Tag Archive | tyranny

Half-Book Review: Unwind

Being a fan of Neal Schusterman’s Arc of a Scythe series, the third book of which I have yet to read, I wanted to try another of his series. Schusterman likes weighty moral topics and is a great writer for young adults. Not many authors are truly able to write YA. It’s a delicate balance between being too childish and too adult. He succeeds by simply treating his characters as people, and giving them introspection without navel gazing. Although teens and toddlers are the ages of humans in which we are most likely to act the most immature and the most selfish, these are stages of life, not a place where any human stays. Toddlers grow out of their tantrums and teens eventually get a handle on their hormones and emotions. Basically, I like that Schusterman doesn’t dwell so much on the kids being teens as he does on the societies in which they find themselves.

I really loved Unwind, but only got halfway through. Right now the topic is just too heavy for me. Unwind is set in an alternate America where there was a Heartland War with the pro-life people fighting the prochoice people. Yes, as in for or against abortion. Really don’t know why the abortionists get a pass with “prochoice.” The stance is really pro-death, not really about having more choices. Certainly not more choices for the babies in question. Anyway, in this war, the pro-life side basically ended up losing. A compromise was made that is a mockery of honoring life. Abortion is now illegal–unwed mothers and/or fathers, and or married/unmarried couples who conceive a child are required to complete the pregnancy and bring the baby into the world, caring for it as they should. However, once a child reaches the teenage years, their life is suddenly forfeit. The parents or guardians can sign away their lives, marking them to be “unwound,” or all of their body parts used in transplants to other younger or older people who need them.

This plot immediately brought to mind Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, as it deals with a similar world and plot: Clones are raised to be come organ and limb donors and everyone pretends this is okay. As the teens in Unwind are not clones, and still live and interact with supposedly loving parents who decide to unwind them, Schusterman’s world strains credulity a bit more than Ishiguro’s does. However, when considering the topic of abortion and the atrocities done to those babies, not only murdering them, but murdering them for body parts and research to improve the lives of older people not denied life, Schusterman’s world could be possible if the love of most for human life continues to grow colder and colder.

The most terrifying thing about reading this book was how normal everything was, how legal, how every i of the law was dotted, how every t was crossed. But of course that’s how it works with psychos who want to take life. Psychopaths will say they talked too loud or something, psychopath abortionists will say the babies are unwanted, or won’t live full lives. Same with euthanasia advocates. And then once the abomination is sufficiently normalized, the dotting and crossing doesn’t matter so much, and Schusterman gives us evidence of that in this world, too, as pretty much any teen can be unwound for most any reason, and one can guess that things didn’t start out that way. Even religion is in on the scam, pretending some teens to be unwound are “tithes” or “offerings,” presumably to the God Creator, but it never actually said, though the religion seems nominally Christian. Could be a revival of any number of ancient religions that practiced child sacrifice. Nothing new under the sun.

The biggest legal framework still in place with this open season on human life is the age definition. You can only kill teens, not before age 13, and not after 18. And in this way the society can pretend it still values life. And, I’m getting so worked up already, which I why I just couldn’t take anymore of this story for now.

It’s a difficult topic. There are unwanted children. There just are, and what to do with them is tricky. Do other people, not their biological parents have a responsibility towards them? Does society? Unwind takes this question a step further, do legal parents have a responsibility to raise teens to full adulthood? Does society have responsibility towards unwanted teens? They get away with all this in justifying their actions due to the teens’ behavior. Many of the teens marked to be unwound are juvenile delinquents or belligerent in some way. (One would think uncooperative teenagers were a new invention). Eugenics is put into practice by trying to weed out undesirable behaviors from society, but then there’s a requirement that all body parts of the unwinds must be transplanted and/or used on a living human being. It’s just bizarre and totally fitting, for once regard for human life is thrown out the window, everything is permissible, including illogical double think. And most likely the teens are going to find that nobody’s really following the rules. That’s it’s a free-for-all.

This book hit closer to home than the Arc of a Scythe series. Scythe, for right now, seems something truly of fantasy, but Unwind…oh, boy, it’s possible. Heartbreakingly possible. There’s a great part in the book where some of these kids marked to be unwound discuss when they think life begins. Like many, they conclude they just don’t know, but people conveniently pretend not to know things when they don’t want to deal with reality. Life begins at conception. Before conception, there is no life. It’s really not that hard, but in this society, and in ours, too, we’ve fallen so far away from actual science and truth, that it’s easy to think we really just don’t know the answer to some things. But, if we truly don’t know the answer, why not err on the side of caution? Why not err on the side of life, not death? In this society they have in part, they’ve made abortion illegal, but in wanting to stop a war, they’ve made an even bigger error by allowing the mass murder of those in a certain age group. If they were smarter, they would have picked an age group that’s not so volatile. But of course, it’s really about the body part harvesting, and for that to work the best, the young must be used.

It is my opinion that those on the side of life should not compromise with those on the side of death. Pro-death is evil. We shouldn’t compromise with evil. Even to stop a war. War is preferable to a society like this. War is often necessary to fight evil, and it’s something we forget. Time and time again I see those who are supposedly on the side of good compromise with those on the side of evil. I’m sure I’ve done it myself–go along to get along. It is a truly cowardly sin. And society moves more and more away from God instead of towards him.

Someday I hope to come back to this series and see how it plays out. Really like the life topics that Schusterman focuses on in his stuff. It makes one thing, really think about the logic and emotions behind life and death issues and human rights. Do the characters become solidly pro-life, wanting life for all, a chance for all human beings? Some probably do and some do not. Was this truly the only way to stop the Heartland War? Likely not. Likely as it is today, the society is being lied to about what actually happened and how it happened. But, the truth will out.

One additional thing: The religious tithe kid had a party, kind of like a Bar Mitzvah, and this is an idea I had too, for my vaccine story that I was working on awhile ago. In my story those kids, too, were excited to get a one-time vaccine that promised to prevent all sickness in their lives. As reality became stranger than my fiction, I simply stopped writing the story. It’s jaw dropping to me all that has happened in recent years, the trampling of life and liberty, the outright lies from everyone, the continuing silencing of the truth, the rush to coerce people into vaccinating–even against their will–and refusing to look properly at all of the negative consequences of the experiment–and it is still an experiment, not something properly approved. The quickness to forget simple truths, like sunlight and fresh air being the best medicine for respiratory diseases. Every day, I feel like shouting the mantra I created in my story to all the vaccine zealots: The Science is Safe, the Science is Sound, the Science is Settled. Say it enough times and it’s all true, right?

Okay, okay, stepping off the soapbox again. Kudos to the writer, but I just couldn’t finish the story at this time.

If Not Now, When?

Hey blogging world, I’m back again and with a perhaps controversial musing to kick things off.  Well, what’s not controversial today, right?  As I’ve finally wrestled most of my procrastination into submission, I am finally done with a good, clean first draft of Trolls for Dust, Season Two.  It will still be a few months before I publish and I have to fix some things, proofread, get a few critiques, etc., but to those of you who have been waiting for what may seem like forever to learn the fate of Harmony, Hezzy, Eva, and crew — I’ve not forgotten either about you or the story!

Ok, on with the musing:

The world is marching towards Totalitarianism which is a governmental system requiring complete and total submission to the State.  If you’ve never read 1984, now would be a really good time.  In that book, citizens not only have to do what the government says, they have to love doing it.  This march is being accomplished largely by Progressivism which embraces the State as a god and disregards morality, human life, religion, common sense, and the family all in a long grand march Forward for power.  And it is power for themselves the Progressives want, not “equality” or whatever compassionate word of the day they spout.  The most frightening thing about all of this is that few appear to see it happening and some that do just want to stick their heads in the sand and hope it will all go away.

Ever watch the cartoon Pinky and the Brain?  In each episode Pinky asks “What are we gonna do tonight, Brain?”  And Brain always responds, “We’re going to try and take over the world,” or a similar response.  The world is a lot like that cartoon in the sense that someone, some Totalitarian, some tyrant or tyrants are always trying to take over the world.  Totalitarians go under different names such as Communists, Fascists, Islamists, Progressives and the like, but they all have one thing in common:  All these ideologies require compliance down to our very thoughts, if possible.

I am writing this post today to encourage people to speak out against what’s happening, because if not now, when?  Do we do it when the thought police, yes, thought police, invade our homes in the middle of the night? (Already happened — I’m looking at you, Wisconsin).  Until our freedom of speech is threatened? (Already happening, just look up the latest weekly outrage on either the Left or the Right)  Until our freedom of religion is threatened? (Already happening)  Until we have a literal gun of the State to our heads?  I think speaking up for the truth and our beliefs (whatever those may be) is the least we can do.  The world may march onward into darkness, but we don’t have to lie down and make that march an easy one.

Don’t be afraid to speak up and speak boldly, especially with your family and friends.  You may find you disagree on more than you realized, and that’s ok.  When the proverbial you-know-what hits the fan, where the people closest to you are going to stand could be important.  It’s also important to find out why others believe what they do.  Do both sides have logical reasoning, or are both being carried only on emotion?  You may also pleasantly find that you agree on a lot, and maybe even on key things like liberty and the idea that the common man can generally rule himself and his own life.  It’s a sad world indeed we are making if two friends or family members can’t sit down and have a discussion or debate without getting ridiculously upset.  If we can discuss things with people we know, all the better for discussing and debating those we don’t know.  And, boy, do we need practice in debate.

I am a self-confessed comments junky.  I love reading online comments, especially on political articles or whatever the offensive thing of the day is.  In the comments, sure there’s sometimes a lot of meanness, but more often there’s quite a bit of humor, some good reasoning on both sides, and the comforting fact that people care enough about an issue to comment.  People do care and almost all of them have an opinion one way or another.  There’s people who see the big picture and some who see the details.  Having those people connect online is awesome.  Yeah, there’s trolls, but there’s always going to be trolls.  The biggest thing that stands out in the comments, though (and I am as guilty as the next person), is that there is often no logical argument being built, though the people arguing both think they are using logic.  I firmly believe that when it comes to making and enacting laws and/or policy, common sense and logic need to prevail.  This is especially important when challenging an unreasonable law.   Common sense (which isn’t so common anymore) is the common man’s weapon against the forces of ideological tyranny.  And tyranny most often comes from governments, so we’d be best focusing on liberty for all, worrying less about what government can do for us and more about what it’s doing to us, worrying less about the wrongs of the past and more about the ones going on right now.  (Incidentally, the U.S. Constitution is all about what the government can’t do to the citizens).

More on the subject of free speech:  It’s a terrible world we are building if we think that saying the wrong thing should mean a person be automatically fired, their name dragged through the mud, their family be terrorized by protestors on the lawn, and that they should be bankrupted, publicly shamed and humiliated all by the force of government.  That sounds more like a Maoist China than it does a free America, and it’s the environment in which Totalitarians thrive.  These days discussion and debate are being tossed on the altar of lock-step PC Progressivism which knows no forgiveness and will not stop its march even after it has won.

 Isn’t it alarming that no one can give a speech anymore without protestors trying to shout them down, not even the President?  Freedom of speech should mean that a person can at least give their speech and have their say.  It doesn’t mean they are free from criticism and negative reactions, but they should at least have the freedom to speak, don’t you think? And people may not always word things well, but can’t we get off our continual motion machine of offense long enough to see the truth of what they are trying to say?  None of us have perfect grammar, spelling, and/or eloquence, not one.

The biggest thing people are afraid of hearing is the Truth.  The Truth cuts to the heart like nothing else and can be hard to take (think anything Donald Trump said recently).  The Truth is that the world, but specifically America and the West, is barreling down a dangerous path to tyranny.  If we don’t speak up now, then when?  Do we hold our comforts, safety, and security so dear that we can barely find a voice to defend them?  Do we have such low self-esteem that being called “bigot” or “racist” when we are merely stating the truth, silences us?  And for the Christians:  Is our faith, is our God, that fragile that simply mounting a defense for freedom of religion will shatter it or Him?

Today is the day to speak up for Truth and Freedom, for tomorrow we may be silenced or worse.  All Totalitarian systems have a knack for eliminating anyone who disagrees with them.  The body count is terribly high.  For the sake of our families and children, for the sake of our fellow man, we must find the courage to at least speak out.

The good news is that more and more people are speaking out every day.  And the more people speak out, the more people speak out, making tyranny’s foothold all the more unstable, and making total power of the Progressives all the more elusive.

Book Review: Escape from Camp 14

Escape from Camp 14Escape from Camp 14 is one of those true stories that makes one question oneself.  Shin Dong-Hyuk, the titled escapee, is from the beginning presented as an unreliable narrator.  The author, Blaine Harden, is a journalist attempting to set the record straight on what actually happened in Shin’s life, as Shin has changed his story from the first time Harden wrote about him.

If we’re used to reading fiction, we as readers don’t often fully considered unreliable narrators.  If we’re citizens of affluent countries reading about hardships in other countries our expectations tend to be a desire for some kind of cathartic experience.  This is reflected in many of the reviews of the book both on Amazon and Goodreads where readers express their frustration that they did not have an emotional connection with the main character.  This is said to be Harden and also Shin’s fault, but I pose the possibility that this has nothing to do with them, but our expectations as readers.  Why do we desire a cathartic experience from Shin’s story?  Does he owe us this for some reason?  Will we have our experience and then go on and take down the North Korean government?  Will we throw money at the problem and hope it goes away?  These questions are not to blame readers, but to probe our expectations.  Yes, Shin is an unreliable narrator.  He’s human and just as sinful as both us and his oppressors.  Sometimes we forget that like any human being, victims sometimes lie, are sometimes selfish, and often don’t fit into whatever box in our mind that we’ve created for them.

Shin is a victim because he was raised in the camps, but he’s also not a victim, he’s a survivor.  He feels guilt for what he did in the camps, but all of his betrayals, right or not, helped him to survive.  He’s still trying to survive in a world where he’s expected to behave like someone who grew up in freedom.  He’s expected to be honest, but was never raised to be honest.  Yes, his lying is irritating, but does it really lessen his story?  It’s obvious he went through trauma of some kind, and I think it’s kind of morbid on our part to want the victim to recount their awful experiences in gory detail just so we can have an emotional connection.  These people are plagued by guilt and continual nightmares and we want catharsis for ourselves, just because we want to be entertained.  I ask again, does an emotional response mean we are actually going to do something about the problem, or will we think on it a day or two and move on with our lives?  This isn’t, again, to criticize, this is to be realistic.  Stories of this kind are important to be told, but for most it’s one book in a long line of books that we read in our lifetime.  So our expectations should perhaps be more reasonable.  The truth isn’t easy to come by.  It wasn’t during WWII with the Nazi camps, and it isn’t now.  Shin’s story is his story and if we learn something from it (even if the details aren’t exactly perfect), that’s not a bad thing, and in the end, he doesn’t owe us a thing.  We can criticize his way of thinking and his actions, but that’s not going to change his actions or his way of thinking.  He’s a flawed human being, just like we are.  And just like us, he knows his faults and is trying to remedy them.

Speaking of criticism, I found the paragraphs discussing the callousness of South Korea’s response to the atrocities of the North as the pot calling the kettle black.  South Korea and the United States are both driven by work, success, and the like.  We like working, want to succeed, and have done so many times over, often to the peril of personal relationships and human kindness.  This, however, does not make Capitalism, competition, making money, or the drive to succeed bad in and of themselves.  To try to succeed in life is honorable, to make something of ourselves is also honorable.  To step on others to get there, not so much, but this is something we have in common with Shin.  It’s not always an easy choice.  Our advantages often come on the backs of other’s disadvantages.  If our ally got to the barbed wire first, suffered and died because of it, is it right for us to climb over his dead body to escape?  If we survive, we feel guilty; if we succeed we also feel guilty.  We are so lost to the truth, that we can’t even be sure if our guilt is justified.  We feel guilty about feeling guilty.  Is forgiveness even possible?

As a Christian, I believe it is through our Savior Jesus, who died that we might live, who took all that pain, guilt, and pseudo guilt on himself, so we could wear robes of holiness in the eyes of God, and be saved.  It’s easy to criticize people, societies, and countries for doing nothing about atrocities, but what honestly could we do that’s ever enough?  Could tons of money solve the problem of North Korea?  Could an invasion or a takeover?  We could maybe end the camps, but can we stop the thinking that leads to the camps?  WWII ended Hitler, but it didn’t end the thinking and ideas that made his takeover possible in the first place.

These questions also pale in comparison to a more immediate problem: Claiming to care these days is considered to be moral high ground.  The southern border problems of the U.S. are case in point.  So many people claimed to care about the thousands of children coming across our border this year, but their caring (including mine) stopped at actually addressing not only the problem, but also the concerns of citizens in allowing so many to cross our border at one time and stay indefinitely.  The people with concerns got criticized harshly while those who “cared” got to act holier than thou by proclaiming how much they cared on social media.  And now that crisis has been overtaken by the latest fear of Ebola in which the same puppetry plays out.  This claiming to care, this need for catharsis from others’ sufferings, are just that old selfish human nature coming to raise his ugly head.  If we claim to care, we can feel good about ourselves, even if we will not or cannot do anything about the problem.  Same with an emotional response.  If we have the right emotional response to an atrocity, well, we must be good people even if our very next act is to go about our daily lives as if that catharsis never happened.  We snottily tell others what they should pay for, all without ever planning to give a penny of our own income.  The petty tyranny of “good intentions” is alive and well today as it always has been.

Petty tyrannies are only part of the real threat to freedom: actual Tyranny.  Put the blame where it belongs, on the North Korean officials who perpetuate this awful system of oppression and fear.  Is “the system” really an excuse for the evil men do?  Did all of the people have go along with the Nazis and their concentration camps?  They could have rebelled (some did) at the cost to their own lives.  It’s never an easy choice to do the right thing, and sometimes we aren’t even sure what the right thing is, but putting the blame on those who live in freedom is faulty at best.  The free people are criticized severely no matter which choice they make, to help or not.  Our cry of compassion should not be for others to give what they have, but for us to give what we have, for us to be the change we want to see in the world.  Even Shin, who was not taught honesty, knows this.  It’s why he struggles with nightmares and guilt, and is frustrated by those well-intentioned people who think they know exactly what he should do with his life.  It is so very easy to spend other’s time and money, to tell others what they should care about, who they should help, and to dismiss their fears.  How much harder it is for we as individuals to put our own time, money, and effort on the line!  To put our own skin in the game and struggle with the problems that can come with (fore example) a mass migration no matter the reason.  Skin in the game is why, despite its flaws Capitalism and competition are superior to both Socialism and Communism.

Even today, too many young people are still taught that Socialism and Communism are good things.  They are taught that the evilness of human nature only comes out in Capitalism, consumerism and competition.  They are taught to look at those who own businesses and make money as evil.  The young are taught this in free societies thriving on competition and Capitalism, in places where they themselves have little to no threat of the tyranny and death toll that both Socialism and Communism bring.  They are taught that those who invest should reap the same reward as the employee who is flipping hamburgers, despite the fact that the investors may have put days or years of more time into their work efforts, and also a lot more money.  Are burger flippers really in the same situation as Shin in Camp 14?  Do they honestly have no other choice but to be burger flippers?  If they “escape” the burger flipping by working harder, taking the risk to move up in management, or paying for more education, should they be chastised?  Are they climbing over their colleagues’ dead bodies to get through the electric, barbed fence?  Greed is a sin, yes, but envy is too, and “Workers of the World Unite!” is the cry of both the greedy and the envious without at least the virtue of hard work to temper it.  It is a cry that falls prey, time and again, to the tyrants of this world – and there are many.  Self-sufficiency (as apart from government) is the best way of keeping tyrants at bay.  Human nature is selfish, and those that promise a new system where everyone is “equal” or forced into equal outcomes in life, is only a cover for those tyrants who wish to have more of the proverbial pie than most.

Socialism and Communism are most often idealized by the young, because they are childish notions with little understanding of how the world and selfish human nature work.  Capitalism and Republics, for all of their faults, are for adults, those who wish to make their own paths in life and who are willing to risk failure in order to succeed.  It’s hard to force people into freedom and self-sufficiency, because they are alien ways of thought in much of modern life.  We are inundated daily with the idea that governments hold the key to all happiness for society.  But how can this be when governments are run by flawed people who are at heart selfish, and who only want to stay elected, and keep their jobs, so they don’t have to invest in another career?  Time and again, we are shown just how greedy so many officials and politicians can be with money that they did not earn and that is in no way their own, and yet we still believe the Communism/Socialism/Nazism/Totalitarian fairy tale.  True, having too much can corrupt, but so can having too little.  Envy is a different beast than greed, hiding in the deep recesses of our hearts, it gnaws away at us, a green monster to which an honest and open greed pales in comparison.  Shin is actually pretty honest in what he wants: a full belly.  He wants to eat, and eat well, and he is doing what he can to ensure that happens.  And he is also at least striving to tell his story and in some small way help those who are still prisoners of the country we call North Korea.  May God be with him in his continued struggles and help to find peace of mind and the forgiveness that all of us need so desperately.  And may God help us to put our expectations where they belong, on ourselves first and foremost, to be His hands, and His good in this world.