John Livingston

If we know who we are, we will know what to do

I am currently reading two books—one for the first time, SUCH MEN AS THESE by David Sears about Navy Corsair fighter pilots during the Korean War, and the other by George Orwell—1984 that I have read several times. Interestingly the two books have in various sections themes that overlap. They have to do with concepts of indoctrination and education. If Communist interrogators could get American POWs to believe that their fate rested only with the power that their prison guards had over them and not within their own souls, and indoctrination process could begin. In such a deceitful society everyone was looking out for only themselves—prisoners, the prison guards themselves, and even government bureaucrats. Reduced to such circumstances, duplicity was the order of the day.

1984 was published in 1949 one year before the Korean War started. Oceania (a totalitarian Superstate)—Great Briton and the USA, is led by “BIG Brother” a dictatorial leader supported by a cult of personality whose edicts are enforced by the “Thought Police”. Sound familiar? Government surveillance, historical negativism and the denial and rewriting of history and various forms of propaganda are used to subjugate individuality and personality. Liberty and “free will” are replaced by ‘THE STATE”.

The process of brain washing applied either to the individual POW or to a large population is the same. Create a crisis, create a state of dependency, offer a solution making BIG BROTHER—a prison guard or a government agency the “savior”. “ONLY I AM THE SOLUTION TO YOUR PROBLEM.” The individual is presented with the proposition that they are not the master of their own fate. These are strategies deployed in business and advertising, by government agencies, and even by local real estate developers who claim that only they can keep your community from being overrun with skyscrapers and “in fill”. In short, they—not you, know what is best for you.

In Korea, the captured Navy pilots realized that the purpose of Chinese and Russian interrogators was different. The Chinese only wanted information—tactical and strategic. The Russians wanted to indoctrinate and send out converted disciples who would then become tools for propaganda to support their political narrative. This was 15 years before Hanoi Jane Fonda befriended communist prison guards during the Vietnam War and passed a note from an American POW—John McCain, back to a prison guard resulting in further torchers being applied to the POWs.

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Uniformly, in Korea and in Vietnam the inner faith of the faithful, and a deep seeded belief in God, allowed them to place in perspective the relationship of their temporal and their spiritual realities. Similar testimonies from Nazi prison camps by Jewish Rabbis and Catholic Priests and individuals who had watched family members go to their deaths, tell us that no man or government in the end, is god. Every person has a breaking point, and I am not pretending to believe that I have the faith and ability to endure what so many POWs and prisoners in concentration camps went through, but I believe I am able to report that a faith in God’s promise, was what allowed people of faith to either survive or die in peace. I had the honor of being a medical student on ward “SOQ12” at Portsmouth Naval Hospital when 36 Navy pilot POWs returned from Viet Nam imprisonment—one for over 5 years. Almost everyone—not everyone, related to me their faith in God as being what allowed them to endure and survive. Two wrote about their experience and faith— Admiral James Stockdale and Admiral and then US Senator Jerimiah Denton. One of those Navy pilots told me that it was because he “knew who he was that enabled him to do what he did.”

A disproportionate number of these Navy pilots came from small towns and farms. They had rural roots. Others came from military families that instilled within them virtues that would first allow them to fly small planes over large empty spaces having a faith that they had within themselves the ability to do their mission and find their way back home. When they were then called upon to endure the fate of a POW—they used the same virtues grounded in faith to survive.

Last week I had a conversation with a family who was traveling around the country trying to find a college that would be the “perfect fit” for their daughter. These parents approached the education of their children as a means to an end—the end being success. And by success, I mean material and temporal success. The business of their lives from early parochial school until the present had left little room for “the silence of conscience and prayer”. Computers, iPhones, constant activity, and looking forward to a college that would provide them with the same was now the focus of their lives. Family prayer and grace over meals had become an afterthought. They seldom attended church anymore. They were seeking a “liberal arts education. This to me is very different from the traditional “liberal” education that would free one from himself, that would seek times of silence for prayer and thought, and not one of constant stimulation from outside sources. The colleges they were looking at were promising them state-of-the-art facilities, 24-hour Starbucks in dormitory lobbies, and weekend outward-bound adventures for academic credit. I asked if they asked any questions about curriculum or the professors who would be teaching their daughter and they only gave me blank stares. “They do have epic tailgate parties!”

I mention education in the context of the two books that I read, because without being able to indoctrinate our children, totalitarianism in any of its forms cannot succeed. If parents and teachers at all levels of the educational process cannot teach our children the virtues and moral predicates that will enable them to rely on themselves and not others—government agencies for example, to secure their futures, then the cause of liberty will be forever lost. Faith in God and a belief in “free will” with all its consequences both good and bad, are what built our country.

One last idea that we as parents and grandparents should consider. Teaching our children about the great sacrifices that were made by many of their ancestors in war, in crossing a great continent, in just trying to survive and provide for a family in the early years of our country, through the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, would go a long way in countering the arguments of many of their teachers and professors who try to indoctrinate them with concepts of entitlement, wokeness, and dependency. The American story is grounded in a resilience based on a faith in God, not in a belief in the “state”. How many of those teachers and professors who dwell on teaching the evils of the American story—which is not without its’ sins, but is still the most virtuous history of any country in any age, would have the courage to cross a desert, raise a family in a wilderness, or fly a Corsair or jet and land on an aircraft carrier at night in heavy seas, or survive a concentration camp?

How many of our children—or their teachers and professors, have read 1984, or Animal Farm, or Shakespeare—start with Macbeth, or The Bible—start with The Gospels, then go to Isaiah and Exodus? I can tell you that many of their forefathers and mothers have read those works—whether they went to college or graduated from high school—they were truly educated.

IF WE KNOW WHO WE ARE… WE WILL KNOW WHAT TO DO! We need another Great Awakening!

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3 replies on “If we know who we are, we will know what to do”

Great article, John. What we lack is focus on what is truly great. The people who founded this nation on Faith and honest work are no longer the focus of higher education. God left our society to the Church to finish His message of values in the New Kingdom. Without our central focus, society fails

The “Church” is no longer The Church. Organized Christian religion in what are currently called Churches is WOKE, i.e., Marxism under the cloth of Greed. Money is the new religion in organized religion.

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