November 12, 2022
Reflection – Behind the Halls of Power
Have you ever wondered about the halls of power? This evening my wife and I viewed Part 1 of a PBS special on the history of efforts to address climate change. It covered the period from the 1980s through the mid-1990s, long after we had left the energy business. Special attention was given to both the scientific efforts to determine what was going on and also the biased battles between government, industry and other stakeholders.
What is Really Happening?
I came away reminded of three underpinning beliefs that I adopted while assigned to Dubai Petroleum Company as its Manager of Government Affairs (where I actively participated in the setting of the worldwide price of Dubai crude oil). These are:
- Special efforts and propaganda, effectively deployed, can win over even well-grounded arguments and fact-based information. “If you say it enough times people will eventually begin to believe it.”
- The general public will never know what is really happening behind closed doors in the halls of power.
- Follow the money!
What strikes me most in considering how PBS has presented the issue of climate change is its similarity to other matters that are on today’s public mind and political agenda. For example:
- COVID. Are the shots and boosters promoted by the medical and pharmaceutical industries helpful or do they do more harm than good? The issue of “uncertainty” seems uncannily akin to that used to defer action on climate change. Can the public even know what is really going on? Who do you trust?
- Gun Control. Which legislation to control ownership of military-grade weapons would be most beneficial to the “American way”? Is it more about saving lives or is it about personal freedom? Can it be both? Follow the money in the opposing arguments.
- Abortion. There are well-funded arguments on all sides. Are any coming from a moral foundation that is agreed upon by the general public? Does a national moral code even exist anymore? What underpins the divide? Why is no one talking about what causes the need for abortion in the first place? I sense a level of “fog” in this one.
- LGBTQ+. This is surely one of the best-organized propaganda programs ever run. It is an example of what seems to be a complete overhaul of America’s moral code since the explosive 1960s. Its success has relied on all three of the points listed above, i.e., propaganda works. Legislative propaganda works especially well. Money talks.
- MAGA. Propaganda and conspiracy theories have been especially effective in mobilizing much of the population in favor of “Trumpism”. Will this strategy prove helpful or will it lead to something similar to Germany’s situation in the 1930s? Again, say it enough times and people will begin to believe it. How to separate the good from the bad?
I have a general life rule acknowledging that I do not have the technical or practical knowledge to make informed choices in much of what I am called to address. Therefore, I try to find the best help possible and then trust that help to give me good guidance. If possible, I find multiple sources of advice. For example, I trust my doctors to properly treat my medical needs.
Sometimes I seek second opinions. I used an interior decorator to help design our recently redone living room. We have a “neighborhood handyman” who helps with household repairs that are beyond my skill level. It seems to me that finding the right help is more important than trying to learn enough to make a good “informed decision”. I’ll never know as much as my doctor, decorator, or handyman. Truth be known, when trusted to my own devices I will often cause more harm than good! To think otherwise may be nothing more than folly.
Given the above, it seems that on the local or national levels, in the halls of power, it is best to focus on electing competent, morally sound individuals who will do the best they can to seek good advice and then legislate for the benefit of all. Not even they can be experts on all matters!
Personally, I do not expect to ever really know what is happening behind the closed doors of the halls of power. But I do pray that God will guide and empower those charged with looking after the general population (including me and my family).
Blessings and peace,
Disclaimer statement: Please note that the opinions expressed herein are those of the Chaplain alone and are based on his personal understanding of scripture and how God works in our lives.
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