Monday, September 8, 2008

Week of 09/08/2008

War Mentality: The Ultimate Corruption
– by David Matthews 2

In the movie “The Dark Knight”, Gotham City is besieged by a new criminal leader calling himself The Joker. And what makes this scar-marked makeup-wearing jester so dangers is that he is nothing like any of the criminals Gotham City ever encountered. He rewards loyalty with disloyalty, he robs for seemingly no reason, he kills for seemingly no purpose, and he holds nothing sacred. NOTHING!

He is the perfect foil for the Batman. Here is a character that seemingly has no morals, no standards, and no rules whatsoever! He trashes everything that people cherish. He is everything that Batman is not. Where the Batman has a double life, the Joker seemingly doesn’t have one. While the Batman has expensive high-tech tools at his disposal, the Joker tries to keep things simple… things like gasoline and guns and knives. And where the Batman has friends and loved ones and allies, the Joker has only people who obey him for fear that they may be killed, even though they may be killed anyway.

Where Batman fights for order, the Joker champions pure chaos. And where the Batman has rules (even “just one”), the Joker’s only rule is that there are no rules.

The Joker is, without a shadow of a doubt, an actual true-blue absolute ANARCHIST!

And here you thought that those were just a myth!

And the central point of the Joker’s message of chaos and anarchy is his continued assertion that nobody is good, noble, or decent. That EVERYONE can be bought, EVERYONE can be a hypocritize, and EVERYONE can be corrupted.

Everything that the Joker does in the movie is a reflection of his central point. He plays mind games on people, saint and sinner alike, to prove that there really is no difference between them.

At the climax of the movie, the Joker holds two ferries full of people hostage. He’s rigged both of them with explosives and left each ship’s captain a device that he claimed would detonate the other ferry. One ferry is full of ordinary citizens. The other is full of convicted prisoners with armed guards. Both ships would be destroyed at midnight if one of them doesn’t destroy the other first.

Mind-boggling, isn’t it? Who would be more willing to kill the other? That’s all part of the Joker’s master plan. Everything is done to generate chaos and fear, which makes people more willing to do what he ultimately wants them to do.

It’s all about one thing: corruption. That’s the central theme of the whole movie. Who is willing to sacrifice everything they believe in?

To some extent, it’s something that we all have to deal with in our lives. We all have to decide what kind of sacrifice we need to make. What kind of things can we live with to get through the day?

That’s all that corruption is. We call it compromise, but in most instances, we’re the only ones that are giving up anything of value.

A police officer chooses to not obey the law in order to get some fast cash. The other party is willing to give up the money, so the only sacrifice here is the police officer’s morals. That’s not a compromise, because there’s nothing mutual about that kind of sacrifice. That’s a personal surrender. That’s a cop that believes that the law isn’t as important as money.

That’s the real difference between corruption and compromise. There HAS to be a mutual sacrifice for a common good for it to be called compromise. If there isn’t a mutual sacrifice, then you’re just prostituting yourself and what you believe in.

A cop on the take essentially says “my badge and everything it represents is for sale. Let’s find out how much it’s worth.”

Of course when we talk about corruption, we can’t forget about politicians. These are the REAL masters of corruption. They know who is for sale, what is for sale, and for how much! In fact the only difference between a politician and a prostitute is that a prostitute will screw WITH people for money, while a politician will screw people OVER for money.

To be certain, there are uncorrupted politicians. There are politicians that stand for and actually practice certain principles. Those are the politicians that usually don’t go very far in the halls of governments large and small… and more often then naught it’s small. They don’t advance. They don’t excel. Their efforts are stymied at every corner by those who sell their principles and their platforms and their votes like they work in a Nevada brothel.

But they’re not the only ones so badly stained by corruption that it has become part of the institution itself. Religious leaders are that way as well.

See if any of this sounds familiar… you’re part of a major religious organization with influence around the world. Your organization is so large that you actually have your own country. It is an organization that has traditionally sold spiritual forgiveness for money. It advocates peace and turning-the-other-cheek but has a verifiable history of torture and outright murder. It has, in the past, allowed evil to thrive simply because the evil was committed against those that were not a part of the organization. And now you discover that there are those within that same organization that are repeatedly doing unspeakable things with children.

How do you react to that kind of discovery? Are you shocked by it? Are you disgusted? Angry? And what is your first concern? Is it for the victims? Is it for justice? Or is it for “the image” of the institution?

If you think about it, this organization – and you really don’t have to go very far to guess which one I’m talking about – has already been corrupted by its own previous actions. It is so corrupted by what it has done that it treats this new scandal as simply just another sacrifice. It doesn’t even faze them when they discover how pervasive this discovery is. Shuffle the guilty people around, buy off the victims and their families, and just carry on like it never happened.

THAT is corruption, boys and girls! It is corruption that is so pervasive that it literally is part of the institution itself.

But the real prize in corruption is not going after those that have already compromised everything they believe in. Rather it is in corrupting those that claim that they ARE NOT for sale, or that they support things that are not for sale.

We like to say that our values and our votes are not for sale, but how many of you HAVE actually surrendered what you believe in? The vast majority of you do so every Election Day when you surrender your principles and vote for someone you may not like, but you feel you HAVE to vote for so the other person doesn’t win.

How many of you have been completely disgusted by the quality of our elected officials? How many of you yearn for someone different? How many of you WANT a third party choice or an independent candidate? And yet, when one is provided… how many of you will categorically REFUSE to vote for that candidate? Or, worse yet, how many of you will actively condemn that candidate and anyone who supports that candidate?

Why? Because, you say, that the independent candidate doesn’t “stand a chance of winning.” And yet if you have ENOUGH people who WANT that kind of third option, wouldn’t it prove that the candidate DOES have a chance of winning? Your whole argument is defeated right there.

Or perhaps you tell yourself that, while you would LIKE to see the independent candidate win, it’s more important to make sure that one of the OTHER candidates DOESN’T. You convince yourself that you’re not voting FOR a person, but that you’re voting AGAINST someone else.

If you fall under either of those two categories, then let’s face it… YOU ARE CORRUPT! You have already prostituted your beliefs and your Election Day support. You have proven that what you believe is for sale. Maybe it’s not done for money, and most often it’s not, but certainly what you CLAIM to value is ultimately meaningless if you can surrender it for someone else’s ulterior motive.

But there are still people who believe that there are certain principles that ARE NOT for sale or negotiation. They believe so firmly on these principles that they will gladly give up their lives for them.

For those people, we have the ultimate in temptation… WAR!

You say that you’re willing to give up your life for those principles? Well, we’ll take you up on that offer. We’ll give you an enemy to fight, and a battlefield to fight in, and we’ll give you the tools you’ll need to fight that enemy.

Oh, and by the way, the enemy won’t be hampered by those principles that you cherish. They’ll be free to fight any way they can, and they’ll use anything and everything at their disposal, and the only way that you can win is if you fight just as low and as dirty as they are. Good luck!

Let’s get brutally honest here… when it comes to corruption, be it of the individual, an institution, or even a country, you cannot find a greater tool for corruption than WAR. WAR is the ultimate corruptor!

And what makes WAR so insidious is the mentality that goes with it. Sure you can CLAIM to fight for certain causes, and for a while you may actually do just that. But after a while, you start to feel those causes be a burden or even a hindrance to the ultimate goal to fighting that war… which is TO WIN!

This is why tyrants love to wage war. They love war because they know that as long as they can keep that war mentality going, they can convince people to give up EVERYTHING they have and EVERYTHING they believe in to fight it.

Don’t believe in killing? Well a war mentality eliminates that right off the bat. You don’t want to kill, well then you’re a gutless coward that has no business even breathing air in OUR country! GET OUT!

You’re willing to fight and die for our war? Then the war mentality will see just how FAR you’re willing to take things. Are you ready to kill innocent people to win? Not just accidentally shoot people who turn out to be innocent, but actually outright MURDER innocent people just to send a message to the enemy? No? Why not? The enemy does that! The enemy will KILL anything and everything to get what it wants, and if you’re not willing to do the same, then you’re a LOSER and a COWARD!

Are you willing to go after your own people? The war mentality will certainly demand that you do, because the enemy certainly will. We’re in a war and we CANNOT afford to have people who are not as loyal and devoted and committed to the cause as we are! If you can’t match our loyalty and our devotion, then YOU’RE A TRAITOR!

And all the while you’re beating your chest about how we need to win this war at all costs, take a look at what is happening in the meantime. The very things that you’re fighting this war for… the very principles and standards and values that you pledged to give your life up to defend… are being surrendered in the name of fighting this war! The very principles and standards and values that you once claimed were eternal and everlasting and should NEVER be sacrificed EVER! They’re gone!

And that is precisely the ultimate goal of a tyrant. That’s how they’re able to subvert the masses.

Look at the Middle East. The continued call for a holy war… the jihad… is painted as not just a “spiritual struggle”, but a physical one waged against real people. And to wage it, the devout Muslim supposedly has to do anything and everything possible.

Look at the former Soviet Union. It wasn’t enough to create what they deemed to be a “social and political utopia” (which was what “The Communist Manifest” was supposedly about), but they had to wage war AGAINST the forces of capitalism to preserve it. And to that end, the Soviet citizens were told that they had to commit everything they had to their military. Nuclear missiles were more important than food. Military resorts were more important than toilet paper.

Look at the United States. When we weren’t fighting the Cold War, we were fighting the War on Drugs, the War on Poverty, the War on Crime, and the War on Sex. And now, of course, we have the War on Terror and the War on Corporations. And we use anything to justify them, and we use them to justify giving up EVERYTHING we believe in.

Listen to some of the rhetoric! “We don’t torture…” unless we suspect that there MIGHT be something bad happening, and then it’s okay to torture. We have Supreme Court Justices that have ACTUALLY USED the fictional TV show “24” to justify torture!

We believe in free speech… unless it involves opposing any of our aforementioned “wars”, both actual and political. Then we’ll silence those voices, because we don’t want to “demoralize our forces”.

We believe in freedom of the press… unless it shows caskets of dead soldiers or of people protesting any of our aforementioned “wars”. We recently had credential-carrying reporters ARRESTED by the police simply for being AT anti-war protests!

We believe in privacy… unless we SUSPECT there might be something bad going on, and then, just like we “don’t torture”, we “don’t eavesdrop” without warrants. We don’t even use the special courts that we had set up that would allow us to “not eavesdrop” for up to six months without checking with them after-the-fact. The most permissive court in the world for a power-mad government, and we STILL want to bypass it!

We believe in the freedom of religion… but we give preferential treatment to some religious beliefs and subjugate others. We will outright LIE about what the First Amendment really says about religion, and believe that it only applies to OUR personal religious beliefs, and that no other beliefs matter. And we will incorporate the same WAR mentality in our “peace-loving” religion that the clerics in the Middle East have been using.

And when I say “we”, I don’t just mean President George W. Bush or Vice-President Dick Cheney or any number of their acolytes and surrogates and sympathizers. I don’t just mean the conservative talk radio hosts or the eager tools in Rupert Murdoch’s media empire. I don’t just mean the families of servicemen and women. I mean “we” as in ALL OF US - supporters, opponents, and those in-between one-and-all - because they’re supposedly doing this all ON BEHALF of all of us.

And all of it is justifiable. All of it is rationalized as being essential to fighting any number of “wars” that we are engaged in, especially the ones that involve tanks and bombs and guns.

All the while, though, we beat ourselves in the chest and crow on and on about how “our principles” are strong and eternal. We convince ourselves that our cause is just and that we’re waging these wars IN THE NAME OF the very principles and values that we have just surrendered.

We are, in effect, liars and hypocrites and whores when we do that.

But we’ll never see it like that. We will never admit to being those things, because then we would have to own up to our own sins. We would have to explain to our children and to our grandchildren how we could prostitute ourselves and our beliefs in the name of something that we demonstrated to be far greater… namely, war.

By the end of the movie “The Dark Knight”, Batman discovered what he had to do in order to defeat the Joker. He had to give up everything that he worked so hard to build. He had to give up those he loved. He had to give up friends and allies, people who would do anything to support him. And he had to convince people that he was, in effect, no different than the Joker. No matter what Batman and his allies did, the Joker ended up winning. That’s how far the corruption reached.

And before any of us can claim to be better than that, we need to open our eyes and take a GOOD HARD REAL LOOK at what is being done in our name and ask ourselves what REALLY makes us better than our enemies. If you cannot realistically answer that question, then you have no claim to being better. You’re just another corrupt hypocrite.

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