An Open Letter to Julian Assange

Julian Assange, from Wikileaks, at the SKUP co...

Julian Assange, from Wikileaks

Dear Mr. Assange,

Normally, when I write a letter to a public official here, I am writing it to point out what I perceive to be an error in their thinking, as manifested by their public statements. This letter is not to point out an error in anything you have said or done. It’s to confess errors in my thinking toward you, and to apologize to you for it.

I realize, stuck as you are inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, you will likely never see my words. In a way, you are in jail, though admittedly a rather nice one, as thoroughly as if you left the Embassy, the police arrested you, and the British courts (or US ones) convicted you. Your cage is a gilded one, but a gilded cage is still a cage, nonetheless.

When the news of WikiLeaks broke, I joined the multitudes who were rushing to condemn you. I should have known better. But I had a knee-jerk reaction of anger against someone who potentially threatened my government, my country and what I perceived was supposed to be my way of life.

In my rush to judge you, I forgot some things. I forgot a few things Benjamin

Portrait of Benjamin Franklin

Franklin said,

Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins. Republics and limited monarchies derive their strength and vigor from a popular examination into the action of the magistrates.

and

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

The second quote, a favorite of mine from Ben Franklin, should have stopped me in my tracks. As a Christian, Jesus’ words about judgement should have stopped me, too. But alas, they did not.

So, what changed my mind? It was a combination of events, as is usually the case in such things. It started with the NSA revelations of Edward Snowden. As officials in the US rushed to judge him, I wanted to thank him and shake his hand for his courage and convictions to expose the government spying on its own citizens so flagrantly. In my outrage against my government’s behavior in breaking its own Constitution, I neglected to apply it to what you did, too.

Oliver DeMille

Oliver DeMille

It continued with attending the TEAM LIFE Summer Leadership Convention last weekend in Columbus, OH. I heard Oliver De Mille speak there. He said if we wanted to change things in our world, among other things, we needed to read between the lines and discover not just what was being said, but what was meant by what was said. I failed to see between the lines with you and what you did.

Finally, I spoke with a friend there about that talk, about Mr. Snowden, and about you. It was this conversation that was the last piece in the change of my mind. It helped me to put the scattered pieces of judgmental thinking, the implications of freedom and looking between the lines together. Thinking about it was what caused me to write this public apology to you.

I am aware I am going out on a wire with my faithful readers. I feel it is something like a cross between Nick Wallenda’s Niagara Falls wire walk and his recent one over the Grand Canyon. Both times, he walked without a net, and I’m out here without one, too. But it is only out in front, on a high wire without a net, where you find leaders. So if this is to truly be a leadership blog, I must go out and lead, and take the consequences as they come. Even if it angers you, my much beloved loyal readers. I hope it doesn’t, but my conscience as a person, blogger and leader is more important to me than your opinion of me.

Because what I realized, Mr. Assange, is that you did what Mr. Snowden did. You saw something you thought wasn’t right, and you exposed it. Like Mr. Snowden, who now is a man without a country, you did it without thought to your personal comfort and safety. You lived out Benjamin Franklin’s quote on liberty and safety I so love.

So, all this is to say I’m sorry for judging you. I was wrong to do it. I realize this won’t mean a thing to you, and as I said, you’ll likely never see it. But now I know my conscience is clear about you.

I still believe your co-conspirator in the US military deserves whatever necessary discipline given to him. He broke the Uniform Code of Military Justice, his oath and his faith with his brothers in arms. These are things by which the military must stand, and must discipline the breaking of, if it is to survive. While I have sympathy for his reasons, as I do for Mr. Snowden, and I can feel compassion for the example the US government will make of him (in lieu of not having you), I cannot agree with his oath-breaking, however justifiable his reasons to himself or anyone else. He must take the punishments his misdeeds deserve.

Since I know from Mr. Snowden’s revelations the NSA monitors all blogs, including mine, I know they’re seeing this post. I want to take this time to say in my apology to you, I am in no way a co-conspirator in any plot to spy on or overthrow the government of the US or any of its officials.

I don’t like the way my country is now. But I don’t believe, “My country; right or wrong,” and I never have. I believe, “My country; if it’s not right, change it!” This post is a small part of my efforts to change my corner of it.

Best Wishes,

LeaderShift

LeaderShift

Cathy

A Boy Like You (For David)

(Philippians 2: 7)

A boy like you.

A mom like me.

Another time, another place.

Was there anyone there

Who could have guessed?

Deity born in their town.

A dad like yours.

Siblings like mine.

Another world, a different space.

Did they ever discuss it,

In just the family there?

Majesty living among them.

Schooling like yours.

Chores like mine.

Similar, and yet, very different.

Did the thought ever intrude

On their daily lives?

The Mighty God growing up there.

A room like yours.

A garden like mine.

Maybe a cat, maybe a dog.

Did they ever remember,

As she directed His ways?

The Sovereign Lord learning these things.

A Man as I dream you’ll be.

A mom – I hope to age as gracefully.

Surely they knew

As He want on His Father’s way

That God had grown up a man there.

Who Loves You, Baby?

During a recent spell of insomnia, I watched an episode of late night local television, first broadcast as a network show in the 1970’s. It was a crime drama, starring Telly Savalas as a bald Greek detective in New York City. He sucked on a lollipop and wore what were at the time highly fashionable clothes, though watching it now, 40 years later, I see how loud,  tacky and in what bad taste they were. (Shudder!)

The show, as those of my Baby Boomer generation (and classic TV fans) know, was called “Kojak.” And it was Telly Savalas’ Kojak character’s signature line with which I named this post.

I thought about it because while on break at work today, my eyes fell on a small poster in my cubicle. It came to me as an insert from our church’s bulletin, advertising some program for children and families on its other side. On the side facing me, it shows a photo of a sleeping baby, and says,

I have engraved your name on the palms of My hands.

Isaiah 49: 16

Who loves you, Baby? If we are fortunate in life, we are raised by good, loving parents, and have loving extended families. But some of us don’t get such a fortunate start. Some are loved by teachers, or coaches. For others, the process of finding love is more difficult.

Studies have shown if children are failed to be nurtured at critical times in their development, their personalities and characters may likely become warped. If children are nurtured with evil intentions, or by someone who is incapable or unfit, the potentiality of warping becomes exponentially more likely. It is from situations like these our society most often gets its sociopaths.

Many of us seek love in a life partner, and raising a family of our own. But if our society’s over 50% divorce rate is any indicator, a lot of people are not having much success in finding lasting love in long-term partnerships, let alone marriage. Marriage, as I’ve said before, takes work. Lots of work. And if the divorce rate says anything, either many people are unwilling to do the work, or they  don’t know how where to start. {See my post,On Being Married 32 Years (And Counting) for some thoughts on that.}

Which brings me back to those ancient words,

I have engraved your name on the palms of My hands.

Isaiah 49: 16

The One who spoke these words was God. In this context, He was speaking to people who believed He no longer loved them, that He’d given up on them because of the wrong things they’d done, and their people had done for many years.

Just stop for a moment and absorb those words. Think about how much love is in them. Think about how much love it would take to physically carve someone’s name in the palm of your hand, how much pain you would have to go through, how long it would take to heal. This is the language of a tattoo, a permanent mark.

Hands are some of the most sensitive parts of the organ of our bodies we call our skin. Fingertips and the heels of the hands can become callused from use, but palms are protected, and tend to not acquire them. Even when the skin of the rest of the hand is rough from exposure to chemicals or the elements, the protected palms tend to stay soft and tender longest. It is the place where we shelter small things and hold them carefully. And it is this part of Himself on which God is saying He has tattooed these names.

But do you know what the best part is? It’s not just the name of the people of that time tattooed there. It’s also ours, yours and mine. Because one of the most lovely things about God’s words is His truths never change. His love never ends. The love He showed in these words for one people is the same love He has for all people.

So, I return to my original question: Who loves you, Baby? Isaiah recorded your answer. The God of Creation, the One who holds all things in His hands, loves you. And when you realize you are loved like that, it’s easy to love others, and the love for and from anyone else becomes a reflection of the love shown you by God Himself.

The Erosion Of Freedom and What We Can DO About It

This week, June 3 to 7, 2013, has been a tough week for the freedoms we as American people hold so very dear. The worst part of it, is as I write this on Thursday, the week isn’t even over yet!

On Monday, a sharply divided US Supreme Court decided police can take DNA from people arrested on suspicion of committing serious crimes. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/06/03/supreme-court-rules-police-can-take-dna-swabs-from-those-arrested/

They didn’t decide law enforcement could take DNA from people charged or convicted of committing serious criminal acts. It’s only on the suspicion of them. So if the police suspect me of having done something criminal, even if it’s a case of mistaken identity, they have the right to take my DNA, and I have NO right to protest it being taken! They then have the right to enter my DNA into their database, where it will stay FOREVER, even when I prove my innocence.

Today it was reported the US government has been in the process of collecting the cell phone records of millions of perfectly innocent citizens’ cell phone records from the gigantic provider, Verizon Wireless. http://foxnewsinsider.com/2013/06/06/michelle-malkin-nsa-collecting-verizon-phone-records-americans

To make matters worse, this story was broken, not by American press, but by British journalists from The Guardian newspaper. The records have been, and continue to be, seized under a top-secret subpoena that was issued by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. This subpoena is valid from April 25 to July 19, and directs Verizon to give the government all its records on an “ongoing, daily basis” for ALL calls made in the US and between the US and other countries.

So, that call I made this morning, to discuss some information I learned about one of our cars with my husband, who is travelling, is in today’s list. So is the one I made this morning to my best friend and her husband, to wish them a Happy Anniversary. The call I made to our son, to let him know I was on my way home for dinner last night was on yesterday’s. So is the one I received yesterday from our mentor, answering a business question. IT’S ALL ON THE LIST.

There are also reports the US government is trying to gain access to our FaceBook accounts, private emails and all our other online records. So this post, and any likes or comments you as my dear readers make on it, would go into a database of my activity, to be held against me, should our government become, in some formerly unimaginable future, a police state along the lines of Russia or China or North Korea under the Communist Party rule.

If you’re busy thinking, “Oh, good, I’m not a Verizon customer,” or “Oh, good, I don’t have a cell phone or do much online” or something else like a misinformed person told me a bit ago, I have a reality check I’d like to cash for you: It’s not just Verizon. It’s not just cell phones or FaceBook. They just found out about Verizon this time. We already know about the internet and email plans. I’m no conspiracy theorist, believe me! I am, however, a pragmatic realist.

With our freedoms under such severe attack, what can we do about it?  One idea is to bury your head in the metaphoric sand, ignore it and do nothing, hoping it will go away. Sad to say, a lot of people doing a lot of nothing has gotten us in the mess we’re in. I also want to tell folks in this group, it isn’t going away.

Another idea is to fuss and wring metaphoric hands and make noise. This is only slightly more effective than ignoring it. However, if all you do is rant, all you’ve made is sound, and have accomplished nothing productive. We’ve had far too much of this in the past year or two on social media.

The next level of thought suggests political activism. This is fine, in its place. But as I told someone the other day, corruption is rampant on both sides of the aisle on local, state and national levels. Something more is needed.

Oliver DeMille

Oliver DeMille

Into this void, Oliver DeMille and Orrin Woodward have boldly gone with the ground-breaking book LeaderShift. It is the needed something more. In it, they tell in the form of a parable of the 5 Laws of Decline, how they have affected American society and government, and what we as ordinary citizens can do to fix it.

Orrin Woodward

Orrin Woodward

Yes, I did say we as ordinary citizens can fix this, just as the Founders were ordinary citizens. They fixed the mess in front of them in uniting 13 unhappy colonies into a more or less cohesive unit that worked together to win their collective freedom. Then, when the original government, a Confederation, wasn’t working, these ordinary men worked together again, and crafted the document that has been the beacon of freedom for people around the world ever since.

LeaderShift

LeaderShift

We can do something similar. It’s not going to be easy. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. But we have resources in social media, in information and in ease of communications that would cause the Founders’ collective heads to spin. The battle will be hard. The road will be long. But we can do it. We should do it. For the sake of the freedoms of our children and grandchildren and those generations yet unborn, we must do it. And we must do it NOW . . .

Update: According to the latest news reports, ALL cell phone carriers and ALL internet service providers are impacted with the government tracking of US records as broken with the Verizon news today.

Friday Update: Here’s the latest information. It’s everything digital or electronic. Yes, I did say everything. It’s emails, it’s blog posts, it’s FaceBook, it’s Google, it’s Amazon, it’s your land line and cell phone, your internet service provider and everything else. It’s your home, your work and your school. It’s your life. The once unimaginable life George Orwell described in 1984 has come true, 20 years after his predicted time schedule.

The Patriot Act and its extensions did it. Some of it they can do without a warrant. Some they cannot. It all depends on what they want, and from whom. And the companies didn’t tell us because the Patriot Act and its extensions have provisions that would have jailed them for treason, if they did. Here’s the details: http://www.capitalisminstitute.org/obama-steals-internet/