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Incongruent Thinking

The victor will never be asked if he told the truth. – Adolf Hitler


I find it odd that the 1985 book Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun was at the top of the leadership books to read. Attila destroyed towns, villages, walled cities, churches, markets, ports, and farmland. The Huns grabbed people, animals, loot, and land. Attila is known for impregnating (raping) all females from eight to thirty-five in every city he conquered. Standard methods of execution among the Huns were impalement, dismemberment, and crucifixion. The main points of the book? Decisiveness, Vision, Fearlessness, Delegation, Team Building, Strategic Thinking, Adaptability, Communication and Motivation. Is it time to write a book, Leadership Secrets of Adolf Hitler, or maybe Motivational Secrets of Vlad the Impaler? 


The educated historian knows that history often wears the guise of a fable shaped and molded by the day's victors in the annals of time. It is they who inscribe their narrative upon the tablets of memory, casting their deeds in a favorable light while relegating the voices of dissent to the shadows. Thus, it behooves us to approach historical accounts with a discerning eye, recognizing that behind the facade of triumph lies a tapestry woven with threads of bias and self-interest. Let us, therefore, strive to unveil the untold stories and forgotten voices that dwell beneath the surface, for in their retelling; we may glimpse the elusive truth that eludes the grasp of those who would rewrite history to suit their own ends. - Benjamin Pore.


Sunday School taught me that "King David was a man after God's heart." God stated, "I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do." Yet King David committed adultery with a woman named Bathsheba, who consequently became pregnant, and he had her husband killed. David had eight wives and many unknown concubines. Thus, should we write a book, the Passionate Secrets of King David?


I know these thoughts are irrational; however, I can no longer remain silent. Remaining silent is not consistent with a high level of integrity. History shows that both WWI and WWII could have been avoided. The inconsistencies between what the winning governments said they were doing and what they did are very different. Now we face WWIII, and should one remain silent?


Maintaining silence in the face of falsehood proves to be a formidable task in the realm of moral integrity. When silence becomes a cloak for deception, it becomes a betrayal of truth. Therefore, we must break the bonds of silence and let our voices ring out in defense of honesty and virtue. Let us not be complicit in the veiling of truth through our silent assent, but rather, let us stand firm and resolute in our commitment to speak out against falsehoods, for it is in the clarity of our words that the light of truth shall ultimately prevail. - Benjamin Pore.


It was once said by a famous Army General and American President, "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."


In rereading recent War history, I am shocked by how many facts are not taught about the World Wars. Multiple American Companies were directly supporting Nazi Germany and Imperialist Japan during WWII with the full knowledge of the US Government. Hitler agreed to allow the Jews to escape in 1933 based on a British Government agreement made with the Jews in 1917. That same British Government agreement made in 1917 was used to coerce the United States into WWI and continue the fighting. Then, in 1939, at the start of WWII, the Allied Forces were sinking Jewish refugees' ships leaving Germany.


As the drums of War are being beaten again, it's time to speak out loudly. Leonardo da Vinci once said, "Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence." I have recently been rereading my war journals. I have forgotten how much I despise War and organized religion. To those who have not felt the heat of battle, I say, do not clamor for another war. And to those who have known the fury of combat, I caution against indulging in romantic fantasies of glory.


A repost from June 2011 written in Kabul:


In the next John Boy Update – A Political, Religious, and Ethical diatribe, plus other big words that no one can use in everyday conversations. Just like in Pee Wee's Play House, when you read a new word, scream real loud!


First, strange sightings:  The sign reads, "The 24-hour sandwich bar will be closed for 30 mins every night for cleaning."  Wouldn't that be a 23-and-a-half-hour sandwich bar? Another sign on the command section's door, "This door is to remain closed at all times." I usually call that a wall; how do they get in there? 


Yesterday was one of those days I was ready to have a total depression-meltdown-thing as the events of the last couple of days started to build up, and sleep was nowhere to be found. I walked for about an hour around the compound, trying to bring myself down, and as I did, I started to think about many things I don't ever get to talk about. For several reasons, but mostly because people have their buddies, they like to talk to and not about my strange stuff.


By the time I was done walking, I could barely stand up. I left work early, around 8 PM, and watched "Back to the Future" on my iPod in bed, where I stayed until 11 AM the next day. It was an excellent recovery, and no one bugged me. I got up and went to lunch, where I ate fresh fruit and rum cake (one my sister had sent me) and did nothing significant. It's 8 PM, and I'm feeling okay and ready for bed, but I needed to capture the pain of the day before. I wish I could do this while I'm still in pain, but you can only eat so much rum cake and drink so many cups of coffee before the world goes dark; now on with the diatribes.


Political: A funny thing happened to me on the way to this War: Are there no more war protesters? They were still around when I joined the Air Force in the mid-70s. Even after the War ended in 1976, they were still protesting it – and unfortunately for those in the military, the war protestors were unable to separate the War from the Warrior. Then, at the start of the Afghan War, they were back, and by the time we started the Iraq war, you couldn't turn on a TV without hearing about what a bad thing the War was (duh) and the significant number of protesters to prove it. Heck, Sean Penn even went to Baghdad to protest. So where did they all go?


I guess I wasn't the only one asking the question because when you Google "War Protestors," you find that on 25 April 2011, John Stossel asked the same question. What did he discover?


"The anti-war movement was all over the news before President Obama was elected. But apparently, they weren't really anti-war; they were just anti-President Bush." Two college professors just released a study of national protests between 2007 and 2009.


What did they find?


·      After January 2007, the attendance at antiwar rallies [measured in] roughly the tens of thousands, or thousands, through the end of 2008.


·      After the election of Barack Obama as President, the order of magnitude of antiwar protests dropped. Organizers were hard-pressed to stage a rally with participation in the thousands or even in the hundreds. For example, we counted 107 participants at a Chicago rally on 7 October, 2009.


·      This is notable because the War in Afghanistan ramped up after Obama was elected. American fatalities shot up in 2009 and 2010.


Why would this even arise while I'm still in a war zone? In the Stars and Stripes morning paper, one of the unseen headlines on a back page read, "Taliban uses a 12-year-old boy as a suicide bomber to kick-off the Spring Offensive." What are the twelve-year-olds doing in your neighborhood?


These events got to me for some reason. It was just another news story that no one seemed to pay attention to. I overheard, "Some Afghani kid blew himself up; at least we won't have to deal with him later."


By that evening, the big news was the airstrike on Libya and the death of Moammar Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Arab. One side of Libya was cheering and celebrating his death while the other side was burning embassies. I was thinking how strange it is to be cheering over someone's death even if you don't like them. I thought these Arab countries have some strange beliefs.


The next day, we were ready for the kick-off of the morning update meeting, where everything in the AOR (Area of Responsibility) is covered in a computer briefing, so you just log into the site and watch-listen. Briefings at this meeting are given on everything from what is being built in the AOR to the current threat level. It always starts on time, except for today.


Turning on the TV to kill time clued us to what was happening. The nation was on standby awaiting the President's "Special" announcement late at night in the States but early the next day here in Kabul. We could overhear people making comments about high-level members receiving important calls (they didn't mute the conference mic) – and then the media broke the story: Usama bin Laden was dead, and the US was responsible. 


There was no need to go on high alert here because we were already on the lookout for little kids with bombs strapped on them. The strange part is what happened next caught me off guard; the front of the Whitehouse was quickly covered with people who were "cheering and celebrating about his death." (Ouch, the Wizard of Oz rings true for all humans.) 


Ironically, at the exact location where the war protesters once stood and said they'd stay there until the War was over. Someone needs to let the war protesters know that the War is not over and we're on our way to another one. Maybe they're too busy with the union protest. I miss those guys.  


A good war protestor keeps the administration honest and asks, "Do we need to be here?" A short time later, we had a response from the bad guys (Taliban, Al Qaeda, Achmed the Dead Terrorist) that said they were going to kill us (US) many more times. (No matter how many playgrounds they must clear to do it.) Hey, War protestors, are these kids not worth your time?


Here's the bottom line: I don't like this War or even believe it will make a difference to America's national security in the long run – but I'm here. Why? Because I have true convictions about what is right and will support these views even when inconvenient. It has nothing to do with whether I like who's in charge. Most people have no idea how much this War is costing the world, that alone the US (you). To quote a local Arab, "I believed in what the US was trying to do, but they are wasting their nation's treasures by not understanding the true nature of this war, and in the end, it will lead to their ruin."


To quote Winston Churchill, "Gentlemen, we have run out of money. Now we have to think." This War is still being run on brute force money with very little finesse. For the math majors, balance the last two above equations (statements) and determine what we're missing.


Religious:  I started to think about how much of this War is caused by religious differences or indifferences. According to historical accounts, we are all monotheists who believe in the same God, right? Monotheism (from Greek, monos, "single," and theos, "god") is the belief in the existence of one God, as distinguished from polytheism, the belief in more than one God, and atheism, the absence of belief in any god. Monotheism is characteristic of the Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. So, Father Abraham is the origin of all modern-day monotheism and the basis for the three main world religions.


As the story goes (in John Boy's abbreviated form), Abraham was hanging out in Haran when the true God said, "Pack your bags and head out to land that I will show you." He did. A few years later, with many obstacles and extraordinary adventures, Abraham became the father of the first true monotheist religion, Judaism. The basic premise is that he is right and has the "One true belief of the one and only God."


Judaism went on for many years as the only true monotheistic religion sticking to its guns of being right. Their last prophet was Malachi, about 400 years before Jesus. (Remember that there are no prophets after Malachi in the Jewish faith.)


Judaism continues with many who claim to be prophets, but none the Jews accept. Then, one day (some 400 years later), a Jewish man shows up, claiming to be the son of God. Once again, after many obstacles, some good recruiting, and a dramatic end to his ministry, Jesus becomes the leader of the second true monotheist faith, Christianity. The basic premise is that Christians have the "One true belief of the one and only God." So now the Jews have their belief in the God of Abraham, and the Christians have their belief in the God of Abraham, and they're both convinced they're right and the other is guy is not necessarily correct.


At this point, some of you may be asking how John can have so much time to think about this stuff, working long days and having little to no sleep. Simple OCD, with ADD and ADHD – a gift from God! I wonder why no one wants to eat with me and have a simple conversation.


Now skip forward some 570 years, and Muhammad ibn' Abdullāh is born. He's your average everyday Arab of his time. Muhammad was born in the Arabian city of Mecca; he was orphaned at an early age and brought up under the care of his uncle Abu Talib. He worked as a merchant and a shepherd. He was married by age 25. However, discontented with his life in Mecca, he retreated to a cave in the surrounding mountains for meditation and reflection. Then, 15 years later (and after a lot of meditation and reflection), at the age of 40, he received his first revelation from God in the month of Ramadan.


Three years after this event, Muhammad started preaching these revelations publicly, proclaiming that "God is One," that complete "surrender" to him is the only way acceptable to God, and that he was a prophet and messenger of God in the same vein as other Islamic prophets. Who were the "Islamic prophets?" Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Lot, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moses, Ezekiel, David, Solomon, Elias, Elisha, Jonah, Zechariah, John, Jesus, and Muhammad himself. The question here is if he used the same path back to the one God as did Judaism and Christianity, why did he start over again with Islam? Why didn't he find the same thing the other two found?


The other two forms of monotheism had the fundamental premise that their belief in the "One true belief of the one and only God," and they owned it. At the time, the other two monotheistic kids (Judaism and Christianity) were not playing nice with the Arabs and did not recognize them as needing God. Muhammad believed that since the Jews had their God and the Christians had their God, the Arabs should have their God and be formed using the Arab culture. Okay, so why didn't the other two kids not see this and put him straight?


First, let's back up some 300 years to discover why Christianity didn't impact the Arabs. The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia (present-day İznik in Turkey) by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325. The Council was the first effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom. The Christians were busy debating what they believed, and the debate was mostly limited to the area of Rome. At the same time, the Israelites continued to do what it does best, have significant augments and debates over what was met by verses or statements within the Torah, and ignore the rest of the world.


However, the most fascinating thing during this time was the considerable fragmentation that happened while all this debate was going on with Judaism and Christianity. Within their ranks, they had people who believed they had the "One true belief of the one and only God" and went out on their own. I hate it when that happens.


Even to this day, the tradition of fragmentation in monotheism continues. Not to be outdone, Islam started the monotheistic tradition of fragmentation shortly after Muhammad's death. How many different forms of God can we have and still all be convinced we're right?


Ethical:  This brought up a moral dilemma for me. How can I say that my view of God is the only correct one while pointing at the others and saying you're wrong because you do not believe the way I do? In the beautiful world of monotheism, which traces our roots back to Father Abraham, we should have a common understanding of the One and Only God – but we don't.  


At one point in history, Islam was somewhat tolerant of Judaism and Christianity, but that whole Christian Crusade thing kind of screwed that up. I know what I believe about God and think I'm right. At the same time, there are things I cannot accept from anyone else's beliefs, even if they say it "comes straight from God." Prove it. I'm an engineer, and I need proof of that. I know it's never that easy. But what baffles me more is the great contradictions in the name of religion (not necessarily a belief in God).


God loves everyone and wishes no harm befall any of his children. However, there are all these rules you must follow, and if you don't, human beings are quick to step in to help God out. In fact, in his name, they (I wish I could find these guys; those "they" which have caused a lot of problems throughout history) add even more rules, and we are asked to respect their (our) culture and religion – without question. Let's look at a simple example.


Let's use a current Islamic belief that women must wear a Burka to be respected by God. If I were to make my wife wear a bag over her head (good luck with that one) and call it the bag of the "Unknown Wife" based on my one religious belief that God gave me in the middle of the night, I would be called a cultist kook. News programs would have me on their shows and rake me over the coals, while local women's rights activist groups would be calling me insensitive and amoral. Why? Because I'm just one person with a bizarre religious belief about women and God.


Now, if this same belief is part of a religion accepted by an entire group or nation, I would be told to "be sensitive to their culture and beliefs." If I did not, the very same activist would call me insensitive and amoral for not accepting their way of life. Worse yet, they (damn these guys, here "they" are again) may send out a hit team to kill me for not believing the same way they do. That happens here regularly. My biggest ethical dilemma is, what is the best way to overcome evil in the name of God? I'll let you work that one out.


Conclusions: I've declared a "God gets the day off day." I will ask that it be a world holiday that all MUST follow. I will use 5 November (a great day, 5 November 55, not my birthday), so mark your calendars. Here's what MUST happen on that day: everyone MUST voluntarily not do anything in the name of God, for God, or to God. No prayers of request, no sending hit teams out to follow "his rules," no singing praises, no going to churches, temples, synagogues, or mosques. There is no debating about what this verse says or what was met by last week's Sunday or Sabbath school class. No rewriting of the Bible, Torah, or the Quran. No new laws or rules should be added, and no intervention should be made on God's behalf. Just leave him alone for the whole day.


Remember he said on the seventh day he rested? Ever since then, we humans haven't given him a day off. Even on his day off, we still bug him and ask for strange things. The sick will have to stay sick, and the poor will have to remain poor. Floods will have to rise, and earthquakes will have to rock and roll. The bad guy down the street will have to stay bad, and your poor lost Uncle Bob will have to remain lost on this day. "They" are not allowed to do anything, period!


Most importantly, the kids on the playground in Afghanistan can continue to play without anyone strapping a bomb on them in the name of God. Remember, we're giving him the day off. What will the world look like if we allow God to rest and let his creation run on autopilot? God's day of rest is something I would like to see.


Until next time.

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