Confusing, Competing Ideas

Our way of life is threated both by mass shootings and by clandestine efforts by foreign governments to accelerate the collapse of western coalition governments and/or  our civil cohesion.

I used the word “accelerate” instead of “cause” for a reason.

The ready availability of assault style weapons helps fuel mass shootings, though such attacks can depend on more traditional weaponry. Calls for “gun control,” despite the solid logic behind those pleas, tend to unify vocal extremist proponents of their interpretation of the Second Amendment. These gun-loving groups fear that efforts to limit access to military-style weapons are the first steps toward prohibition and confiscation. The shrillness of entreaties to limit availability of certain weapons and the demands to control access to guns in general amplify the concerns of gun advocates. There appears to be no middle ground between those who wish to control availability and ownership of guns and those who demand unfettered access. The two sides seem poised to pounce on the other at every opportunity.

News of high level Russian defections and reports of covert Russian attempts to find and neutralize the defectors is, I suspect, the tip of the iceberg. Defections are not limited to Russians, of course. A search on Google reveals a list of eighteen U.S. defectors. A more recent U.S. “defection” challenges the usual definition of the word. Edward Snowden, who leaked highly classified information from the National Security Agency, fled to Russia to avoid capture and punishment by the U.S. government; his crime was ostensibly prompted by his disillusionment with U.S. intelligence practices.

Most clandestine operations—outright spying and secret efforts to obtain intelligence on foreign governments’ plans and activities—remain hidden from the public. Our knowledge of such activities is extremely limited. But we can make realistic assumptions about such actions and programs by paying attention. It seems to me, for example, that our government’s early warning that Russia was planning to invade Ukraine must have been based on intelligence obtained through clandestine efforts. And the sheer volume of books and films about spying and other clandestine operations, while mostly fiction but likely based at least loosely on reality, is telling.

Neither mass shootings nor spying by foreign governments cause the deterioration of the prosperity and comforts we enjoy. They are symptoms. Symptoms of intense social stresses that reveal the dissolution of equality and social cohesion, in the case of mass shootings. And symptomatic of competitions between political and social philosophies between governments. The decay in our way of life is not caused by mass shootings and political intrigue. The causes are far more complex and more deeply ingrained in our society. The cohesion that we remember may not have been cohesion at all; it may have been collective concerns or fears. Do we actually “remember” a time when we were a more cohesive society? Or is our imagination tricking us into believing that our wishes had been granted?


I am tired of writing. I have spent far too long on what I have written thus far; I remain dissatisfied with it. My thoughts are not as precise and clear as I had hoped they would be. I have not been able to satisfactorily express my ideas. These words are inadequate and misleading. Time to quit while I am behind. I have strong opinions, but they may change. They often do. I see too many sides of the same issue; I understand and agree with all the competing arguments. I wish I could clutch certainty in my hands for long enough to be confident that I really believe in something. Ach! I will go have breakfast now and wonder what’s next. A haircut this afternoon. Perhaps that will clear my head.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Confusing, Competing Ideas

  1. No, Meg, the thoughts sprang unannounced, without warning.

  2. kozimeg says:

    Were your thoughts today sparked by the revelation of the FBI agent spy? It’s hard for me to comprehend a motive.

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