When I shared my political views with my parents several years ago, they thought I was a radical and an extremist. They thought it was nonsense to think that most of what the government does is unconstitutional. Eventually they realized that the main stream media was reporting the very things I had predicted months earlier. Although I now had more credibility with them (winning the presidential nomination helped) my mother often wondered how I came to know these things. It derives from an understanding of psychology more than an understanding of politics.
I spent several weeks visiting with my parents during the holidays. A recent convert to NetFlix, I wanted to watch something better than the miserable selection available on Chicago broadcast television. My mother and I watched several documentaries via the Internet, including a series on the Dark Ages, and another on the Medici family in Italy during the Renaissance. (Both are excellent documentaries produced by the History Channel.) What astonished my mother were the similarities between ancient history and modern political events. It was like "deja vu all over again"!
One of the recurring themes is that strong people take things from defenseless people. Frequently the defenseless people are slaughtered in huge numbers as the theft occurs. Time after time, the only thing that put a stop to the widespread theft and murder was a violent retaliation by the previously defenseless. I reminded my mother that Americans have purchased an addtional 85 million guns since Obama was elected, and she remembers news reports that ammunition was nearly unobtainable for nearly a year after the election. The disturbing conclusion is that Americans are now "previously defenseless", too.
The documentaries depicted a nearly total intolerance of other religions or points of view. The Muslim Turks moved north through Portugal and Spain to slaughter any Christian infidels. They were eventually repelled, but 100 years later the Christian crusades were an effort to exact revenge for the earlier atrocities. The Christian inquisition burned many people at the stake because they confessed (under torture) to various sins - or because they refused to confess (under torture) to those sins. Either way, it was barbeque time. Today, it is widely believed (whether it is true or not) that everyone of Muslim faith is openly or secretly planning to kill anyone who does not share their religion. Where have I heard that story before? Fortunately, in the United States you are welcome to practice any religion you wish - with the notable exception of Branch Dividian. Once again in Waco, Texas, it was barbeque time.
Members of the Medici family were bankers who had access to considerable wealth. They used their wealth to bribe many of the Cardinals in Rome so that a man of their choosing was elected Pope. And you thought Diebold invented fixed elections. Naturally that Pope would later treat the Medici family as a very favored special interest group. A subsequent Pope began printing indulgences that peasants could buy to eliminate or lessen the amount of time spent in Purgatory. Business was so good that the Pope decided to allow indulgences to be purchased for family members who were already dead. I realize that the Federal Reserve does not print notes promising you access to Heaven, but it does allow a trillion dollar bailout of companies "too big to fail". It also permits a two trillion dollar stimulus package to reward the crooks who created the economic problem in the first place. The common denominator here is being able to print "reality" that everyone accepts without thinking.
Finally, then as now, there are two kinds of people in this world. You may know that Galileo was accused of heresy for suggesting that the Earth moved around the Sun and not, as the Pope insisted, the other way around. Sadly, Galileo "confessed" that he was wrong in order to avoid being put to a painful death. (If anyone cares, the Pope "un-excommunicated" Galileo in the late 70's. Wasn't that nice?) In contrast, Martin Luther witnessed the printing of indulgences and realized that they were not the stairway to Heaven as promised. After nailing a list of 95 complaints to the door of the church, he was summoned to Rome by the Pope to recant his heresy or be put to death. Martin Luther was so passionate and convincing in his own defense that the jury of Cardinals dismissed his case - an conclusion that was unprecedented at the time.
So here we are, facing the same circumstances as societies before us, forcing us to decide once again, where we stand on the issues. Will you be like Galileo and confess to something you know is not true, or will you stand defiantly like Martin Luther, unwilling to lie to yourself because someone is threatening you if you don't. Of course, this is not the first time people have had to make this choice. Patrick Henry passionately explained that we have a choice between Liberty or death. Where will you stand during the coming year?