Editorial Feb. 5, 2019

 

The fog

Please, everyone, it is state law in turn governed by the law of common sense and decency: Picture yourself driving along and your inner voice makes the statement “Wow, it really is foggy out today.”

The next thing your inner voice should say is “If it’s foggy, I should turn on my headlights.” (Perhaps your inner voice is detail-driven and wants to add to that statement “… because I want other drivers to see me as I can see them.” Whatever, it’s your inner voice, we’re more worried about the headlights than the logic.)

And then do whatever it is you do in whatever it is you drive to confirm the headlights are on. So help us, it’s not hard.

Please.

Train in the tunnel

Interesting that national intelligence and security agencies continue to report that cyber warfare is active and ongoing. Interesting that this is referred to as a “hot war,” meaning offensive measures are underway and ongoing (even as we type this), and interesting further reports – from apolitical national security agencies (plural) – that these attacks are part of a focused plan.

The plan has several facets, hacks to attempt to steal data being one, but also another type of hack, to influence public opinion.

And this later point, the opinion shaping thing, is where it gets real interesting. Sure, we have some limited reports that efforts were made in the past to influence an election outcome, but more to the point – more to the efforts – are to make people feel a certain way. Which is to say recent cyber war intelligence activities by foreign powers to influence American opinion is designed to make us, simply, not like each other.

We could go on at some length, but what it amounts to is propaganda strewn about almost exclusively through social media designed to make you feel like (a) you are part of a tribe and (b) that those who are not members of your tribe are to be disdained, not trusted, shirked.

“They are them,” the logic goes, “we are us.” Following that the “them” can never be “us.”

The reason is simple: A nation divided is a nation which accomplishes little. Those who attack us would have us accomplish little, and be comfortable accomplishing little because, after all, “those people” are in our way. (Why should we listen to those people and try to find a middle ground? After all, they are not members of our tribe.)

And how is this promoted, this social-media propaganda? Memes. Almost always the meme is of someone purported to represent the other tribe with an unflattering facial expression and surrounded by bold type expressing their other-tribe-ness.

And how is it distributed? People hit the “share” button. That way you let everyone know what tribe you identify with, and why that other tribe is worth no more than your disdain. Division grows, little is done.

Consider, then, what you’re sharing, and what force is ultimately benefiting from your action.

Psalm 33 (NIV)

1 Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous;
    it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
2 Praise the Lord with the harp;
    make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
3 Sing to him a new song;
    play skillfully, and shout for joy.

4 For the word of the Lord is right and true;
    he is faithful in all he does.
5 The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
    the earth is full of his unfailing love.

6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
    their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
7 He gathers the waters of the sea into jars[a];
    he puts the deep into storehouses.
8 Let all the earth fear the Lord;
    let all the people of the world revere him.
9 For he spoke, and it came to be;
    he commanded, and it stood firm.

10 The Lord foils the plans of the nations;
    he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
11 But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
    the purposes of his heart through all generations.

12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
    the people he chose for his inheritance.
13 From heaven the Lord looks down
    and sees all mankind;
14 from his dwelling place he watches
    all who live on earth—
15 he who forms the hearts of all,
    who considers everything they do.

16 No king is saved by the size of his army;
    no warrior escapes by his great strength.
17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
    despite all its great strength it cannot save.
18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
    on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
19 to deliver them from death
    and keep them alive in famine.

20 We wait in hope for the Lord;
    he is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
    even as we put our hope in you.