conclusion:

I am talking about “EVIL” people here.  The Nazis were evil.  Why, because they sowed hatred, intolerance, injustice, contempt, racism, genocide, murder and destruction.  They used the machinery of democracy to establish a reign of terror like the world had never seen before or since.  Many Americans have asked “Could it happen here.”  Goring said:

“Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.”

The Nazis laughed as they led Germany into destruction and as their propaganda machine convinced millions of innocent Germans that they were protecting Aryan supremacy and the German way of life.  Millions of Americans are being led down the a similar road of hatred and intolerance by these Nazis style commentators who call themselves Radio Talk Show hosts.  Hitler said: “I do not see why man should not be just as cruel as nature.”  Himmler said: “The best political weapon is the weapon of terror. Cruelty commands respect. Men may hate us. But, we don’t ask for their love; only for their fear.”  Talk shows feed on the fear and cruelty that they not only exacerbate but they also create.

In my 67 years on this earth, I have been to Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Catholic, Unitarian, Baptist, Methodist and several non-denominational churches.  I have attended over 30 Jesuit Retreats at Demontreville Retreat Center in Minnesota.  I do not claim to be a great Christian.  I do not claim to turn the other cheek as often as I should.  I do not claim to help my fellow man as often as needed.  What I do claim is that in not one of these houses of worship, have I ever seen Jesus portrayed as a racist or a sower of hatred and intolerance.  In the famous parable of the adulterous woman, Jesus said: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”  In Jesus’s parable of the Good Samaritan, he said “Who is the neighbor to him who fell among the robbers?”  In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said “And why beholds thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but consider not the beam that is in thy own eye?”  Over and over again, Jesus preached love and forgiveness.  Where does Jesus say “Go and preach hate?”  “Go and preach intolerance.”  “Go and preach bigotry.”

Time for Questions:

Has fear blinded too many Americans to the symptoms of bigotry and intolerance and incivility that are symptomatic of many Talk Show Hosts?  Are you going to church on Sunday and applauding Rush Limbaugh on Monday?  Are you silent in the face of hypocrisy, racism, sexism and homophobia?  Do you take a stand on your principles whether you are Christian, Catholic, Muslim or Jewish?  Are you following principle of love and forgiveness or an “Eye for an Eye?”  What can we do to abolish the pervasive malice, hostility and meanness that are symptomatic of Radio Talk Shows today?

Life is just beginning.

 

Happy Days Are Here Again?

happy-days-logo-1I like to think that my writing falls in the category of political and social satire.  I suppose I am giving myself more credit than I deserve since it is not easy to be a good satirist.  My spouse is always saying that my satire often misses the mark.  Nevertheless, I aspire that at least someday my writing can be compared to Mark Twain or perhaps Kurt Vonnegut.  I will have to leave it to my readers or at least posterity to find out if I ever achieve this lofty aspiration.  Who can judge the quality of their own writing without a large degree of prejudice?  (To hear the “Happy Days Are Here Again” song, click here.)

One element that seems typical of good satire (be it Mark Twain or Jon Stewart) is the ability to evoke humor in ones writings and ideas.  To make people laugh at the same time that you are getting them to see the absurdity of their viewpoints or society’s viewpoints.  You can have “dark” satire or “light” satire and in my opinion they form a continuum.  I think of Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut as falling on the darker side of this continuum and Mark Twain and Jon Stewart as falling on the lighter side.

pollyanna-glad-game-quote One of my goals is to keep a balance on my perspectives that helps me to fall more in the middle of this continuum.  I see being repeatedly on the light side as too comical or humorous.  I do not want to be thought of as a comic or entertainer.  I concede that these people can make a difference in the world as one of my early heroes was Lenny Bruce.  I think Lenny was a great comic and a great social satirist.  However, I do not see my nature as capable of embracing a very high degree of humor in some of the evil and stupidity I see in the world.  I have never been very Pollyannish.  I want to stay away from embracing a view of the world that resembles the “Happy Days” syndrome.  All is good, nothing is wrong, everything will be all right.  Just sit back and watch TV.  This attitude can lead to the pitfalls of complacency and neutrality.

6836-do-you-look-at-life-through-rose-coloured-glasses-i-crushedGetting repeatedly too close to the position of “dark” humor on this continuum also has its pitfalls. I think I have lost many friends along the path of life because I have sometimes become too critical and carping on the evils and stupidity of the world.  You start condemning evil and stupidity and before you know it, you are attacking people.  It is easy to start associating individuals with policies, ideas and positions that you loath.  Soon, you are surrounded by former friends who are all stupid and evil.  The final stage in this process is to see nothing but a world that is evil and stupid populated by evil stupid people.  Everyone in the world becomes your enemy.  The exact opposite of Pollyanna becomes your gestalt.

happiness in moderationI do not choose to follow either extreme.  I want to follow the Greek “Golden Mean.”  In ancient Greece the Golden Mean meant to pursue moderation in all things.  I don’t really want to hate all Republicans despite the fact that today I can see little good in the Republican Party.  Nor do I want to love all things associated with the Democratic Party.  In some ways, the Democrats have helped to create the Tea Party and Right-Wing extremists in the Republican Party. Though I doubt many Democrats would either see or confess to their culpability in this matter.  There has always been and there always will be excesses and vices in both parties.  Politicians of either stripe have more in common with each other than they do with the average middle class worker in this country or any country.

death of socrates bookI was really too honest a man to be a politician and live.” —  Socrates (Ancient Greek Philosopher, 470 BC-399 BC)

Things do not seem to have changed much in respect to politics since Socrates was executed for his anti-political beliefs.  Socrates openly expected the youth of Athens to challenge and question authority.  This stance was no more valued in ancient Greece then it is in 21st Century America.

Apocalypse revelationsThe title of my blog this week was meant to be somewhat humorous and somewhat satirical.  Hence the question mark on the end of the title is not an accident.  I know many people who think that the world has never been in a worse state.  One of my ex-friends kept reading Revelations to me and telling me that the world was going to end about a year or so ago.  Our friendship ended but the world did not.  I have other friends who say “Obama has ruined this country.”  Many Americans say that the USA is in decline and that the end days are near.  I don’t understand this negativity.  I understand that much of the world economy is coming out of a bad recession.  I truly see that the world has more problems than anyone can count on two hands.  We have poverty, war, famine, drought, global warming, disease, inequality, injustice, tyranny, evil of all sorts and a great deal of stupidity and ignorance.  Is there a silver lining in this maelstrom of disasters?

good_old_days_specials_magazineSome people believe that if we can only go back to the “good old days” that everything will be all right.  I don’t want to say too much about this option since I think it is a fantasy.  Only in the movies, can you go back in time.  Time marches forward and waits for no one.  Either get on the train or they will bury you where you stand.  We are not going to go back to pre-cellphone days, pre-internet days, pre-abortion days, pre-global warming days, pre-nuclear power days or pre-any other days.  We can only go forward.  We can embrace many of the old values that made our countries great but we must pay them forward.  We must embrace new values and blend the old and the new together in a modern version of the Golden Mean.  This is not an easy task.

I published a book about fifteen years ago that I called “The New Business Values for the 21st Century.”  The book did not become a best seller but it had several good chapters which IMHO have stood the test of time.  The basic idea for this book was based on a model that I called the “Five I Model.”  My mentor Dr. Gary N. McLean told me to always work from a model.  I tempered his advice with the advice of Dr. George Box that “All models are wrong but some are useful.”  My Five I’s included the following:

  1. Informationnew business values
  2. Improvement
  3. Innovation
  4. Inclusion
  5. Incentives

The premise of my book was that new organizations must revolve around these five key elements which I had elevated to the status of values.  I think these same five elements or values also pertain to building a great nation or great country.  I do not want to repeat what was in my book; you may still be able to find it on Amazon or E-Bay if you are interested.  However, one element that I think has significant relevance to this blog today is the 4th Value of Inclusion.

Inclusion is a value that embraces diversity and working together in a win-win fashion rather than working in opposition.  Inclusion abhors a culture or position of divisiveness such as we see in politics today.  In fact, many of the conflicts in the world today are caused by the divisiveness that is the enemy of inclusiveness.  Inclusion is a friend of immigration and not an enemy of immigration.  I have a T-shirt that reads “We need a fair immigration policy and not an anti-immigration policy.”  Too many of our politicians today are preaching a divisiveness that borders on hatred and bigotry.  I do not need to mention names here.  All you have to do is read the newspapers or listen to the TV to see the politicians that are preaching exclusion rather than inclusion.

We cannot go backwards into “happy days.”  We can only go forward.  To do so we must practice the old values that made our nations great alongside of the new values that have become critical to success in the new millennium.  My book addresses at least five of these new values.  Do doubt there are others.  I am not certain of what they are, but I am certain of what they are not.  They are not values that foster:

  • Exclusivity
  • Divisiveness
  • Inequality
  • Anti-intellectualism
  • Anti-immigration
  • Bigotry, racism, sexism or discrimination of any kind

There is a major US election coming up in the next fourteen months.  No doubt the news will be full of “trending” stories concerning the pros and cons of various candidates.  It will be easy for many of us to take sides.  He is a Democrat.  She is a Republican.  They are independents.  He belongs to the Tea Party.  She belongs to the Coffee Party.  Such identification can and will only lead to more divisiveness, more intolerance and a greater inability to understand the arguments that are often critical to a comprehensive solution that can result in a win-win.  There is an antidote to this problem.

I suggest we look at all of the candidates running for office and ask ourselves “Will they bring our country together?”  “How do they rank in terms of the new values?”  “How do they compare in terms of the negativity values in my list above?”   I offer that we need to care less about party affiliations and more about the values that we see our candidates espousing.  We are no longer a “New nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”  The USA is nearly 250 years old now.  We can remain true to the values of our founding fathers only by realizing that it is now the 21st century and that there are new values that must be added to the old values that made our nation great. This truth applies to every country in the world.  The path forward can be to a future that will be a happier world for all of us to live in.  As Jesus said:

“No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”  — Luke 9:62

Time for Questions:

What can we do to help create a better world for everyone, not just those in our country?  Which of the USA candidates for president do you think will most care about people?  Are you picking your candidate out of fear or distrust of the future?  What candidates will do the best to be inclusive, ethical and moral?  Are you supporting these candidates?  Why or why not?

Life is just beginning.

“Nothing brings me more happiness than trying to help the most vulnerable people in society. It is a goal and an essential part of my life – a kind of destiny. Whoever is in distress can call on me. I will come running wherever they are.”   — Princess Diana

Sin and Evil

I hope you will excuse the apparent redundancy in the title of this blog.  I had started it as Sin and the Serial Killer but then decided it would be Sin and the Mass Killer.  I wanted to include spree, serial and mass murderers in this treatise on sin and evil.  The title, Sin, Serial Killers, Spree Killers and Mass Murderers: Why are they Evil?, just seemed too long.  Actually, if you think Sin and Evil are redundant, I can assure you they are not the same. 

When I was a young boy going to a Catholic School called Mount St. Francis, I learned that there were two types of sin:  Venial and Mortal.  A Mortal sin (if un-confessed at death) would earn you a one way ticket straight to hell.  No stops along the way.  A Venial sin would get you into a place called Purgatory.  If I remember correctly, Purgatory was a lot like hell, you did not get to see God and it was awfully hot. However, a ticket to Purgatory could eventually be exchanged for a ticket to heaven.  You merely had to sit in Purgatory for some length of time and then you would be allowed to change your place of residence.

Way back then, and even today, I had a hard time trying to figure out what were Venial Sins and what were Mortal sins.  Perhaps this is why I rejected the catechism of Catholicism and eventually all of organized religion.   The nuances and intricacies of getting to heaven or hell were beyond my cognitive capacities.  For instance, one of my great pleasures “Masturbation” was good for a ticket to hell.  I cannot tell you how many tickets I earned to hell while deriving great pleasure from this pastime.  I still cannot understand why something that hurts no one, including myself and is actually a great deal of fun would be deemed a Mortal sin.  Neither can I give you an example of a Venial sin since I think I never committed any.  Somehow all of my sins at the time were Mortal:  Disobeying my parents, taking the Lord’s name in vain and having sex without marriage.  I was good for at least 50 Hail Marys’ at every confession I went to. 

So since we cannot define sin, can we say that there is no sin?  Assuredly you would answer NO!  Sin is Evil.  If so, then we must define evil.  If we say that evil is committing a sin, then we really are being redundant.   Perhaps looking at some definitions of evil might help us with this problem.  Here are some various definitions of evil:

  • Profound immorality, wickedness, and depravity, esp. when regarded as a supernatural force.
  • According to the Bible evil becomes a reality in the very beginning with the first couple. Sin produces evil. Gen 2:9, the tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
  • Although the Bible meaning of evil includes the idea of sinfulness or wickedness in many cases, it also has a broader meaning that is commonly used. In this broader meaning, evil refers to those things that are generally thought of as bad or undesirable; or as the dictionary says, “causing pain or trouble.” This would include things such as wars or disease and this is the kind of evil referred to in Isaiah 45:7.

I think you can easily see that the common definitions of sin and evil are not very helpful on a day to day basis.  It could be argued quite easily that one person’s sin is another person’s good.  Or that sin and evil are simply social conventions defined by majority thought.  Wars and disease are part of the normal fabric of life and when were any political leaders ever consigned to hell because they declared war?  It seems like a rather good idea but I don’t see it happening anytime soon. 

I suppose you are expecting me then to make a case (perhaps already started) that there is no such thing as sin or perhaps even evil?  Actually, I want to argue the opposite.  The older and I hope wiser I have become the more I see that Sin and Evil actually do exist.  Sin and Evil are behaviors that create havoc and devastation in the world. 

My path to this conclusion lay in my thinking about mass murderers.   Much of the general public are fascinated by the subject of serial killers.  It would seem that at least ½ of the novels on the best seller list have serial killers as their theme.  We are intrigued and perplexed by trying to understand why anyone would commit the crimes (a legal term as I use it and not to be confused necessarily with sin or evil) that these individuals do.  If anything could be generally agreed on as evil by most people, it would be these types of murders, including; spree, serial and mass type executions done by individuals and not sanctioned by state or governmental authority.  So we do have at least one area that we can agree on as evil.  Perhaps a definition of evil as applied to such killers would be:  “The taking of random innocent lives by unknown assailants for no apparent purpose.”  But then are these killers also sinners?   Again, you would readily answer yes to this question, but why?  Where in the Bible does it condemn mass killings as sinful?  The Old Testament is full of mass killings perpetrated for gain and convenience.  What sets the mass murderer apart from the murders perpetuated by one society against another society?  Is there any difference? 

I think the answer is yes.  If you look at the motivation of the mass murderers, people like Bundy, Gacy, Dahmer and many others you will find some common purposes.  Wikipedia defines the “motives” of serial killers as: 

The motives of serial killers are generally placed into four categories: visionarymission-orientedhedonistic and power or control; however, the motives of any given killer may display considerable overlap among these categories.  Wikipedia

What does not emerge from this typology is the rather obvious fact that in each case, the perpetrator has destroyed something and created nothing.  All mass murderers destroy and leave nothing of any value for the world.  They gain their joy from the act of destruction. Whether they torture their victims or kill them all in mass with a bomb, mass murderers derive their pleasure at the moment of destruction.  Everything else connected with their heinous crimes are prelude and postscript.  Nothing gives the mass killer more pleasure than their ability to destroy and their anticipation of destruction.  The literature is full of examples of impotent murderers who were able to achieve potency only at the point of the actual murder of their victims.  This has been true in mass killings as well as individual killings. 

If Evil is the destruction of life, then Sin is the arrogation of the power to destroy life by an individual.  It has often been claimed that there is a Yin and Yang in the world and that Good is the opposite of Evil.  Or that the Devil represents Sin and Evil and God represents Virtue and Goodness.  I believe this is wrong.  It is a false dichotomy.  The mass killer wants to be like God.  God is the ultimate power.  The Devil cannot stand up to God.  In the madness of the mass killer, they want to experience the power of God.  However, there is a grave difference between the power of God and the power of the Devil.  The Devil only has the power to destroy.  God has the power to both create and destroy.  But the destruction of the Devil and the destruction of God are not the same. The destruction that God creates is a cosmic destruction that is part of the cycle of life.  God’s destruction perpetuates creation by allowing a continuous cycle of birth and rebirth throughout the universe.  The Devil’s destruction creates nothing except evil.  The mass killer destroys but never creates.  On a more limited scale, vandals are evil because they destroy without creating anything. 

To conclude then, I would define Sin as the taking of power to destroy by an individual without the responsibility to create.  Evil is destruction without the creation of value.  Someone who destroys something may be guilty of both being Sinful and Evil.  The mass murderer wants to be like God and to experience the power of God but in the end fails.  Humans can never have the power to create life except where some life did not first exist.  The definition of God is one who can give life and can also take it away.  I know not whether there is a God as defined by organized religion but there is a power in the universe which perpetuates a creative cycle of birth and rebirth or creation and destruction.  There are also those people who have more in common with the Devil since they only destroy.  This is the evil of the mass murderer and any who would be God without the responsibility to create as well as to destroy. 

Time for Questions:

What do you think Evil is?  Do you think the Devil really exists?  What is Goodness?  Can humans be both good and evil?  When does anything become pure evil?  Do we really need a God in the world?  Why or Why not?  What role does God play in your life?  What role does the Devil play? 

Life is just beginning.

 

 

 

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