I had started on an essay of similar thoughts when my computer screen was enhanced with this essay from my friend, Tom Kupecz, also retired RCAF, but residing in Trenton, Ontario, where he, now as a civilian, trains RCAF personnel not only in how to fight a war but how to clean up the mess afterwards. Thank, Tom, for saving me the time and echoing so well my thoughts:
I have somehow got on the mailing lists of some rather interesting organizations that are engaged in saving us from the nefarious forces that seek to enslave us all. The e-mails are reasonably well written, grammatically correct (something I believe is essential to good communication) and fraught with almost pathological paranoia.
Where does this fear of others come from? In a democracy, the foundation of our system is the trust in our fellows - almost anyone can run for office, except President of the Unites States (where did that come from, in a nation of immigrants?) and we trust the winners to govern us all in the spirit of the law and in good will. Well, the trust is tempered by a knowledge of human nature, hence the complicated system of checks and balances that keep the politicians from succumbing too egregiously to the lobbyists. But overall it is trust and good will that makes our system function.
But what is it that makes some people create vast conspiracy theories and inflict them on us relatively normal folk? I realize that solving a good mystery is an enjoyable pastime, and a very fruitful profession for talented (and not so talented) authors, but how can people bend reality so far in such an apparent belief in their ideas?
The latest missives try to persuade me that the horrendous massacre in Newtown was, in one of them, a hoax created by some government force bent on disarming the populace, or in another a real massacre perpetrated for the same nefarious purpose. Each claims proof in citing "facts" that are dubious at best, and ignore the overwhelming preponderance of evidence that we have seen from many irreproachable sources.
Both use history to back up their claims: Hitler disarmed the Germans so he could take over the country, Mao disarmed the Chinese, Stalin disarmed the Russians, and so on. Ignored is the fact that they actually armed and enabled hoards of paranoid citizens to cow and suppress the rest, and used the real or imagined threat of foreign aggression to keep the population in line.
I would like to believe that they are just having fun to see what reaction they can rouse, but when email@example.com writes this sort of thing: "It was a made for TV drama to try to ram through the gun control laws, because they want to kill the American people and they can't kill armed people," he goes beyond fun. And when you see the likes of Alex Jones fulminating on Piers Morgan Tonight, you might begin to wonder from whom we need protecting.
It is a matter for some concern that a significant proportion of the population of the greatest nation on earth, a country that has worked to export its system of government around the world, is so distrustful of their government and fellow citizens that they need to arm themselves to the teeth. And they have a constitution that enables them!
Do we need to train more psychiatrists?