I'm impressed young grasshopper that you have found this secret message.
May 13, 2020

To Be(lieve) or Not To Be(lieve)

To Be(lieve) or Not To Be(lieve)

That is the question!

Beliefs are incredibly important.  Beliefs influence actions.  I lived in Denmark for two years due to a belief.  People vote based on beliefs.  Everything we do relies on what we believe.

You may not be familiar with my work here.  There is a small paragraph about me.

"Using the message boards, he organized the first meeting of the SLC PostMos in early 2011. It had four attendees, Kaggie included. Three years later, the average attendance on a Sunday at Kafeneio is roughly 40, and other branches of the group meet simultaneously in Lehi, Utah and Provo."
When the Saints Go Marching Out
A group of Mormon nonbelievers in Utah band together – and hunt for recruits

Pretty extreme, huh?

Why would anyone think of doing something like starting a social group to talk about their moments while leaving Mormonism?  Why not just leave Mormonism without talking about it?

Mormonism was all encompassing.  That's what religion is for a good deal of humanity.  I committed two full years, every waking hour of the week, knocking on doors in Denmark, trying to convert them to Mormonism!  This was my life.  Those moments have influenced the rest of my life monumentally.  No doubt.

I outgrew Mormonism though.  On my mission, about 3/4s of the way through.  When I talk about leaving, it came in stages.  Believing came in stages too.  And after I left, it took years to actually decide that I didn't want to be part of that religion.  Nothing against Mormons as a people - they have their personal strengths and flaws like every group.  I don't think about that religion much these days, even if I'm bringing it up now.  I am definitely very amused that an earthquake happened in Utah recently that killed no one but caused this Mormon "angel" to lose his trumpet.  That event encompasses my feelings perfectly.  It's a little ridiculous.

The angel Moroni atop the Salt Lake City, Utah, temple – who has lost his trumpet after an earthquake.

The Mormon religion doesn't directly affect my life through current events (although it has impacted my life).  It comes up when talking with my parents, but not much. I don't live in Utah.  I don't have to figure out Utah relationships. I have many new friends.  The topic comes up amongst my family and some friends occasionally, but it's an amusement for them.  

BTW, I saw this with my new friends in Cambridge, UK, a couple years ago.

Image from the film "The Breakfast Club", which may forever be a time gone by.

Mormonism has influenced my past, so influences my future, regardless of my beliefs about Mormonism. I wish Mormonism as a religion was better, because it's historical aspects... aren't great.  They could be better if they used their $100 billion saved up for charitable work actually doing charitable work. I wouldn't ever rejoin because I feel that I have grown far past what Mormonism can offer to me.

On belief though - the question of whether to believe something, anything, is incredibly important. We've seen this as institutions invest very heavily in communication channels, whether it's: any number of oil groups that fund various mainstream channels; Zuckerberg of Facebook notoriety defending himself against the US Congress for advertisements that supposedly influenced the last US election; groups that are heavily invested in deplatforming contrary opinions on any number of social media sites.

I have strong opinions about speech.  I believe that speech should be protected, when that speech does not directly call for violence.  Contrary opinions are as necessary as a weak virus to keep your intellectual immune system intact.

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution has a very strong emphasis on communication.  It is the first amendment.  It describes how we obtain beliefs:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.  United States Constitution, Amendment I

This was before even the right to bear? .. bare arms.  Communication influences belief and is incredibly important.  So important that the framers of the Constitution thought it was most important right.

A Bare Arm

We are globally interconnected in ways that may never have seemed possible before.  A single innocuous phrase can be repeated quickly, and influence nations.  And we are constantly under threat of reduced communication channels.

David Gilbert of Vice News has written:

"Dog cages, crackdowns, censorship, surveillance, expanded police powers... Authoritarians are having a moment."

"Authoritarian leaders from Belarus to Venezuela have all looked to take advantage of the outbreak and the ensuing chaos to give themselves extraordinary new powers, while elections get delayed or forced to go ahead, depending on what suits the incumbent rulers. Security forces have been empowered to conduct brutal crackdowns, free speech has been censored, privacy has been eroded."
These 30 Regimes Are Using Coronavirus to Repress Their Citizens
Dog cages, crackdowns, censorship, surveillance, expanded police powers... Authoritarians are having a moment.

Society is sensitive.  It was not many weeks ago that we could all freely enjoy a pint in a pub with friends, if we wished.  Our physical human bodies are not immortal, even though we often act as such. Society is just as sensitive as our human bodies, with the unexpected that can threaten us. Right now we are under threat of many things, such as a virus and economic collapse.  Nearly all of us have been directed to stay at home.  These directions have happened quickly.  I do not believe that our society will ever be the same.  The "new normal" is a few years off from being reached.  

Society is fragile.

And censorship can happen anywhere. Speech and communication is a necessary good and evil to help maintain a healthy society.  

Here are several ways that our voices could be restricted:

a) The ICANN was about to sell .org domains to an unknown buyer.

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2020/05/icann-blocks-controversial-sale-of-org-domain-to-a-private-equity-firm/

[Mix the reduced communication channels with a little bit of inaccurate reporting there: the title of that article is "ICANN blocks controversial sale of .org domain to a private equity firm".  It was the ICANN that was about to sell it! The ICANN didn't block it without the efforts of everyone complaining..]

b) Reddit has been largely bought by Chinese investors.  Any talk about Chinese censorship is met largely with deletion of threads.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/02/11/reddit-300-million/

https://reclaimthenet.org/reddit-coronavirus-china-censorship/

c) Facebook is no stranger either. Russiagate, anyone?

Facebook censors anything that it deems inaccurate.  Sometimes beyond that too.  

https://telecoms.com/503783/facebook-doubles-down-on-covid-19-censorship/

Fox News (like them or hate them) is often blocked by Facebook for non-controversial posts.

Pro-life, pro-gun and pro-Trump content all run afoul of Facebook’s eager hate speech censors. Just days before the annual March for Life, Facebook blocked advertising for the new pro-life movie "Roe v. Wade."
Around the Fourth of July, Facebook censored a post for “hate speech.” It was the text of the Declaration of Independence.
Conservatives like Samaritan’s Purse head Franklin Graham have been targeted, as well. Graham was suspended recently for a comment he made two years ago. Facebook later apologized.
Facebook doesn’t really believe in free speech. What they believe in (and actively practice) is censorship
Facebook doesn’t really believe in free speech. They believe in and actively practice censorship on a scale almost unimaginable a few years ago.

d) Twitter

Is Twitter Really Censoring Free Speech?
The new year has given rise once again to claims that social media sites censor certain views. The truth is that our once-neutral communications mediums are now black boxes that actively decide what we can and cannot say and the web that was to tear down censorship has made it ever stronger.

I could go on.  I might, eventually.

But, small challenges to a system help us to keep healthy systems, because these challenges force us to address the flaws in our systems.

Speech, sometimes unwanted speech (only if it's non-violent), helps us address flaws in our thinking and helps us grow.  It keeps our mental state challenged, and healthy.  It is important for us to keep communication open, even of ideas that we disagree with. It keeps us thinking.

Thinking is good for growth, because you never know what we as a species will discover.   You don't know what you don't know.  We haven't discovered what we will discover yet.

And who knows what we will one day know?

There's a secret message here too? What? Are there secret messages everywhere? Nooooooooo. Maybe. This is Josh Kaggie that you are talking about.