Secrets in the Time of Bush and Obama

We live in a time when Americans are dealing with many different issues related to secrets. We have  George Bush’s recent legacy of seeking agressive new agencies for the seeking out of secrets held by America’s enemies.  People of goodwill and integrity have been rightly or wrongly concerned that he also increased the number of secrets he gathered about others in America doing things other than destroying our society.
Now we have Obama and his ties to the ACORN set with an apparent love for violating the law. We know he was an associate of Weatherman domestic terrotists and and has been proclaimed as a Candidate for African Emperor of the United States by Qaddafi in the UN General Assembly. With so many things  going on we know about many wonder what his secrets may be. I think all nations at all times have issues with secrets and I am pulling up an old post on the subject for consideration. While the current issues  change, the reality of the human condition and secrecy has some real  continuity.     
The following post was first posted on my Facebook site.
 Tuesday, February 17, 2009 at 10:17pm
It is never easy to face the fact that one is nearing the end of of a long and arduous journey and has not arrived at a good place to stop. In many ways that is the situation in which I find myself. I may end up living for many years more but many parts of my life journey have already assumed a pretty permanently derailed state. I have an associate whom I reasonably believe is my half-brother whom I reasonbably believe will not live a lot longer and he is not much older than me. (Paul died earlier this year.) His existence was a secret from me for most of my life and something else I do not know might seem to show that either he is not dying or is not my half-brother but that is the way it currently looks. Paul’s dying of AIDS is not a secret but my telling of it is a revelation. It is a strange line between the intimate and private and the secret. It is in that world of secrets and confidences that I have spent much of my life.

One of my purposes in this set of notes has been to try to set down in wrting thisngs that I would not have wanted to die leaving unwritten.To set out some basic patterns and frameworks of evidence that make me feel that I have preserved some of this knowledge in a certain way and clarified some issues that might be of interest to any who might choose to use this information to follow along some intellectual or spatial path on which I have trod. However, in this note I wish to deal with the matter of secrets deliberately and specificaly. While I do not intend to open up about the vast majority of things which I have held secret I do wish to lay out some clearer paths to a few secrets that have mattered a good bit. I wish to add to the confirmable record relating to them.

I went to Law school twice and have worked in many law offices. In such places and that profession secrets and confidences are a stock in trade. In ministry as a young person I was told many secrets as well. People sought my advice about relationships, pregnancies, family problems and gangs. Because I was very young I tried to refer them when I could but always with their permission. In that youthful mempory I see an image related to that of one of the people who has inspired me to choose this topic. The very young Madison Elizabeth Holland. When I was her age I was advising young gangsterss and pregnant girls who were looking to find Jesus and some help. Her role has nothing to do with gangs or teen pregnancy but it does have to do with the world of secrets when one does not have all the links to the facts which one knows were concealed.

One of the reasons that I am inspired to undertake this note on this topic at this time is because Madison Elizabeth Holland invited me to join a group which she founded as an aid to a paper she is writing. The name of the group is “Why are People so Fascinated by the Strange/Macabre/Horrifyiing/ Alien?????” I have posted some things to the Discussion Board and that has inspired me to want to include some related insights into the next note I did. So that would be the note I am currently typing and you are currently reading at some time current to you.

In Madison’s group I posted something about werewolves and something about dragons. It is one of the many quirky things about me — that I take a real interest in the space programs and industry of our time but also have a fairly highly developed interest in both dragons and werewolves. My own Christian faith is Catholic in several senses of the word. On is that it is open to and embraces that “yearning of ALL creation as it groans in anticipation {like a woman in labor} for the revelation of the sons of God”. That is my own loose interpretation/ translation of the Pauline verse. I do not utterly renounce all the “varied and fragmantary ways” in which God has revealed himself to the Pagans as Paul assured the Aeropagus. I will not worship the Sun for example but I will see the image and fingerprints of its maker imperfectly in it as I also see them a little more perfectly in the most perfect human beings. With that point of view and with my life history it is not surprising that some secret of ancient traditions should have come to rest in my hands and head.

This is also a time when it is easy for me to think about secrets and disclosing what I can. I am at a place where I find myself letting go of everything and that is the mood and mode in which secrets are readily revealed. I am not in a clinging and guarding mood very much. There are different levels of screcy. For example, anyone can find out or be told that I once joined the Knights of Columbus. Knowing that they know that I went through some sort of secret initiation. Within the effort of disclosed materials in oublic record they know that these initiation events have the name “Rite of Passage”. Similar things are true for the Masons and a variety of other groups including college fraternities. Then there are more open groups with a few unoffical secrets and most of us can remember belonging to at least one of those if we think long enough. Then there are much more secret groups whose very existence is never admitted outside of confidence. Finally there are super secret groups who may be discussed but who most people agree do not exist and whose members alone really are sure of their existence. I have belonged to groups of all such categories.

Then there are individual secrets not directly tied to any group. We have secrets often for more than one reason. However, usually one is the most important. Sometimes thesereasons change over the years:
1. We have secrets we protect to spare friends or family from harm to all facets of their reputation.
2. We have secrets we keep to prevent prevenge for harms we have done to others of which they are not fully aware.
3. We have secrets we keep to protect ourselves or others from being marked fortheft of property, injury or death because of the valuye of a thing concealed.
4.We keep secretsbecuase we are producing something of value or importance to us or others and it is notcompleted and we do not wish it to be judged by the unfinished version.
5. We keep secrets because simply disclosing a thing in any way is emotionally painful or difficult.
6. We keep secrets becuse their are legal or social penatlies associated with disclosure.
7. We keep secrets becuse we find an environment so hostile that any and all information we release will for part of the mosaic image compiled by our enemies or adversarial forces to use against us.
8. We keep secrets because something is near and dear to us and treasuring it in solitude or with a few confidants makes it seem more special and keeps its memory clearer and apart from other memories of discussion and thirdhand accounts.
9. We keep secrets becauseknowledge of a thing provides a useful identifier of any number of things about a person or group but publishing information would make the knowledge less useful.
10. We keep secrets because for one or more of many reasons we are unable and not so much unwilling to disclose the secrets. These reasons include forgetting the secret, death, severe disability, incapactity to articulte the secret information and total isolation.

I often think of books and movies that I might allude to in these notes and do not do so. The ones that are mentioned are a small representative fraction of a much larger body of works. One movie that I have always liked is “Sneakers” starring Robert Redford, Ben Kingsley and I think Mary MacDonald. There is a cipher that the crew led by Redford must decode to be informed of the rest of password. Redford’s character and his on-again-off-again love interest are seated across some kind of table top from eachother and to find the password they start off with a somewhat nondescript phrase and using an ordinary Scrabble set they scramble the letters into all the intlleigible combinations that they can think of together. After a number of false starts they end up with “Too Many Secrets”. Not only is that the password they need but it is at the heart both of the viewer’s understanding of the movie and of the characters understanding of their predicament.

Not every life is, needs to be or should be as much about secrets as mine is but I do tend to think of life as being in large part about solving riddles and unlcking and controlling secrets. Judging from the testimony of a great deal of art and literature — many other people find this process speaks to and illuminates their own life experience as well. What I do not do much of these days is to really get involved in the internal struggle of people seeking to come to clarity about moral truth. However, I have done a good bit of that in my life. I think that there are many reasons why we are obsessed with solving secrets as a species. However, one of the reasons is that in a very complex sort of socio-biological economy we have to be aware of deceitful and lethal human bings in order to survive and pass on our genetic and cultural traits. We also have to be able to hide some tings and keep some secrets in order to survive. Then of course to varying degrees many of us are the lethaly deceitful and the ones seeking out hiding places.

In most cases the really ardent and devoted explorers reach a point when the sense of thrill with secrets is diminished and replaced with a system of categorizations, crossreferences, tactical maneuvres used to stay alive and tecniques used to record and trasmit information. Marco Polo set out with a really large group when he left Italian spheres of influence for his great journeys the vast majority of these people were dead and almost all were taken permanently off their intended course when he returned home. He was the kind of adventurer who learns many secrets and successfully reports them to his home base. Magellan and Cook are other explorers who manged both to die violently in the course of discovery and to discover and report many things to their home community and culture before they died.
Early test pilots seeking out the secret of aerodynamics often died and so did pioneeers in atomic and subatomic physics. What seems clear is that as a species it is vital that we unlock new information. It is also vital that we retain a cpacity for some kinds of privacy, secrecy and control over the information we possess. Finally even when guarded by something as nonhuman as the properties of radioactive particles there are often very serious risks whenever one seeks to unveil secrets of importance.

I think that this note is more stopping than ending. I have a great deal on my mind that I choose not to share today and in this note. If all these notes have an unfinished quality this does more than most. I think I will just stop here with an invitation to check out Madison’s group. It is open and not secret and she may close it down after she write the paper so now is the time to check it out.(I have taken over administration of this group since her departure)

The End…
Well, as the UK deals with scandals and their related secrets in the Baroness Scotland affairs and many countries deal with the secrets of the underworld and corporate privacy I hope the world does not become a place with even less room for the quiet and secret work of life which cannot occur except in secret and is vital to the future of humanity. I hope we all find those secret lodges in the soul we need to be truly human.
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