A UNC student drives to a gas station in Chapel Hill and has his tank filled up. While doing this the clerk spots two penguins sitting on the back seat of the car. He asks the driver, "What's up with the penguins in the back seat?"
The student in the car says, "I found them. I asked myself what to do with them but, I haven't a clue."
The clerk ponders a bit then says, "You should take them to the N.C. Zoo."
"Yeah, that's a good idea," says the student and drives away.
The next day the student is back at the same gas station. The clerk sees the penguins are still in the back seat of the car.
"Hey, they're still here! I thought you were going to take them to the zoo!"
"Oh, I did," says the student, "and we had a swell time. Today I'm taking them to our pool."
A few years ago, I addressed a gathering of sports executives from all around the globe. Afterwards, I was able to interact informally with several of them, and for some, it was the first time they had the freedom to attend such a conference. I recall in particular what was shared by a delegate from the former East Germany. Naturally I raised the subject of that country's radical transformation with the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, and asked him how the citizens were coping with this historic change.
He spoke of a deep sense of betrayal, saying "We have been lied to. They lied to us about the past, the present, and the future. "
For those of us that live in another part of the world, we realize that such terrible experiments have exacted an inestimable cost in human life and suffering. Those of us with the great privilege of liberty can only shake our heads in sorrow for those who have paid the awful price of such experimentation.
But let us pause for a moment. What about us? To what lies have we been subjected? On every side I see the neon glare of billboards, promising that happiness lies in the next car or house. The glowing square box that illumines our homes for hours each day promises a world of fantasy—from the lascivious to the lewd—if we will just stay tuned. Politicians promise that technology and communication will lead to better understanding and ultimately, peace. Lawmakers promise that innovative legislation will eradicate racial tensions and crime. Now we are promised that if we would only get God out of education and remove the Creator from the scheme of things we will all be better for it.
But the duplicity that has emerged from our leaders has left a generation of young people apathetic, cynical, and even fearful. During a survey conducted a few years ago, Canadian teenagers were asked the question, "What do you wish for most in your life?" The number-one answer was "Somebody we can trust. "
It seems that truth has become an endangered species with no guarantee of protection. As the years of our lives pass and the wonder and fantasy of youth wane, the ever-increasing demand of the mind is for the true. Aristotle was right when he opined that all philosophy begins with wonder; but the journey, may I suggest, can only progress through truth. Jesus said it succinctly—“everything earthly will pass away”—but His truth will abide forever. Do you know Him, the quintessential combination of wonder and truth? Ravi Zacharias
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Chester Floyd Carlson, although trained as a physicist, was working in the patent department of an electronics company during the Depression. Frustrated by the difficulty of getting copies of patent drawings, he spent his spare time developing an electronic dry- copying process. On October 21, 1938 he made his first successful copy using the process, which he called "xerography", meaning "dry writing". It wasn't until 1959 that the Xerox Corporation introduced a machine based on his invention. Now known simply as photocopying, Carlson's process is a universal element of office life.
So, Bob Woodward has become the latest journalist to try to influence the upcoming mid-term congressional elections with a new book, State of Denial — a harsh critique of the President and senior members of his administration whom he contends are in such a state with respect to Iraq. Woodward alleges as evidence a refusal by Mr. Bush to: recognize the magnitude of the problem there; adjust course; level with the American people; or fire Donald Rumsfeld for his supposed singlehanded responsibility for most of the difficulties we now face.
A more careful and rigorous examination of who is in denial and about what would establish that there is actually a pandemic of the phenomenon psychologists call "cognitive dissonance," whereby people don't see what they don't want to see. In fact, there are at least four States of Denial afflicting the national security debate and decision-making process at the moment:
1) President Bush's critics are by-and-large in denial about the true nature of the war we are in. They hector him about Iraq, but fail to address what Mr. Bush has been saying for some time: We are in a global conflict with a totalitarian ideology bent on our destruction.
As the President has correctly noted, the adherents to this ideology — "Islamic fascists" — did not start attacking us when we liberated Iraq. While our efforts to help deliver a powerful Arab nation like Iraq from their grasp has reportedly become a "cause celebre" for the Islamofascists, they are not interested only in defeating us there. Such totalitarians are convinced, as their Iranian front-man Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has put it, that "a world without America is not only desirable, it is achievable." Most of those who focus, as Woodward has done, on fault-finding about Iraq seem to deny that there are any connections between this War for the Free World's Iraqi front and the larger strategy of which our efforts to prevail there are a critical part.
2) The President's critics are usually stunningly silent on the implications of the "strategic redeployment" from Iraq that they recommend on varying timetables — apart, that is, from getting U.S. forces out of harm's way (at least for the moment). Indeed, they seem to be in a state of denial about the ineluctable reality that, as the recent National Intelligence Estimate they are so fond of selectively quoting observed: "Threats to the U.S. are intrinsically linked to U.S. success or failure in Iraq." In other words, those who advocate an admission of failure in Iraq may object to calling it "cutting and running," but they cannot escape the global consequences of doing just that.
3) Those who insisted that the George H.W. Bush administration cash-in the so-called "peace dividend," and then urged Bill Clinton to cut America's force structure and modernization programs even further, are in a particularly acute state of denial. They take no responsibility whatever for the contribution their past agitation has made to the U.S. military being sorely stretched by counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Their short-term answer seems to be that, by getting U.S. forces out of the former, there will be more to deploy to the latter for the purpose of "finding Osama bin Laden." Such a solution fails, however, to appreciate that bin Laden's al Qaeda is just one manifestation of the Islamofascist movement that has been cultivated worldwide for decades by Saudi Arabia and, to a lesser extent, by Iran (see State of Denial #1 above.) It also ignores the predictable compounding of the danger posed by such totalitarians far-and-wide once we concede defeat in Iraq (see #2).
4) Most Democrats and Republicans appear to be cohabiting in another, particularly worrisome state of denial: the failure to recognize and respond appropriately to a danger not present in previous Wars for the Free World — namely, the substantial presence in America of a Fifth Column of Islamofascist organizations and cells, front groups and fellow travelers.
Apart from a hearing here or there (notably, Arizona Republican Senator Jon Kyl's Terrorism Subcommittee has convened a few impressive ones) and the occasional comment from a legislator or two, neither party has been willing to date to come to grips with the strategic dangers of an enemy within.
As a result, American prisons, military units, college campuses and mosques continue to be used with impunity for Islamist recruitment and indoctrination. Organizations like the Council on American Islamic Relations that are — at the very least — sympathetic to our Islamofascist foes are charged with providing "sensitivity training" to FBI agents on how to "reach out" to Muslims. Senior State Department personnel are among the GOP and Democratic officials who regularly meet with and rely upon representatives of organizations that should be under surveillance, rather than treated as legitimate interlocutors with "moderate" Muslims. Unsurprisingly, neither party is even proposing, let alone waging, a competent program of anti-Islamist ideological warfare.
It turns out that there are plenty of States of Denial to choose from. On balance, the President and his party are less guilty of ignoring inconvenient facts and doing a better job of pursuing sensible and appropriate policies to deal with them than are their critics, whose denials of reality are transparently irresponsible and prone to costly failure.
American voters will have to choose their poison. We better all hope they vote as if their lives depend on the outcome, because indeed they do.