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First they came for the communists, but I was not a communist, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the socialists and the trade unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.
– Pastor Martin Niemoeller.

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There are 819 News Items in 819 pages and you are on page number 54

 

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The Steering Wheel Fell Off - Wednesday, April 13, 2011

 

The Steering Wheel Fell Off

David C. Stolinsky, MD
Apr. 14, 2011

Chevrolet has recalled Cruze compacts after a steering wheel fell off. The car was going 65 miles per hour. In it were a mother, a grandmother, and a 19-month-old grandson. Fortunately, the driver managed to stop inches from a guardrail.

Many people prefer to drive rather than fly. They know that statistically, driving is more dangerous. But they enjoy the feeling of being in control, though that feeling is partly illusory. A driver has no control over whether a semi jack-knifes in front of him, or whether someone is texting and rear-ends him − or even whether a poorly built car falls apart around him.

The desire to be − or at least to feel − in control is powerful. It causes difficulties in personal life and in politics. The underlying motivation of totalitarianism may be an insatiable urge to be in control.

● The temperature of the earth may have risen 0.6 degrees Celsius in the past 100 years. This is hardly alarming, since the climate in the Middle Ages was even warmer. In fact, Mars and Pluto are also warming, because of a small increase in energy output of the sun. And there are no SUVs on Mars and Pluto.

Alarmists use computer models to predict disaster unless drastic measures are taken. They want to control what light bulbs we use, what cars (if any) we drive, even whether we barbecue in the back yard. They want to control the economy as if they were Marxists. Perhaps there is a clue here.

If lowering global temperatures is desirable, there may be less intrusive ways to do so. We could alter jet airliner exhausts, or place a large satellite between the earth and the sun. Yet these possibilities are rarely mentioned. The object is people control, not climate control.

● When we hear of a murder, robbery, or rape, we ask, “Where did it happen?” We want to know if a criminal is loose near us. But beyond that, we want to avoid feeling afraid. We tell ourselves, “I don’t hang out in bars. I don’t drive a flashy car. I don’t dress like a slut. That couldn’t happen to me.” We blame the victim to give ourselves a false sense of security.

It’s frightening to realize there are people who rob the poor, carjack inexpensive cars, rape elderly women, harm children, or murder people with whom they have no quarrel. Because they want to. Because they enjoy it. Because they have no moral restraints.

Looking evil in the face is difficult. No one wants to be frightened and disgusted by looking at something ugly. But we must. Otherwise, we deceive ourselves into believing that we can control everything by avoiding risky behavior and thinking good thoughts.

● We tell ourselves that if we avoid trans fats, eat “organic” food, don’t smoke, and jog daily, we will live forever. And if we don’t expose children to second-hand smoke or sweets, and if we remove swings and monkey bars from playgrounds, our kids will always be healthy and safe.

● We delude ourselves that we will all be safe and happy, if only we ban guns, ban pesticides, ban SUVs, build no new power plants, and have airport screeners search elderly ladies and small children instead of young men from the Middle East.

● We flatter ourselves that we can control the economy of a great nation. We imagine that a few people in Washington, who often have no practical experience, are wise enough to make economic decisions for 311 million individuals − who somehow are too stupid to decide for themselves. The urge to control overcomes our knowledge that prior attempts to control an economy have ended in failure.

Many non-religious people strive to make this world perfectly safe and risk-free, because they don’t believe in the next world. Life and health are their supreme goals. They can’t blame evil for human suffering − they don’t believe in evil. When President Bush called terrorist states an “axis of evil,” they objected not because they don’t believe these states are evil, but because they don’t believe anything is evil.

The closest they come to calling some action evil is to say, “That’s sick.” People who do evil may also be sick. The sickness may be treated by psychiatry, though little success has been achieved in treating antisocial personality disorder or pedophilia. We can use what help science gives. But science is the search for knowledge of the physical universe. It has nothing to say about the moral universe. Science can describe the trajectory of a bullet, but it can’t tell us whether murder is wrong. If we want answers to the ultimate questions, we must look elsewhere.

It may be painful or frightening, but we must see reality for what it is. Most criminals hurt people because they enjoy hurting people. Not because of guns, poverty, racism, or anything else we can control. Criminals, including terrorists, hurt people because they lack good values and have bad values. It’s that simple, and that complex.

Liberals need to be in control, but the irony is that they reject one course that might actually give them some control. They oppose efforts to restore ethical values in our schools. They oppose behavior codes, dress codes, abstinence education, and posting the Ten Commandments. Then they are shocked − shocked! − when value-free education produces value-free graduates. Of course, value-free people do things that make liberals feel even more frightened and out of control. And the cycle continues.

Some liberals even see 9/11 in economic terms. They assume that people hate us not because of religious fanaticism and an urge to murder “infidels.” They narcissistically assume that everyone is like them − interested only in material things. So they assume 9/11 must have been about oil.

People crash airliners into office towers not because of what we do wrong, but because of who we are. We are free; they are totalitarians. We respect women’s rights; they see women as property, even in the next world. (Remember the 72 virgins?) We are democratic; they have contempt for ordinary people. We advocate religious pluralism; they spit on it. These issues dwarf economics, but not in the liberal mind. These issues reflect fundamental differences on the question of good and evil.

Why do many liberals have more sympathy for extremist Muslims than for conservatives? Liberals and extremist Muslims share a compulsion to control people. The same compulsion is shared by environmentalists. Liberals and environmentalists oppose drilling for oil or gas, mining coal, and building dams or nuclear power plants. But who benefits? Middle Eastern despots keep their stranglehold on oil supplies, while local totalitarians dictate how we live our lives in order to “save the planet.”

Leftists and “greens” in bed with Muslim fanatics? Strange bedfellows? Maybe not so strange. They have a lot in common – contempt for freedom and for the dignity of the individual, as well as an urge to punish “heretics.” People who want to censor conservative speech, or tell us what kind of light bulbs and toilets to use, may call themselves liberals or environmentalists, but they are would-be totalitarians. They believe they have the right to control our lives. They don’t, but they won’t stop trying.

Perhaps, when we read about the steering wheel that fell off, we will understand that with current workmanship, we are lucky to control our own cars. And we will recognize that our efforts to control the economy and the climate are futile and counterproductive. Then we will be free to concentrate on what we can control − ourselves.

Dr. Stolinsky writes on political and social issues. Contact: dstol@prodigy.net.

www.stolinsky.com


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