Wednesday, October 27, 2004

A House Divided, But Why?

For the second time in thirty years I am reading The Peloponnesian War cover to cover. I read it as a boy at University. It was "Vietnam" - it was too painful to read words written 2500 years ago that spoke to my world. It is too painful to read it now, but I will do it because Thucydides still speaks the truth to our world. Thucydides writes of a city divided against its self, where power means more to politicians than the survival of their way of life.

To compare small things to great. (A favorite phrase from Herodotus) Some years ago I was asked to take over a failing Boy Scout Camp on Catalina Island. I knew of this camp and one night had dreamed I stood by the sea and was given a chance to direct it. The actual offer seemed to be a miracle. My wife and I visited Cherry Valley. What a mess. There were piles of garbage; barrels of liquor bottles. Filth blanketed the dining hall; where the most astonishing object was a mounted litter display hanging over the tables. As I spoke with the man I would replace and members of his staff, it became obvious to me that these people had a disdain for Scouting. They had no desire to use Cherry Cove to instill the values of scouting in boys, or even to give kids a good time at the sea. All these loafers wanted was a little kingdom of self indulgent pleasure. A former staffer told me his goal in coming to CCV was to catch some sun and drink beers with his pal Bill. Bill was the former boss. I told the applicant that we didn't have a position that fit "his" job description. When the Scout Executive, a man of great vision and courage, granted my only stipulation - 100% discretion in hiring - I accepted the job. What followed was the most painful experience of my life; an enormous success that brought me great pain. In the summer that followed, a wonderful staff turned every thing around. A camp that couldn't fill its eight week schedule; that lost thousands of dollars; that didn't have a working washing machine; that was due for closure; blossomed. It expanded to nine weeks and has been booked full for years in advance ever since. The enormous income it generates is the foundation of the financial success of the San Gabriel Valley Council. Its staff, programs, equipment, and location are the source of Scouting Spirit to thousands, and a great joy and satisfaction to the hundreds who have worked there in the ten years since. To me it is a stinking burden, a painful memory that only the pure waters of Yellow Stone can wash away. What destroyed my dream? Division! Not financial success, not restoration of the camp and solvency for the council could soften the anger of those who I had removed and their bitter friends. Throughout that terrible first summer I was attacked in every way imaginable. Accused of crimes and incompetence, attacked by letters and petitions, staff members subverted and faltered to attack our program and tell tales. Lies and more lies were circulated. Had it not been for my assistant, the loyalty and friendship of my staff, the support of my wife and children, and the gratitude of the scouts and scouters we served, I would have quit. The very people who had distoryed Camp Cherry Valley changed paradise into hell for me. In their anger and hate they resented every success, distorted every advance into a crime. My enemies didn't care if Cherry Valley succeeded of failed, if scouting changed lives for the better or simply disappeared. They only wanted to destroy me.

Now I listen to the "talking heads" opine. They indict President Bush, asking why he can't unite the nation? Why he has failed to end the partisanship that tears our land apart? How was our nation split? Believe me when I tell you, I know!

The war for Power!!!!!

Bush must fail if the Democrats are to regain power. Counting on the ignorance of Americans the Democrats appeal to the lowest emotions: greed, prejudice, and fear to prevent Bush from succeeding at anything. Thus, like the demigods of the Athenian assembly, relativist attack his every effort. Truth nor justice, nothing matters but power. [Don't tell me that our President does the same unless you can back it up. There are differences between the right and the wrong - just ask the scouts at Cherry, ask the ghosts of the Athenians who died in the quarry at Syracuse. You will hear their voices in the pages fo Thucydides' book.]

Here is the backup to my claims:

Bush's bipartisan crafted attempt to improve education is vilified as teachers are mobilized against it in fear that they will have to work.

Bush's Social Security reforms are demonized as seniors are told to fear the loss of their benefits.
Bush put forward a conservation plan for our forests and we are told to fear the extermination of endangered species.

Bush plans to provide domestic energy and the imagined terrors of Global Warming and "caribou destruction" are concocted to vilify him.

Bush seeks to insure the safety of our nation's medical supplies and the elderly are told they will have to choose between their food and their prescriptions.

Bush, with bipartisan support in the House and Senate, crafted the Patriot Act that has kept America safe from terror since 9/11 and Americans are told to fear the loss of their civil rights - the Constitution in shreds, and Bush and Att. Gen. Ashcroft are compared to Hitler.

Bush mentions his faith and the Democrats bring up the specter of the Spanish Inquisistion.

The Assault Weapons Ban expires. This is a law that did not affect a single assault or automatic weapon, and Bush is accused of arming criminals with AK 47's and putting the lives of our nation's police in danger.

President Bush leads our trembling and dishearten nation back to peace and confidence and the Democrats make him a monster in collusion with "Saudis" and terrorists.

President Bush courageously liberated the people of Afghanistan, drives the al Qaida murderers into caves, and the Democrats accuse him of inciting attacks by not catching bin Laden in the deadly mountain passes of Tora Bora. This, after they cowered and grumbled against going into Afghanistan in the first place.

President Bush places black men and women in the positions of the greatest authority and responsibility in our nation, but Democrats falsely accuse him of seeking to disenfranchise black voters, playing the race card to capitalize on fear and hate they have concocted.

President Bush supported the will of the vast majority of Americans and their representives; of science and medicine, and signed the Partial Birth Abortion Ban. Democrats accuse him of trying to drive women to back alley abortions.

And the hits just keep coming.

In this self destructive grab for power the media has taken the side of the Relativists, the Democrats. There are out-and-out Media falsehoods like Dan Rather's forged letters and the "missing explosives" story and there is the constant current of bias that permeates every report. From Bush's first steps toward the presidency the "traditional media" plotted and confused. John McCain was a Media concoction; his run for the nomination a fabrication. His utter collapse in the primaries proves this, but his phoney candidacy diverted Bush campaign funds and divided Republicans over non issues. Now the media turns to McCain and Buchanan, Bush's rivals, as sources of "Conservative" comment while ignoring the input of legitimate representatives of the administration. In the 2000 race the media did all it could to portray Gov. Bush in a negative light while pandering to Gore; as they had to Clinton; as the now do to Kerry. The elite media challenged Bush's intellect and set traps to question his abilities. Two days before the election they put up the non-issue of a 30 year old traffic ticket. The media supported the hoax of the Florida election challenge; doing all it could to perpertuate Gore's unjustified claims while burying the truth. They chanted attacks against the U. S. Supreme Court while unjustly defending a one vote pro-Gore margin in the Florida court. A decision which the Florida justices later apologized for making. The media digs for dirt on Bush while hiding his accomplishments. Eighty to ninety percent of the media have come out for Kerry. A chief editor at News Week actually bragged the liberal bias of the press would give Kerry fifteen points in the polls. Bush recieves 59% negative reports while Kerry recieves only 25%. The press is rooting for Kerry. It is sad. In the past four years I have caught myself reflecting that a Democrat victory would at least put the media back on American's side.

On my tiny world at Catalina I had to face down the torrent of fear, prejudice, jealousy, and hate. Each Sunday afternoon I greeted the leaders from Pasadena with a heavy heart. Most of them came in angry, having heard that camp was dangerous, that the food was bad, that they would not have program opportunities, that there was no coffee or Coca Cola to drink. It only took them a day to realize they had been lied to. Judge one's works not the lies of those whose power is dependant on divison and failure.

History will judge George Bush by his works, but sadly there are not many people who read history. If they did they would know that Thucydides has already written the sad story of our day; the too sad tale of a free people of seemingly infinite strength brought into slavery by those who tore down and destroyed their own city for power's sake. I will read The Peloponnesian War again. I wish we all would!


Dan Simpson said...

I love reading your posts. I am, however, sad that you have such painful memories of Cherry. While I can understand, at least partially, why you would, your feelings are so much different than mine. My years working for you were some of the best of my life. I left with the best friends I will ever have (not to mention a wife).

I think that the opposition we faced that first summer was one of the reasons that we were so good.

Don't worry too much Delose, good will always win.

RealFruitBeverage said...

I loved this post as well. It reminded me of better times. Everything was tough that first summer. I don't know why but I felt I myself and everyone around me was at there best. I still think back to those times and use that as the measure of where I should be in my own personal development. I wouldn't have traded those hardships for anything. Those hardships made me bond with all the staff members in a way I have yet to see again. It also brought out the best in me. When people overtly oppose something good it put me on notice that we were fighting for something.

I met and got to know some of the best people in my life from that summer. They would eventually lay the foundations for my religious choices. (I also met Dan's wife in the camp context.)

The fist year at cherry valley taught me one thing, the greater the opposition the greater the prize. The time to give up is never. There are a lot of things what will try to get good people to be distracted from the prize. Sometimes it is the direct hatred of people in the grips of hate and greed. Sometimes it could be something as innocent as falling in love with the wrong person. Anyways I digress.

I agree with Dan. (yeah it hurts to say)

Rumpole said...

Optimisim is a noble trait that ought to be sought after; however, it is also a trait that must be tempered with realism.

I am fairly certain that Lysis will agree when I challenge DannyBoy2's comment that "good will always win." History is littered with examples where good has not always won.

Societies (based either on secular or religious principles) have crumbled, and either imploded or been destroyed, when evil triumphed over good. Even recently in our own land we have been subjected to periods where evil has triumphed.

Who would have ever believed that thinking people would have elected the master sophist Bill Clinton to not just one, but two terms, even after his deciet and lies to the American people were exposed for all the world to see?

Who would have ever believed that a man as great as Robert Bork would not be appointed to the Supreme Court based on a delibert campaign of deception to prevent a perceived shift in the balance of power on the Court?

Who would have ever believed that murder would be declared legal under the guise of "choice"? (what a great marketing plan!)

So that there can be no misunderstanding about my optimism, I believe that Bush will win this election. But it won't happen because good always triumphs over evil; it will happen because there will still be enough good people that will act to protect their way of life rather than allow a minority to destroy that way of life based on a selfish quest for power.

I recognize that DannyBoy2's comments were probably directed more to Lysis' comments about his experience at Cherry Valley. The healing balm of his words will do much to salve the still open wound of the Cherry Valley experience; however, my analogy is still applicable and accurate when I say that the good does not always triumph. People need to act to insure that the right prevails in this election.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I have to completely and wholehearedly disagree. Good always wins. I dare you to give me one example of where evil triumphed (just so you know for evil to triumph they must win completely, otherwise it was a small victory in a larger conflict.)

Rumpole said...

I would offer that there are two ways to argue this point. There are those who would define time as finite and infinite. First, let's handle the finite.

Specific examples - Societies: The Roman Empire no longer exists. The Greek's are a shadow of what they once were. Religious: The Nephites no longer exist.

Were these societies good? I would argue that they were. All three were based on freedom and the voice of the people. All three fell as Lysis described, due to the prusuit of power over the good of society. I guess it could be argued that the good still triumphed due to the records that were kept for future societies to learn and overcome those mistakes; however, those records don't mean much to those who died and their future generations that never lived because of that selfishness.

An example of law: Roe vs. Wade. The law still exists. Even if the law is overturned and abortion were completely aboloished, there will never be a recovery of the souls to this great nation that have been lost.

Now for the infinite:
If time is infinite, and if God turns out to be all that He is promoted to be, it would seem to me that you are correct. What is troubling to me about this approach is that it is quite often used to justify inaction.

I do not suggest that our action should violate the law; I do not believe that the end justifies the means. I do believe that with those thoughts in mind we need to do all we can to win each battle.

Show me the man who continually says "don't worry, we lost the battle, but we will win the war", and I'll show you the man who just lost. Within that framework, there will be battles that will be lost (we've lost some in every war we've been in) but we can't shrug our shoulders and say we'll get them next time. We must be relentless in our pursuit for the truth and for its success. I believe that God expects no less from us.

I would also suggest here that even if the good prevails in the infinite framework, the short term costs are almost too much to bear. Lives that were never lived within and without a society is a high price to pay to hear someone suggest that "it is okay, it will all turn out in the end".

Boy, that was a little bit of a soapbox! I think I'll climb down now.

Dan Simpson said...

I must have accidentally hit anonymous.

You have actually proved my point quite well. At the time the Roman Empire fell you probably couldn't find a better example of evil in the world. Now I know that I will probably be crucified for this, as there are many here that worship at the altar of the Roman Empire, but I believe it to be true.

While at its best, there were many great and wonderful things that came out of the Roman empire. At the end, I would say that the people living under the thumb of the Romans (i.e. celts, germanic tribes) rejoiced at the fall of this "wonderful" empire.

I don't think you have to look at an infinite amount of time to see my point to be accurate. Look at the world today. How many evil societies exist in the world today that have been around for 100 years? 200 years?

Is there more or less freedom today than 200 years ago, 100 years ago, 50 years ago.

I continue to stand by what I said, as both a historian and a religious person, I believe this idea on both a temporal and eternal level.

Good will always win.

Rumpole said...

This is a point that we will have to agree to disagree on. Perhaps our disagreement is a question of scope. As you have suggested to me, it seems that your examples in respone demonstrate quite plainly what I have proposed.

It is difficult for me to believe that everyone within the Roman Society was evil. Not everyone in America is evil. But when the majority approves of that evil, the destruction of the whole will ensue. As Rush Limbaugh promoted the other day on his radio show, the greatest gift we have from God is agency; what I will add is that our agency isn't protected by the actions of others and their agency.

Good has not prevailed in the case of Rome, Greece, numerous religious examples, and abortion especially, for the innocent who have been slaughtered. I do not pretend to speak for Lysis, but I will assume that he represented the good at Cherry Vally, and is he still there? If you are suggesting that the destruction of a society (destoyed either internally or externally) turned evil (i.e. your Rome example) as the triumph of good because of that destruction, I can accept that. What I cannot accect is that those who were good within that society and lost all in the short or long term (depending on your religious view)would accept that the good had triumphed because of that destuction.

In direct answer to your freedom question, there is more freedom in the world today than 100 years ago. That freedom has come from a majority exercising their agency for that freedom. That freedom will not be protected in an of itself. It will only remain if the majority chooses it to remain.

The history of the world is replete with examples where the opposite(lack of freedom) has been true, where evil has reigned. Even domestically we have given up freeoms due to the agenda of the left. And if as a nation we continue down the path of that agenda (i.e. Roe vs. Wade, Bork, Thomas and Hill, The Clinton's etc.) we will end up as the Romans and the city of Thucydides.

I do not see that destruction as a triumph for good. I live here. I love the original principles our founding fathers promoted. In its pure form, the Constitution is the greatest governing document ever written. But it will not survive just because it is the greatest, and good always triumphs. It will survive because people act to protect it.

Dan Simpson said...

You are right that those who love freedom must act to protect it. This is not a notion that I have ever disagreed with. However, the way that you put your arguments about Rome, the U.S., etc. I do disagree with. Rome did not fall when it was led by good men doing good things. The U.S. likewise will not fall when those in power are good. When an empire as large and powerful as Rome is led by evildoers and those in power lust after power more than a desire to serve, when they are filled with a bloodlust that entices them to conquer, not to spread good things and bring groups out of oppression, but to bring gold into Rome and more people to fill the slave pens. When Rome fell, it was only sad in the memory of what it had been, or the hope for what it could be again. When Rome fell it was a bastion of powerful evil men, its fall was a great victory for good. Because its fall set the foundation for new republics, empires, kingdoms to rise that could take the good that was Rome and fight with everything they had to keep what was evil about it from corrupting their new home.

If the U.S. ever becomes a place where evil rules, where the good must live in fear of their lives and their power is stripped from them. Where we refuse to help other countries in need or conquer them for our own lusts, then I tell you I would lament the loss of good, but I would not weep for the country to disintegrate because what America was would have already died, and the rotting corpse that sat in its place would need to be removed before a new society could be formed.

Dr. Health said...

They had no desire to use Cherry Cove to instill the values of scouting in boys, or even to give kids a good time at the sea.