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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Big Picture: Politics & Religion, Part 3

This post is the third in a series, and attempts to tackle the flattering aspect of anti-agent ideology.

You might ask, why aren't we all on that left side of the sphere? Who wouldn't want to be a good, giving person? The Leftist ideology tells us that the Left is kind, compassionate, loving, caring, charitable, and, above all, fair. Who wouldn't want to be associated with such a magnanimous bunch? They are all good-hearted heroes -- they want to "save the world" through the cult of environmentalism, while the evil (and clearly self-defeating) conservatives only want to selfishly and short-sightedly destroy it, right? The Left wants everyone to be equal -- because inequality is bad, right? Take from the evil rich and give to the deserving poor...how can that be wrong?

The left is rife with secular humanistic self-righteousness. Satan flatters the Left into believing they are the good guys. But the policies associated with that brand of thinking all lead directly to the top of that sphere -- to totalitarianism and the ultimate in anti-agency. A perfect example is the canard that forced charity is charity at all. Nope - charity (the pure love of Christ) comes from the heart, and no government can dictate the nature of a citizen's heart.

Meanwhile, the right side of the sphere has its own flattery, in the form of "patriotism" and religious self-righteousness. If you don't recite the pledge of allegiance, you are evil! If you don't believe in my exact brand of religion, then you are going to burn in hell! Yeah, that sure wins a lot of people over. But it sure feels good, right? It's so very flattering to believe that you are better than everyone else because you are truly patriotic and because you have God's stamp of approval.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that I believe my church to be the only true church on the face of the earth. But that doesn't make me self-righteous. For one thing, I know that I am personally very flawed. For another, I know that there are many beliefs from many other people in the world that are worthwhile and valuable and can add to the overall goodness of the world. And I would never use my belief in my own "rightness" to make another person feel inferior. Rather than point out where others are wrong, I prefer to see the ways in which they are right and good. Rather than criticize, I prefer help people. And I know that if they don't want to be helped, I can't and shouldn't force them. I respect agency. I am not an anti-agent (that would go against the core of my faith system).

Thus, humility is a major key to defeating the flattery of Satan. You can't love others and lift them up or effectively help them change for the better if you are proud. If you are listening to Satan's flattery, and placing yourself above others (believing yourself to know what's best for them), you are being an anti-agent. If you are letting yourself be flattered into believing that the "left" or the "right" is the only way to go, then you've bought into the "linear spectrum" paradigm that is designed to obfuscate the true "spherical" paradigm, and you are thus on your way to the top of that sphere.

But as I have said, there are dangers in going too far the other way -- refraining from imposing any kind of moral-behavioral restraints on citizens (such as not punishing crimes like murder, or not acknowledging property rights) results in a different kind of anti-agency.

In the next installment, we'll take a look at why anarchy can be just as anti-agency as totalitarianism, and why it is so deceptively appealing to some.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Big Picture: Politics & Religion, Part 2

It's all lies.

In my previous post, I established some basic terminology that comprised a description of the general political landscape; namely the concept that regardless of the label (Republican, Democrat, communist, fascist, libertarian, Constitutionalist, anarchist), you are either pro-agency or anti-agency. Either you favor those forms of government, policies, and paradigms that lead to greater agency for individuals, or you prefer those that lead to lesser agency. It's easy to see that totalitarianism limits agency, but it should also be clear that anarchy also limits agency.

In a future post, I'll describe how Satan's goal is to destroy our agency (it has always been his goal). For now, to keep more directly on the subject of politics, I'll write under the assumption that it's Satan's goal to undermine agency, and address how he uses political mechanisms to achieve his ends.

As the "Father of Lies," deception is Satan's chief tool for dragging individuals down. He uses deception to blind our minds, to pit us against each other, to discourage us, to wrap us in addictions, to numb our minds, to distract us, and to dissuade us from our true purpose and identity. And he uses deception as a key method of driving political wedges between us.

The truth is, as children of God, we are all far more alike than we are different. And with a few exceptions, we all generally want the same things -- life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are high on the list. But Satan would rather you think that most of your brothers and sisters on this planet are your enemy -- that they are out to get you, and seek to compel you to do or not do things with which you personally disagree. Satan does his level best to make you believe that most other people are anti-agents, just like him.

Power, it turns out, is a great temptation for many people. I personally do not understand it -- I don't see the appeal and have never aspired to power. But Satan whispers to men and women that if they could just have sufficient power, they could do so much good for mankind. The person of power is a paragon of virtue, one who truly knows what is best for you, knows best how to spend your money, understands that certain controls on the people are for their own good, and of course, that they themselves have only the best of intentions and would never become corrupt. And thus, tyrants are born.

A governmental system that distributes power more diffusely is better suited to upholding agency and diminishing the likelihood of creating despots. Again, this aligns with the system designed by the founders/framers. Systems that concentrate power (communism, fascism) will always result in greater widespread misery and minimized agency for all but the elite few in control.

So, Satan pits us against each other, the "left" rooting for their champions who are pushing for one style of anti-agency, and the "right" rooting for their champions who are pushing for another style of anti-agency. Both sides demonize each other, while the government leviathan continues to grow and coalesce toward the top of the sphere (see previous post).

Deception is such a powerful and flexible tool. Sometimes I wonder if Satan is such a good and practiced liar that he's lying to himself. Has he fooled himself into believing that he's "right"? Does he truly and sincerely believe that removing everyone's agency is the best course? Does he think God is wrong? Or did he only think that during the War in Heaven, but afterward, when he lost, did he realize his mistake and get angry and bitter and desire everyone else's downfall? Or has he just been a liar from the very beginning?

In the end, it doesn't really matter. He continues to serve his purpose of providing opposition, so that we can continue to grow and learn and make our choice of whether we will choose good or evil.

But he makes that choice difficult by disguising evil as good and good as evil, pitting us against each other (as the author of contention), and discouraging us (by lying to us about who and what we really are, what our potential is, and what our relationship to each other really is).

So, how do we realign our supposed differences? We can start by dismissing the lies. We must seek unity. We must focus on our common ground. I'm not talking about all holding hands and singing kumbayah. But I do believe that if we are sufficiently humble, we can break free of the forces of anti-agency and choose to be better -- choose to stop our government from getting to the top of the sphere. And that requires an awakening that impacts the very souls of those who would seek power and become tyrants.

In the next installment of this series, I'll talk about the flattery Satan uses to trick people into believing the lies of the "left" and the "right" (upper half of the sphere).

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Big Picture: Politics & Religion, Part 1

Let's start with some definitions. (I really don't care if you agree with my definitions; I am merely defining my terms so that there's no confusion about what I mean when I say certain things.)

There are lots of different terms that float around in political discourse: leftist, right-wing, socialist, communist, fascist, tyranny, freedom, liberty, pro-this, anti-that, libertarian, liberal, conservative, centrist, statist, choice, control, big government, laissez-faire, wing-nut, moonbat, single-issue...the list goes on and on. One thing that many of these terms have in common is that they attempt to describe things in terms of a linear spectrum, usually represented by "left" and "right" at opposite ends of that spectrum.

I reject this simplistic and misleading construct, and prefer to use my own paradigm. And that paradigm is best described with a visual I created:

Each "side" of the sphere roughly represent what people generally call the "left" and the "right," but the extra dimensions add context and show important relationships.

At the bottom, we have anarchy -- the ultimate absence of any governing structure. At the top, we have totalitarianism -- the opposite of anarchy -- where the government controls everything and is everything. The labels are pretty self-explanatory, but it is useful to note that the further up the sphere you move, the closer the "left" and "right" get to each other, until they become indistinguishable for all intents and purposes. In practice, totalitarianism is totalitarianism, regardless of the flavor.

The sweet spot for most liberty-minded people is somewhere near the bottom of the sphere, though not so far down that you slip into anarchy and lose such basic concepts as the social contract, minimal social safety nets, and the simple order requisite for maintaining shared infrastructure and mutually-agreeable discourse (arbitrated to the minimal extent necessary).

Based on the way they wrote the Constitution, and the things they said in their writings, the founding fathers/framers liked to hang out right down there near the bottom, where personal liberty was greatest, but without going so far down that they sacrificed civility. They put systems in place to prevent our governance from creeping up either side of the sphere toward totalitarianism, because they rightly placed a high value on natural (God-given) rights, and understood the nature of man and the horrors of tyranny.

Keep in mind, mine is a three-dimensional model, so there can sometimes be "crossover" from one side of the sphere to the other, in terms of certain characteristics -- but generally speaking, these roles are fairly set. For example, economic libertarianism may be found in the lower left sometimes, and fascism can be found in the upper left sometimes. And aspects of socialism can exist on the upper right. Crony capitalism exists on both sides of the upper sphere. Secular humanistic morality lives in the lower left, while Judeo-Christian morality hangs out on the lower right -- but they can also trade places sometimes (depending on who you are, because everybody's different).

Toward the bottom, we have greater freedom; toward the top, greater tyranny. Tolerance for others exists toward the bottom of the sphere; intolerance at the top (it's important to remember this is the case on both sides). Near the bottom (excepting anarchy), we have a moderate social safety net; toward the top, utter dependence on the state. As you move up from the bottom, you trade liberty for security; autonomy for conformity. On the left side, the security usually takes the form of false financial security; on the right side, it's false military security. Tolerance for others is stronger in the lower right than the lower left. Intolerance for others is strong in the upper sphere on both sides (the left is intolerant of religion and any opposing or non-conforming views; the right is intolerant of differing belief systems).

So, instead of using the term "leftist," or any other confusing term like "fascist," I will be using a new term: anti-agency. Those who wish to destroy agency by either implementing ultimate government control (making us captive to authority) or by eliminating all governing structure (making us captive to chaos and self-destructive addiction) are anti-agency, or, anti-agents.

Okay...definitions done.

Now, why do my north and south poles look identical? Because if Satan can get us to either one of those locations, it serves his purposes just as well. His goal is to limit or destroy our agency. If the social structure is too oppressive (totalitarianism), or non-existent (anarchy), agency is severely limited, damaged, and removed.

Essentially, we have only two camps: those who favor agency, and those who oppose it. Sounds a lot like two other camps you may be familiar with, dating back to before the world was.

In the next installment, we'll take a look at some of the implications of these concepts in terms of spiritual ideas...since the war over agency that started in heaven continues in force today.

[Full disclosure: I am not affiliated with any political party.]