Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Lesson from Julian

(Pictured: Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks)

I hesitated before I waded into the water on this hot issue. But in many ways I still am not. I'm only using the broad implications in a very tangential way. I've had many facebook Christian friends, especially those who mix extreme patriotism with their brand of Christianity, blasting Wikileaks as very, very evil. I'm not here to say it is all good nor all bad. I'm certainly not foolish enough to say that the charges in Sweden are real (where real women were violated) or made up. I would have no idea because I wasn't there.

But the whole story does bring up valid points and to me, a little bit reminiscent.

I think it would take both hands and feet to count the times that I've been in the situation, which I'm about to describe. I saw it play out in the Christian circles I was in as well as the business world. It is where you notice something that isn't right in a situation. You speak to others (like other church members) and they agree. Then you are put into the situation where you are asked about the situation by the person who is responsible for it, and you answer very honestly. Next thing you know, all those who were in agreement with you, now have their heads in the sand, and you stand out a lone as the bad guy. The person who was in charge of the bad situation now targets you as the lone complainer and grumbler and no one comes to your defense.

You see, while Julian has an agenda and it is worthy to debate the merits and ills of such an agenda, it is hard to blame him for the content of what was leaked. Sure, there's some embarrassing cables and e-mails in the release. But he didn't write them. People in the State Department wrote them. So, rather than standing red faced and discussing their mistakes, lack of honesty, they focus on the whistle blower.

I knew I would get back to church on this. But take your typical church. The Evangelical versions boast of being true and Biblical. Yet, they, of all human institutions, are most insulated from self-criticism or self-monitoring. Therefore, thats why so much crazy stuff goes on inside them.

I dream of the possibility of going back to the developing world to work in health care. I would love it if some Christians were with me . . . but I would never go with a Christian organization again. The reason is, they are more vulnerable to mischief because of this wall of insulation. If you attempt to challenge the master-minds in control, they, very easily, start to use the standard guilt manipulation. "Looks like we have a complainer." or "Why are you so negative?" or "You must have some issues that make you so unhappy." Then you feel like a worm . . . a worm on his knees . . . and back away. The others, all who recognized the same problem, will side with the mastermind as you are raked through the coals.

I remember being in a Navigator training center. We were all required (as part of our spiritual training) to work for the nav leader. We cleaned his house, did his yard work, changed the oil in his car etc. I made the comment once that it is odd, that here is a guy who does not have a job, who sits at home all day doing Bible study, and meeting with people, and we, who were in demanding graduate school programs were doing all his chores. In the privacy of our house, every one agreed with me. But then once, I let it slip to the leader himself, and he made it into a spiritual issue. "This man's heart isn't right with God," he said. He told me to stop working on his yard and go home. Only those who really did it out of a servant heart should stay. Everyone else stayed but me.

It is true about my most recent church experience (not my present one). Everyone agrees that the Pastor is a dictator. Now I told him to his face and I stand alone. I'm evil. I'm the bad guy.

Honestly, if I had a blind spot in my life (and I think I have many) I would be most appreciative if someone would tell me, in a loving way. Like telling me I have a bugger hanging from my nose. I see it as a positive thing.

Maybe our government should say to Julian, "Thanks for pointing out all our hypocrisy. We're going to clean up our act from now on."


Eagle said...


No disrespect meant to you. But I still think Wikileaks is dangerous. I think that it can put a lot of US government personal in danger, military personnel in danger, etc.. Also I still believe Julain Assange to be an asshole. That will not change.

I can kind of understand what you are saying with the church going after the whistleblower while not examing itself. The church exonorates itself from a lot of issues and situations. THEY never do anything wrong. I learned that first hand.

But I still believe Julain Assange is an asshole and that his wesbite is a threat to the US government.

Nuff said...

jmj said...

No offense taken. He is controversial and I am certainly concerned about people whose lives have been endangered . . . such as informants. I was referring to the more mundane of the games diplomats play, saying one thing in public, but the opposite in private.

Steve Scott said...

"Honestly, if I had a blind spot in my life (and I think I have many) I would be most appreciative if someone would tell me, in a loving way. Like telling me I have a bugger hanging from my nose. I see it as a positive thing."

I agree with the slant of your post. I think though that having a blind spot is different than reaching a point in life where all criticism is refused and warred against. Some people are beyond correction, and unfortunately they are the ones who seek positions of power. This pastor character you've written about seems to be such a one. So may be some of these politicians so offended by Assange.

I'm learning that such people are not worth much of my time and energy (except to point them out to others), but can be changed by large corrections by God in the form of a big fall. The Pharisees never repented and it took a Damascas Road experience to get the attention of one of them.

Anonymous said...

I was referring to the more mundane of the games diplomats play, saying one thing in public, but the opposite in private.

Though most of those type of leaks were more like office gossip than anything else. You expect diplomats to NOT gossip around the office water cooler?

NOTAL said...

I think it takes a very courageous person to take a stand a speak truth to power, whether the power is that of a pastor or that of the United States Federal Government.

It's human nature for people to lie and hide their wrongdoings, even when that hurts more people. When the established facade get's challenged it's much easier to go after the person who is pulling back the curtain than to admit wrongdoing and start the hard work of correcting the root problem. As a fallen human being I too would probably do my best to keep things up on the "60th floor" where the problem is the whistle blower, not down on the "ground floor" where the problem might have something to do with my actions.
Like your old Nav leader, who insisted that the problem was with you for pointing out the abuse going on, not the with the leaders for engaging in the abuse. And like the Wikileaks ordeal, where the leaders with mud on their face insist the problem is with Wikileaks exposing the lies and war crimes, not with the lies and war crimes themselves. This is why Bradly Maning is wasting away in a solitary confinement prison cell, and the people who have indiscriminatingly killed journalists and children are still free.
The more successful people in power are of either deterring people from revealing the truth, or suppressing and discrediting those who do challenge the root problem, the longer they will be able to continue to destroy people, either with bombs and machine guns, or with unhealthy, abusive situations like your Nav experiences.

jmj said...

Who is Bradley Maning? What's his story?

NOTAL said...

Bradley Manning is the private who is accused of (and probably did) actually leaking much of the stuff to wikileaks. He's been held in solidarity confinement for the last 6 months or so waiting for court marshal.

Unlike Assange, it's likely he actually broke the law, or at least orders. And unlike Assange, who is enjoying his celebrity and sleeping with Swedish groupies, Manning is paying harshly for doing what he thought was right, and will likely spend the rest of his life in a prison cell.

Although Manning was obeying orders, obeying orders and regulations does not exempt one from moral responsibility. If one has evidence of murder and other horrible crimes it is his moral duty to break orders and release it or else he is a collaborator. Orders do not trump morality, that defense didn't work at Nurnberg, and it shouldn't work today. This is why I think he's a hero and shouldn't be forgot.