September 17, 2013

You are the only one who can save the world

A sarin gas attack in Syria. A mass shooting at a Navy base in Washington D.C. Flooding in Colorado. Landslides and tornadoes in Japan. A volcano erupting in Sumatra. As hard as it might be to believe, these are not uncommon incidents. Our world is a geologic cauldron set to a low boil. Deep beneath the surface the core is constantly bubbling and shifting about. The sun and moon pull and tug at the Earth constantly, causing even more turmoil and stress. There is no place on Earth that is truly stable. "Stability", "safety", "continuity", these are all illusions that shift into and out of focus depending on the time frame of the viewer. In a similar manner, human history is a long parade of abuse, violence, corruption, environmental destruction, and mass slaughter of innocents in the name of God, the King, the Children, or resources. There is no such thing as a "golden past" where everyone lived in peace, security, and plenty. It has never existed and it never will exist. The forces that tug and pull at the Earth are truly cosmic in their scope and power. No human society will ever have the technology to counteract the force of gravity on a scale large enough to bring the kind of geologic utopia so many people believe is possible. It simply will not happen. Unfortunately, it is largely due to the simple physics of geologic and meteorologic cataclysm that human individuals and societies will always find excuses to go to war with one another in a vain, useless attempt to secure for themselves the resources necessary to meet their physical and emotional needs.

It does not matter how big the government is, how many rich people the politicians confiscate the wealth from, or how many services politicians promise to provide. There will always be somebody wealthier than you are and there will always be somebody more impoverished than you are. Life is hard, often arbitrary, and sooner or later everyone dies. I have lived my entire life puzzled by the inability of so many people to accept the simple reality of our unstable, unpredictable, dangerous world. To entertain for even a moment that life could be safe, peaceful, and filled with material wealth for every person on Earth is delusional. It is neither idealistic nor generous to entertain the notion that with the right tax burden, the right government program, the right charity, or the right educational system, every person on Earth can live in love, peace, and happiness. This kind of thinking is neither wistful nor wishful. It is simply delusional, or at the very best, pure fantasy. The idea of utopia is pure imagination. It can never exist in the real world.

That does not mean it is hopeless. You, and you alone, have the power to make a difference. Don't imagine you have to start a civil war, found a great charity, or launch a massive political campaign in order to make the world a better place. The simple fact of the matter is, these are all pointless delusions. No matter how successful you become in any grand scheme to build a better world it will never be enough. All it will take is one volcano, one meteor, one big winter storm, one mass shooting, a local uprising, or even just a simple terrorist plot, and all the good you accomplished will be completely erased. A heart attack, an aneurysm, a mugger with a knife, or a single bite of contaminated food can end your life so quickly you will not have time to realize you are dying. Despite all the evil in the world, there is something you can do. If you make a habit of it then eventually things will improve for everyone around you, and for you as well. Perhaps only for a day, a week, or a year, but for a brief moment you can taste utopia. Just don't expect it to be permanent or long-lasting.

The one thing you can do to make the world a better place is learn to be personally generous. I am not suggesting you give up your worldly wealth or sacrifice your quality of life. Nor am I suggesting you give money to every grifter and panhandler who crosses your path. In fact, I would strongly suggest you never give money to people begging in the street. Never. Not a penny. Not a dime. I would also strongly suggest you stop giving money to your local church, to your favorite television evangelist, or to major international charities. Let's face it. The simple reality of the matter is the largest portion of the money you give to panhandlers, preachers, and charities goes straight into the pocket of the person begging for it. Panhandlers spend their money on drugs and alcohol, preachers and charities on their own personal needs or on their personnel. If you do your homework, insist on accountability, demand to see the books, and keep looking until you find the right place, then if you are very lucky you will find a place where twenty to twenty-five percent of your donation actually goes to the people who cannot live without it.

Instead, take a small portion of your income, ten or fifteen percent, and put it into a special account that you never use for your own needs, your own investments, or your own life. Then, open your eyes and look around you. Somewhere close to you there is a single mother struggling to feed her child on the income from a part time job. In your town or in a nearby city there will be a shelter for battered women and another for the homeless. There might even be a free clinic where local doctors and nurses donate their time a couple days a week. This is where you practice generosity. Locally. Right in your hometown, or perhaps the city down the road. Take a single parent who lives on your street grocery shopping or maybe fill the gas tank of an elderly neighbor living on Social Security. Somewhere very close to you is someone who is lonely and in need.

Don't waste your time and money on the bitter, the angry, or the parasites who have lived on government aid for multiple generations. Focus your efforts on those people and places that are trying to improve their lives, on people and institutions that emphasize hard work and sobriety. Yes, sobriety is important. It does no good to lift someone from the depths of addiction only to have them run straight back into it the moment they encounter difficulty. You won't need to bang on doors or ask humiliating questions. Just keep your eyes open and meet those needs you can the moment you encounter them. Live generously, not with some weird global guilt complex, but locally, among your neighbors, both those you are friends with and those who are strangers. Be prepared for disappointment. No matter how careful you are, there will be many who abuse your generosity. Learn who they are and avoid helping them repeatedly. The world is filled with parasites large and small. The goal of a generous life is to avoid the parasites and aid those who can transform your small gift into something life changing.

There are many lessons to be learned from the video below. The most important is not that if you help others eventually they will return the favor. The most important lesson to learn from this video is that you and you alone have the power to make the world a better place. Stop depending on governments and international charities. It's your little corner of the world! Start taking better care of it, especially if no one steps up to help you

September 01, 2013

More evidence Syrian rebels caused Sarin gas attack

"They didn't tell us what these arms were or how to use them," complained a female fighter named 'K.' "We didn’t know they were chemical weapons. We never imagined they were chemical weapons."

According to an article at Global Research News written by Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh, there was no "chemical attack". Poorly trained rebel fighters supported by Saudi Prince Bandar Bin Sultan were given chemical weapons by the Saudi prince. Since they were not properly trained, they mishandled the weapons, causing them to explode. This report also favors the lower casualty figure of 355 dead (originally reported by Doctors Without Borders) rather than the highly inflated figures of 1200 and 1300 that are unsourced and yet so often quoted by the world's press. Additionally, Fars News Agency is now reporting that Russia believes the Saudis supplied these chemical weapons to the rebels and have promised to retaliate against Saudi Arabia if the United States takes military action against the Assad regime.

All of the most reliable sources seem to agree, the chemical weapons "attack" killed 355 people, including many women and children. Most of those killed are reported to be innocent civilians who lived in the area where this chemical discharge took place. The gas released into the neighborhood was Sarin gas, that has been confirmed, but the exact nature of the delivery system has not. Until the delivery system is also confirmed, it is impossible to pinpoint who released the gas. Most of the mainstream media reports include the tidbit that Assad's forces bombarded the area where the gas was released "to cover the evidence of their attack". If, in fact, the gas was released from weapons controlled by the rebels, then the Syrian attack takes on an entirely new meaning. Now, rather than attempting to destroy evidence, they are attacking a known rebel stronghold revealed by the accidental release of chemical weapons.

Do not assume that the regime is innocent in all of this. Tens of thousands of non-combatants have died in carpet bombing and arbitrary shelling of neighborhoods outside rebel control. The "crack-down" by the Assad regime is nearly genocidal in its wide-ranging, arbitrary, and deadly reach. Millions have fled the fighting and are now living in refugee camps in Turkey, Iraq, and Jordan. According to Sky News and based on an interview with Secretary of State John Kerry, the Assad regime has been planning to make such an attack for a very long time and 1,429 were killed in the attack. Now it is entirely possible that there were multiple releases of chemical weapons in a couple of days. It is entirely possible that the rebels mishandled some weapons, resulting in the death of 355, and in response or coincidentally at the same time, the Assad regime launched a chemical attack on the same neighborhood, resulting in the additional deaths. If so, then the artillery that followed the Assad regime use of chemical weapons would have been intended to either block the escape of people fleeing the chemical weapons or to herd them toward the chemical weapons.

It strikes me that the single most important lesson to take away from the events of August 21st is that there are no good guys in the Syrian civil war. The regime is sadistic and tyrannical. The rebels are sadistic and fanatic. What we have in Syria is two brutal forces in opposition. Neither side in this conflict is morally justified in the brutality of their tactics and the sadistic manner in which they are waging this war. The tragedy and mayhem this war has inflicted on the people of Syria is truly heartbreaking. The fallacy of Samantha Powers' "Responsibility to Protect" mandate is the assumption that one side or the other simply must be innocent victims and the world simply must step in to defend the innocent party from the evil doers. In the real world, war never has "good guys" and "bad guys". Not even World War Two where the Allied powers are so often written up as "good" while the Axis powers are so often written up as "evil" was not so purely cut and dried as the history books like to present. Wars are fought between two competing interests who have failed to negotiate an equitable settlement to their differences. Those competing interests are very real to both sides, and vitally important to their survival. When faced with complete destruction, people will always respond with a violent attempt to destroy their enemy before they themselves are destroyed. War is a no-compromise fight to the death between two groups who cannot conceive of surviving until they eliminate the opposition.

Stepping into a civil war is never a good idea. Stepping into a civil war between two groups who both hate you is suicide. The worst idea of all is to step into a civil war where both sides hate you in support of the side that is opposed to a third country that has spent decades waiting for an excuse to attack you. That is the scenario we have in Syria. Russia has been seeking some reason to destroy the United States ever since the division of Europe and Korea at the end of World War Two. In Syria, Russia has decided that the evil of Assad is less disagreeable than the evil of the rebels, so they are backing Assad. Russia has said repeatedly that if the United States enters this conflict in support of the rebels then Russia will attack the United States and her friends in the region. Both Saudi Arabia and Israel are targets that either Russia or her proxy Iran have declared will suffer retribution for any American involvement in Syria. This means that any attack on Assad's regime as a result of the August 21st chemical weapon release will become the opening shots in World War Three.

Russia would be a powerful enemy in the best of times. Any war fought between the United States and Russia at any time over the past century would have resulted in millions of deaths among both soldiers and civilians, possibly tens of millions. These are not the best of times. Barack Obama has shown himself to be delusional, incompetent, and blissfully unaware of the consequences of his decisions. These are the worst possible qualities to have in a Commander in Chief in wartime. Such commanders routinely throw away countless lives in unnecessary actions that have no genuine strategic value. Even worse, our military is coming out of a decade of warfare in the Middle East. While this means we have experienced fighters with firsthand experience in the region, it also means our stores of ammunition, replacement parts, fuels, foods, and even uniforms have been badly depleted. Another war in this region will stretch our logistics to the breaking point. The only reason we were able to carry on war in Iraq for so long is that our supply lines into the country were not subject to piracy or interruption by enemy forces. In a war with Russia our supply lines into the region will suffer as badly as our front line combat troops. Naval battles the like of which have not been seen since World War Two will become daily events as Russian submarines and destroyers lay waste to American and allied merchant marines. Food, ammunition, even clean water, will become scarce commodities and those shortages will generate as many casualties as combat does. Since the Russian supply lines will be overland along one of the oldest trade routes in the world, Russian forces will not suffer the same deprivations as American forces do.

As the Japanese and Germans learned so very well in World War Two, winning a war takes more than morale and "fighting spirit". Winning a modern war requires solid supply lines, mass production, and clear objectives. Any military attack on Syria will bring us into a war with a global theater that cripples our supply lines. Our mass production industrial base is now mostly in China, Mexico, South America, Southeast Asia, India, and Pakistan. Check the tags on your clothes and towels, the labels on your potato chips and fresh tomatoes. Nothing made outside the United States will be available once Russia sinks a few American ships and sends her tanks driving south through Turkey. We are no longer the industrial giant that won World War Two. Our current president is a joke who acts like a rock star and spends more time on vacation in a single year than all the vacations taken by every president since Clinton all rolled together. This is the worst possible time to be putting ourselves into a situation where we tempt Russia to act on her decades old dream: the total destruction of the United States of America.

Global Research News: Syrians in Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack
Mint Press News: Syrians in Ghouta Say Saudi-Supplied Rebels Were Behind Chemical Weapons Release
Fars News Agency: Saudis on Full Alert After Putin Threatens Retaliation
Washington Post: Nine Questions the Administration is too Embarrassed to Ask
AP Sources: Intel on Syrian chemical attack is not a "slam dunk"
CBC News: Doctors Without Borders reports 355 killed by chemical weapons in Syria
Sky News: US says Syrian Regime Planned Attack for Days