Understanding Russia and Syria

Robert S. McNamara once said that a salient cause behind the failure of American policies in Vietnam was our inability to understand the motivations of our opponents there. We understood our opponents in the Cuban Missile Crisis, so nuclear war was averted there. We did not understand Vietnam, so we failed in our goal of securing a friendly, democratic government there. We now find ourselves in a new struggle with Russia, this time involving Syria. Proper understanding of the situation there is going to be vital if we want any hope of a peaceful resolution that all parties find acceptable.

Understanding Russia is simple in this case: they need to sell gas to Western Europe to survive. A pipeline from Qatar to Turkey through an Assad-less Syria is a cut across Russia’s throat. Who does Russia sell its gas to if not Europe? How does Russia survive if it does not get money from the sale of gas?

With survival on the line, Russia will risk even war to keep that pipeline from happening. Do we in the USA understand that? Are we in the USA willing to risk even war so that Qatar can sell gas to Europe and al-Qaeda can add Syria to the list of nations it has a free hand to operate in?

Is It Necessary?

While I was in Russia, I learned that the Russians do what is necessary. Resources are limited there, so they must prioritize carefully in order to ensure survival. When they fought off millions of invading German troops, for example, was it necessary that they develop strategic bombers? No, it was not. They focused on fighters to attain air superiority and ground attack aircraft to destroy tanks. They made two of the best planes of the war that way. Was it necessary that they have nearly countless models of tanks for every occasion, like the Germans? No, it was not. The Russians made the T-34 tank, perfected it in the T-34/85, and added the JS2 and Su-122 to complete the lineup. The primary role for tanks was destroying enemy tanks. Next role was mobile artillery for ground troops. Those tanks did the job, and are considered some of the best tanks ever made, certainly the best of their day. It was necessary to make those, not others.

Is it necessary for Russian food to taste amazing? No, it is not. There is dessert, and their desserts are what tastes best. Is it necessary to mow everything? No, it is not. The grass in medians and shoulders will grow tall. Is it necessary to move large numbers of people efficiently in a major city? Yes. Moscow has one of the best subway systems in the world.

Now, Vladimir Putin is asking the USA, “Is it necessary to have a war in Syria?” It is clear that the Russians would prefer not to have one, given how they recently declared they would secure Assad’s chemical weapons. They want the USA to answer “No” to that question.

If the USA does answer “Yes”, however, what will be the Russian reaction? Well, one can see that the Russians saw it as necessary to put their fleet and some soldiers in the area before asking the question. If the USA answers “Yes”, then the Russians seem to believe that it is necessary to be involved in that Syrian war, should it happen.

And now Putin’s question is bigger: “Is it necessary to have a war with Russia?” And when a Russian asks about what is necessary, do not doubt his resolve to do what he must to in order to survive. Do not doubt that resolve, or they will drag pieces of your capitol back to Moscow and build a museum around those pieces, because in Russia, they consider that to be a necessary way to learn history. It’s quite effective.

12 Years Later…

The people that were responsible for destroying the World Trade Center and the lives in and around it are now receiving support from the government of the survivors of that massacre. They have used sarin nerve gas at least once in Syria, and may very well be tied to the latest uses of nerve gas there. The government of the USA turns a blind eye to that atrocity.

Don’t approach that issue as a Democrat or a Republican, as a supporter or opponent of the President. Approach that issue as a businessman: what does it profit us to provide aid and support to an entity that seeks our eventual destruction? Approach the issue with an appeal to common sense: what does it profit us to give more weapons and ammunition to the people that want to use them against us?

When the Russians traded their weapons for opium in Afghanistan, the mujihadin there used those weapons to shoot their opium customers. That’s when Russia lost the war there.

12 years after the World Trade Center Massacre, we are trading our weapons for al-Qaeda’s use in toppling dictators in Libya and Syria. They will shoot us, their customers. This is when we lost the war on terror.

Chemical Weapons

What should the US do about a nation that uses chemical weapons against a civilian population? This question is the one Obama asks us all in regards to the Syrian situation. My personal position is that Obama should let it slide, since I don’t want a cruise missile strike on Dubya’s house here in Dallas. His chemical weapon? I’ll choose white phosphorous, or WP.

WP is an incendiary agent. Both the Geneva Convention and the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons forbid its use against civilian targets. Because it is a highly efficient oxygen depletion substance, WP is chosen as an anti-tunnel agent: set off a WP grenade in a tunnel and it will use up all the oxygen in the tunnel, suffocating enemy soldiers in the tunnel. Therefore, WP saw heavy use in Vietnam.

It also saw heavy use in the Chechnya War, where about 20% of all Russian artillery rounds fired were WP rounds. Saddam Hussein used WP in poison gas attacks against Iranian positions. Hussein also used it against Kurds in his suppression campaign against them. In the Iraq War and Occupation, US forces employed WP against military targets in civilian areas, which is prohibited in the conventions, mentioned above. The US also employed MK 77 incendiary bombs which, although still referred to as “napalm”, are not, in fact, napalm, which allows the US to use the MK 77 and then later deny it was using napalm when accused of using the substance. Clever dodge there, but at the end of the day, it’s a nasty chemical incendiary that international law forbids in use against civilians.

Israel has also used WP against civilian targets in Lebanon. Does that mean Netanyahu has equal need to hide from a US strike as does Assad? There’s also indisputable evidence of Israel using WP against Gaza refugee camps, just in case the Lebanon stuff isn’t enough to warrant a cruise missile or two slamming into Tel Aviv.

That last sentence stops me cold. I was ready to also note Hamas’ use of WP and Saudi Arabian use of WP against Yemeni insurgents, but let’s visit that “cruise missile or two slamming into Tel Aviv.” There are real people in that city, and heaven knows they’re not deserving of a cruise missile or two, even if the head of their nation has used chemical weapons against a civilian population. Damascus is a similar city, now torn apart by a civil war, but people still live there. They don’t deserve their civil war and they certainly don’t deserve a cruise missile strike from the USA.

Even if the chemical agent in question is the nerve gas toxin sarin, I don’t think hitting Syrian civilians with cruise missiles sends the right message. When Saddam Hussein used sarin both against the Kurds and the Iranian soldiers in the Iran-Iraq War, the USA permitted those actions. He was our ally at the time, and we had knowledge of his use of sarin at the highest levels of our government. Nothing happened to Saddam Hussein until after he was done being our ally. Assad never was our ally, so he’s open to the charge.

Except… well, there’s the matter of Iraqi insurgents attempting to use sarin against US forces occupying Iraq. The attack failed, but the same guys that tried to hit us with sarin are now making up a portion of the forces fighting Assad’s regime in Syria. They have everything to gain by getting the USA involved against Assad, so why not gas a few civilians? The end justifies the means to these wretched murderers, and what’s more, they’ve tried something like this before. Why are we not investigating this angle of the story more? Yes, an agent was used, but who used it and for what purpose?

The record is clear: of all the use of chemical agents in the region, it is the USA and its allies that dominate the incident reports. Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iraq when it was an ally, and the USA itself. Now that al-Qaeda is allied to the USA in this conflict (and is this why we hear very little about the recent upsurge in violence in Iraq?), are we giving it a free pass to use nerve gas to draw the USA into a conflict that clearly no good can come from?

What should we do? Rather than talk about lobbing missiles into the homes of Arabs, how about a discussion of how Qatar and Saudi Arabia are paying for the war in Syria, providing heavy funding to al-Qaeda in the process? How about a discussion of what happens when al-Qaeda becomes an arm of US foreign policy? There is already a growing debate about the soul of the nation in the wake of the Panic of 2008 and the revelations about NSA spying. My final question is in regards to our alliance and finding common cause with al-Qaeda: does it add to that debate, or does it seal it off, providing final proof of what the USA has become?

Olive Trees

Well, according to Texas A&M University, olive trees are not well-suited for the roller-coaster climate of North Texas. While the temperature range here isn’t a major issue for mature olive trees, the range over a rapid period of time, such as going from the upper 80s to below freezing within a day or two during January-March, is what kills the olive trees, which is a pity.

So why did I come to know this about olive trees? I wanted to grow them. Why? because I wanted to understand better the allusions to olive trees in my scriptures, and I started reading about them. Olive trees are magnificent things and, if cared for, can last for centuries – even millennia. The cultivation of olive trees, in particular, is a beautiful process that lends itself to symbolism both deep and profound.

Even though I can’t grow them where I live, I can still read up on them. There’s a fantastic book I found online that I’ve started and I plan to finish it. The Allegory of the Olive Tree by Ricks and Welch explores the symbolism of the olive tree in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon, and it points out how the parable of the olive tree found in Jacob 5 (longer than, but similar to Paul’s olive tree parable in Romans 11) is such a deep metaphor for people that make covenants with God.

Which then makes me look even closer at the purported divine origin of the Book of Mormon. For, if it is difficult to grow olive trees for North Texans, it’s impossible for folks up in New York and Vermont, where Joseph Smith lived, and particularly so after the explosion of a volcano in Sumatra that plunged the globe into a short period of bitterly cold climatological variations. How would a young farmboy from New England, with no access to Theophrastus’ “Enquiry Into Plants”, know anything at all about olive tree cultivation? And yet, the account given in Jacob, which goes beyond Paul’s account in terms of detail, jives amazingly well with the advice given by Theophrastus from the classical era in regards to proper cultivation of olive trees to maximize both the quality and quantity of fruit.

Not that Theophrastus alone was an authority on olive cultivation: it’s just that a boy that learned to read from a family Bible didn’t have a rack of books at home that dealt with agricultural practices for the Mediterranean climate. And yet, the counter-intuitive and involved practice of olive tree maintenance is evident in Jacob 5. The author of that passage was not someone unfamiliar with the olive tree. The author of that passage had intimate knowledge of the olive tree and how it should be grown.

To me, it is self-evident. To others, it can be the same as I see it, or a coincidence of varying degrees of likelihood. So be it. To those interested in olive tree imagery in Jewish and Christian religious traditions, the above link contains many non-Book of Mormon related essays to be well worth reading over. There are a number of other Jewish and Christian essays regarding olive trees on the Internet that I’ve also looked over that gave me some great insights: let me, therefore, vouch for and share this resource with other people with a fondness or fascination with the amazing olive tree.

Realistic Monopoly

When I taught Economics, some people would ask if I used Monopoly to teach about monopolies. I did not. Now, though, I think I could… but I’d need some rule changes. Here they are:

1. PLAYERS. We now need 100 players. The first player is now the top 1% player. He is the banker and handles all the properties. He also gets half of all the money in the game, rounded up. The top 1% player gets the top hat. The other tokens are for the well-paid employees of the top 1%. They never pay rent on properties owned by the first player, get as close to normal an amount of money as is possible with what’s left, at the first player’s discretion, and any properties they purchase will go to the first player.

The rest of the players need to go outside and find a distinctive-looking rock. Like snowflakes, no two rocks are entirely alike, but in aggregation kind of all blend together. They keep track of their (often negative) balance on their own sheet of paper, one of their few possessions in the game.

2. PROPERTIES. Before the game starts, the first player gets to inherit property equal to half the value of all properties on the board. He may then build houses and hotels as he sees fit on any monopolies prior to the start of the game.

3. FIRST PLAYER MOVEMENT. When the first player rolls the dice, he may use them as he sees fit. He may move forward, backward, a combination of the two, or just get in his private helicopter and put his token wherever he wants to put it.

4. OTHER TOKEN PLAYER MOVEMENT. The other players with legitimate tokens move them normally, unless the first player wants them to be somewhere else, in which case he places them somewhere else.

5. MOVEMENT OF THE ROCKS. These guys move as per game rules. The exception is if they land on a railroad and decide they want to become hobos. In that case, they roll dice. If they roll doubles, they move to another railroad. If not, they are arrested for trespassing and wind up in jail.

6. JAIL. The jail is now privatized and is owned by the first player, who also exercises substantial influence over the judicial system. Neither the first player or any of his agents ever goes to jail, unless the first player decides to send one of them to jail. Players must now pay $50 to get out of jail, with the money going to the first player. Players may not languish in jail for more than one turn before paying to get out, as there is a federal court order against overcrowding.

If the players revolt and demand that the first player goes to jail, he may designate a hotel on either Boardwalk or Park Place as a jail for white-collar criminals and place his token there for a while.

7. DEBT. When the players with rocks run out of money, they go into debt by borrowing money from the first player. They can then use that money to pay the first player what they owe him.

8. WINNING. The first player automatically wins the game before it even starts.

There you go, kids! Have fun!

There Will Be Peace in the Valley

Well, I’m tired and so weary, but I must travel on
‘Til the Lord comes and calls me away, oh, yes
Where the morning’s so bright and the Lamb is the light
And the night is as bright as the day, oh, yes

There will be peace in the valley for me some day
There will be peace in the valley for me, oh, Lord, I pray
There’ll be no sadness, no sorrow, no trouble I see
There will be peace in the valley for me, oh, yes

Well, the bear will be gentle and the wolves will be tame
And the lion shall lay down by the lamb, oh, yes
And the beasts from the wild shall be led by a little child
And I’ll be changed, changed from this creature that I am, oh, yes

There will be peace in the valley for me some day
There will be peace in the valley for me, oh, Lord, I pray
And there’ll be no sadness and no sorrow, no trouble I see
Only will be peace in the valley for me, oh, yes
Yes, there will be peace, sweet peace in the valley for me, oh, yes

Song by Thomas A. Dorsey

Find the version you like best and enjoy it. My favorites are Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, but don’t overlook Loretta Lynn’s version and, of course, Mr. Thomas A. Dorsey’s rendition of his own work. If you like gospel music, but you don’t know where to start, start with Thomas Dorsey and go forth from there.

An Open Letter to the NSA

Dear massive government intelligence agency,

How are you? I am fine. I hear on the news that you seem to be busy. The report says that we have noticed a lot of chatter amongst the terrorists. There is as much, said the report, as was before 11 September 2001. That must be a lot.

My question is, if we noticed that much traffic in 2001, why weren’t we ready to do something on 11 September 2001?

I know that people who want to record all Internet and voice traffic want to have a good reason to do so, because otherwise it looks like a set of tools to preserve the power of the status quo in the face of the oppressed classes. Being able to say, “See? We have a big terror threat!” certainly looks like a good reason. I have to question if it’s an engineered solution, though, given that we are recently asking many questions regarding both its necessity and efficacy.

You know very well where I stand on this issue. I try to speak clearly whenever I’m near the lamp by my bedside. I know I’m not so good with voice activation software, but I am making an effort in this case. But if you’re going to record everything I say and do, I need to do what I can to not generate a false positive by trying to obscure what it is I’m doing.

Of course, lots of people disagree with me and they have increased their use of encryption and personal privacy measures in the last few weeks and, say… wait a minute… is it possible that the recent spike in people using tools to evade constant recording has triggered a false positive? That might be something worth checking out. I know a lot of Americans don’t want another 9/11, but there seem to be four other numbers they don’t want: 1984.

I don’t want either, but it looks like we’re stuck with one in the name of preventing the other. As I said quite clearly to the toaster the other day, I’m concerned more with survival than resistance. You know full well from what I said near the medicine cabinet that I see opposing the US government’s surveillance regime would be as wise and as successful as opposing the Soviet Union’s surveillance regime. And you know from posts here and many of my unpublished writings that only you, I, and my PC know about that I’ve researched well the KGB and what it did to those that went against it. That’s not for me, I assure you.

But at the risk of sounding sympathetic to the (potential) political dissidents using encryption now more than ever before, it’s quite possible that they are doing the same things they’ve always done, but now with encryption. They may just be using encryption out of fear and respect for your powers than they are to try and do anything subversive. If the fallout from Snowden’s revelations is the cause of the “spike in chatter,” it would be worth checking out so there’s no correlated, unjustified spike in Pakistani wedding reception fatalities.

As I’ve repeated time and again in front of my bedroom mirror, all Pakistani wedding reception fatalities should be justified. It makes you guys look bad when that happens. And, as I alluded to earlier, you’ve already got a big black eye from failing to do anything useful with the spike in chatter from 2001. It would be a darn shame – and quite embarrassing – for you guys to have made a bad call this time around because of freedom-loving Americans foolishly forgetting that loving freedom means hating security state apparatus.

I hope this helps. All I ask for a reward is that you’ll not do a false flag operation to justify all this in the likely event that I’m right and this spike in chatter is actually due to the increased use of domestic encryption. You know very well that false flag operations always get exposed, and while such exposes provide a huge boost to the tinfoil industry, they hardly do any wonders for your credibility.

So why say all this in public when you and I know full well that the ornament on the pull-chain for my dining room ceiling fan is practically a hot line to [REDACTED]? You should know by now that I do like an audience. More than that, I *do* have an audience, no matter how small, and I’d like to suggest a solution that you and they might all get along with. Why curse the darkness when I can light a candle, right?

Here’s the idea: democracy via observation.

You’ve got us all under constant surveillance, right? Why not make it work for the nation? You know exactly how many people smoke dope, right? Why not report on that, so we know where to legalize it in order to keep the people happy. Google is trying to do what you’re doing: what if you were to share your database with *them* in order to really pinpoint the right kind of ads every person would have a high rate of desiring to respond to and block all the rest? I would *want* to turn off my ad-blocker software in that case. You guys know what everyone thinks of the president and Congress, right? You could use that information to find us some decent candidates that we’d actually want to vote for in the next election. People are already using their constant tracking in cell phones to report where roads and bridges need major repairs – why not join with that popular upswelling of democracy via observation and get us the kind of government we really want?

Who’s to say that George Orwell’s vision of dystopia is the last word in surveillance? If we had democracy via observation, everyone would *want* to reveal all to the lamps beside their beds and would drop encryption like a hot potato. That way, the only people still using encryption would be either terrorists or paranoids. Or paranoid terrorists. The paranoids will be the ones that have the biggest and best weapons, so ignore them. The rest are terrorists, so round them up and problem solved!

So, to recap… you guys in the NSA could stand to have some good PR. People are afraid of you being one of several dark forces putting the USA under an Orwellian shadow. This could lead to lots of false positives in the War on Terror. I’m suggesting a democracy via observation campaign so that people will want to be under constant surveillance. Quite a few paranoids think that the NSA and associated intelligence agencies are running the US government. If they’re right, why not get us a better government?

I think you guys in the NSA are all aces, and that you can do what you have to do to pull this off. I’m sure the biometric sensors in my chair are picking up an increased body warmth that goes with the surge of patriotism I’m experiencing, so you know I’m not lying. I believe in you guys: you can use constant surveillance to give us the best democracy the world has ever seen.

Otherwise, what would be the point in having it in a place like the USA?

Anyway, I need to [REDACTED]. You guys stay [REDACTED] and say hi to [REDACTED] for me. Tell [REDACTED] that the auto-redacting software is working perfectly. Watch this: [REDACTED] [REDACTED] [REDACTED] [REDACTED] [REDACTED] mozarella [REDACTED] [REDACTED] [REDACTED] eyeliner [REDACTED]. Oops! Looks like a few things slipped through there. I’ll be happy to beta-test the next [REDACTED] of the auto-redacting software.



My Son, the Missionary

My son, Calvin, has been called to serve in the Chile Santiago South Mission. I am so excited and proud for him.

The place where he’ll be going has a climate like Northern Arizona. Santiago is a city of almost 6 million people, and Calvin’s mission will be in the Southern sector of the city plus a few outlying communities. It’s a very small geographic area.

A lot of his work will be in reactivation, it looks like. The Church had massive growth in the 80s and 90s, but anywhere from 10-20% of members there are actually active. Some members there created a system to correlate government records with Church records that had old or mistaken information to contact less-active members. The missionaries go out, find out if the people there would like to return, and go from there. Some want to come back, and they bring their families with them. Others do not, and can request removal from our records if they so desire.

There’s and estimated 250,000-400,000 members in Chile that are less-active, not dead, and potentially willing to be more involved in our faith. That’s a big number to go and find and to preach to. As Jesus taught, some seeds have fallen on rocky soil and did not grow. Some seeds fell on weak soil and sprouted, but withered in the heat. Some seeds fell on good soil, but weeds choked them out. While the seeds that landed on good soil and stayed strong have borne good fruit, it’ll be Calvin’s job to do what he can about helping those other seeds.

I’m a proud father because my son is going to commit his life to serving others for the next two years.

Strategy of Tension

Italy in the late 1960s posed a difficult situation for the United States. Voters were supporting the Communist Party of Italy, or PCI, in increasing numbers. If Communists were even a part of an Italian government, it would represent a massive failure for the prestige of the USA. Moreover, Communists in government could have led to Italy leaking NATO secrets to the Soviet Union or causing Italy to withdraw altogether.

In Italy, NATO had an organization known as Gladio. Gladio existed to engage in long-term guerrilla struggles with a regime imposed in the wake of a Soviet invasion and takeover. But there was another wrinkle: Gladio’s members didn’t have to wait around for a Soviet takeover to get into action. They could engage in resistance to the nascence of Communist and Socialist movements by engaging in what was called “a strategy of tension.”

Strategy of tension was the cool summation of a wave of false-flag terror operations, starting with the Piazza Fontana massacre. In the wake of World War Two, the USA partnered with numerous Fascists and Nazis in order to resist Communism. Those Fascists and Nazis were ready and willing to engage in violence as part of a crusade against Soviet power. Those Fascists and Nazis were the backbones of Gladio-type organizations across Western Europe, from Nazi spymaster Reinhard Gehlen’s “Gehlen Org” in West Germany, on down to Gladio itself in Italy. Fascists and Nazis are the logical conclusions of political movements in which the end justifies the means, where evil done in the name of good is considered acceptable.

And so the Italian Fascists carried out a series of bombings and murders and then blamed them on leftists, in the hopes that such terror would drive people to support centrist and right-of center parties. The strategy did not succeed: as the terror claimed lives, the PCI grew to receive a third of all votes cast in Italy. It had grown so strong that, in 1978, Christian Democrat leader Aldo Moro considered inviting them to be part of his government.

15 days later, terrorists killed Aldo Moro’s bodyguards and kidnapped him.

The terrorists demanded an exchange of persons: Moro for some of their members in prison. The Italian government under Moro’s fellow Christian Democrat – and Gladio architect – Giulio Andreotti refused to negotiate, choosing instead to search high and low for Moro’s location.

The kidnappers allowed Moro to release statements to his family and the media. Moro’s statements were highly critical of the government, and there were fears within the Gladio organization that he might reveal their secrets.

55 days after Moro’s kidnapping, the terrorists executed him.

The terrorists claimed to be part of the Red Brigade, but were they really? I don’t want to actually explore the answer to that question. I ask the question, instead, to illustrate the incredible chaos and paranoia that penetrated Italy in that day. The chaos and paranoia arose from over 2000 politically-related murders, with extremists on the left and right ready to murder and frame their opponents for the crimes. Strategy of tension.

Did things actually happen that way? Did the USA act as a prime mover behind a wave of Fascist murders in Italy? Based upon what the USA did in other nations, I’m inclined to believe so. Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, Congo in 1961, Vietnam in 1963, and so on and so on: all these and possibly more were places and years in which the USA murdered people in order to topple governments in the hopes that their chosen replacements would follow along with the script from Washington. No nation was immune to the machinations of the USA, unless that nation allowed the Soviet Union or Communist China to be the one that murdered the politicians that did not follow the bidding of a superpower.

Which leads to another question: did the USA engage in a strategy of tension on home soil? Did the USA’s leaders construct or allow through acts of terror that could be laid at the feet of dangerous extremists in order to justify legislation that made the USA more authoritarian and capable of controlling its population? Given what happened in other nations, this is a serious question. The legislation passed in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing and the coordinated terrorist actions on 11 September 2001 certainly gave greater authority to the central government. Recent experience in Syria, Libya, and Egypt shows that the USA does not hold itself above toppling governments even to this day, so I must ask that terrible question: did the USA engage in a strategy of tension on home soil?

And if it did, what of it? What can we do about it? If the government itself is one built upon the idea of justified murders, opposing it effectively would seem to be a death sentence. Working to change it from within? Congress today looks like an Italian parliament… no, destruction comes from within. Change only comes from outside pressures. Given that violence and propaganda can both silence outside pressures, we in the USA do not seem destined to have change.

Certainly not from me. If non-violent opposition makes a person look like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., or Robert Kennedy, then that’s not a path for me: My family needs me to be here for them. Violent opposition would mean becoming part of the very violence that I abhor; and when violent opposition succeeds in revolution, the violence and oppression continue unabated, even if the list of victims changes.

The world is ruled by sociopaths and blind crusaders. When I have a realization like that, I am comforted by my faith. I am comforted by my deep understanding of my beliefs and my personal experiences that confirm to me that there is a better world beyond this brief mortality. I endure to the end. There is that word, “endure.” I do not flash out with a bang. I endure. All around me is tension, pulling, tugging, grasping – but I must endure it, that I might learn from it. I have my family, I have my friends, I have my God: if my government deserts me, at least I have those things that can give me peace in my heart when all about me is a strategy of tension.