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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Closing My Mind With the Assistance of the U.S. Government

My wife and I at the Equator monument.
       I've always had somewhat of an adventurous spirit.  Travel is a great love of mine.  So you'd think when offered a trip to Ecuador I would have been thrilled at the prospect.   But under the circumstances I was not.

       Previously I made reference to "My Reluctant Ecuador Vacation" and briefly told about our trip with some photos and a video.  That document will suffice as a record of our trip.  If you missed that post and want to know about my trip then check it out.  In this current post I want to explain a bit about my reluctance to embark upon the Ecuador excursion and how the United States government added to that reluctance.

        Yes, controversy Monday comes on a Wednesday this week.

My Summer Vacation Plans

          My wife came up with the Ecuador trip plan in May.  My reaction to the suggestion was one of disappointment as we had originally planned a trip back east to New Jersey and Tennessee to visit our grandkids and my family.   Since we rarely get to see any of them I had been looking forward to this trip.  Going to Ecuador was pretty much going to mess up those plans as far as I could see.  One trip was probably all we could afford.

         My disappointment was very evident as I made it very clear that going to Ecuador was not as important to me as visiting family.  Since my wife was now set on making the trip to her home country I tried my best to get into a positive mindset about going.  I wasn't doing a very good job at this, but I tried to put it all in the most positive light I could.  I began to do research on the internet in order to prepare myself for the upcoming trip.

State Department Deception

         The website of the United States Department of State seemed like a reliable place to go for information.  What I read there about traveling in Ecuador began to make me have second thoughts about going and my reluctance on taking the trip was rekindled.  From the website I gained a perception that Ecuador was not necessarily the best place to go.  Not wanting to go probably made me read more into the website warnings than was there, but still I was seeing all sorts of cautionary flags waving before me.  Thinking more on the idea of the trip I told my wife I wasn't going to go.

           After further consideration, as I was on the web arranging my wife's flight, I decided that it would be wrong for me to let my wife go without me.  I booked tickets for both of us.  In the end I was glad that I did because it was a great trip.  While in Ecuador we encountered none of the problems mentioned on the Department of State site.  Maybe there was some fact there, but I think the dangers were greatly exaggerated.  I would go to Ecuador again if the opportunity arose and I would highly recommend the experience to anyone.

How Much Are We Being Deceived?

          My experience with this trip combined with all of the things that have been coming to light in the news of late makes me ask:  Can we trust our government?

          Actually this is a question that has been asked for quite some time by many.  In the past I've often had a sense of paranoia about our government.   Then after 9/11 I got caught up like many others in a certain aura of patriotic fervor.   My job loss in 2009 began to send me back into a sense of doubt which has been heightened in the past few years.  Government agencies instill fear of travel outside our borders while doling out trillions of dollars to dubious countries like Egypt, Syria, and Pakistan.  Government agencies are intruding into lives of individuals and organizations that are not in a favorable light with the current administration.

         There is increasing evidence that the government is spying on all of us.   For what purpose?  The sadder story is that many of us don't care much and even if we do there isn't much we can do about it.  Call me a conspiracy theorist and you'll be telling it like it is.

          What do you think about the U.S. or any other government for that matter?  Can governments be trusted?   Are we heading toward one world government domination by powers that are not in the interest of good?    What government propaganda hogwash have you fallen for in the past only to discover you've been duped?

View at the Equator Museum
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  1. Glad you went with your wife, Lee. I wouldn't care what the country, I wouldn't want my wife to go by herself.
    I think they exaggerate the warnings on purpose because most US citizens have never stepped foot outside of this country. (Which is really sad.)
    Can we trust our government? Not anymore, not after the past few years. And here our government is supposed to represent us...

  2. I'm glad you went on the holiday too Lee, especially since it means that your wife had some company on her journey. Partially agree with you about the governments though. I'm not deep into conspiracies but someday the relaxed attitude so many people, myself even included might be our undoing, more people should be more proactive.

  3. Glad you both got to enjoy it.

    Look at those clear blue skies!!! Sooo pretty.

  4. I can't comment on outside the country travel, but so glad you went with your wife and had a good time too. Great photo's - looking forward to more!

  5. The equator monument looks great. I also like the picture of you and your wife.

  6. enjoy your time away! great photo...

  7. I don't think we can trust the government. I used to think it was that you couldn't trust one party more than the other. However, over the course of the past few years, I've come to the conclusion that the government is full of self-interested weasels from ALL parties.
    By the way, an equator monument. How cool. When I lived in Iceland, we had the chance to stand astride the Arctic Circle. No monument and it wasn't as cold as you might expect. But cool (no pun intended) nonetheless.

  8. Alex-- My wife would have been with her daughter and her husband even if I'd had stayed, but it still seemed like going with her was my duty. As far as government representation I think officials are mostly in office to represent themselves and the special interests of those who provide them funds to stay in office.

    Yeamie -- It's easier to do nothing than to be proactive and sometimes there's not much realistic alternative.

    Scot's Lass-- We had great weather while in Ecuador.

    Yolanda -- This has been my most major out of the country excursion so far.

    Rachna -- The monument is kind of a hyped tourist experience, but it's a must visit place when in Ecuador.

    Jeremy -- I try to enjoy life despite the forces that would interfere with that enjoyment.


  9. Al -- Your assessment of the government is spot on in my opinion. I'd like to visit Iceland. Seems like the experience would be the polar opposite of what I saw in Ecuador :>


  10. I have no strong opinion about this topic. But I can't imagine why you wouldn't trust the United States government. This is the greatest nation on Earth, we have freedom that the rest of the world envies. The Middle East hates us because of our freedom, didn't you know that?

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  11. Hey Lee! I love the pics. It would be cool to go to the equator, but I know I never will because I just can't stand that level of heat.
    I can't think of many things more horrible than wandering around in a jungle of tourists, in an actual jungle. My anti-heat sentiments aside, looks like you had a great time.
    As for conspiracy theories, I never believe them. I think all democratic governments warn their citizenry of potential dangers in foreign countries.
    I know here in Canada we were warned of potential danger in Mexico when a rash of Canadians were murdered there a few years back. I remember thinking that it was a good thing I've never wanted to go to Mexico!
    Maybe they do exaggerate the dangers, just like the warnings on bottles of medication. You probably won't get any of the side effects, but they have to cover their asses and tell you about, maybe the government is like a big bottle of Little Purple Pills?
    Glad you had a good time regardless of your government, good to see you back here!

  12. I don't think I've ever been brainwashed by government propaganda, per se, but I was definitely taken in by societal propaganda about our country when I was a kid. I'm pretty sure I was the most patriotic kid in my elementary school, and I believed all of that garbage about the founding fathers and the great American revolution. I started figuring out the truth in middle school and, by high school, was completely disillusioned.

    At this point, I've come to look at the revolution for what it really was, a rich, white man's war that most of the "country" wasn't behind. Like with everything else, it was about the money; freedom was just the excuse.

  13. LOL @ Stephen T. McCarthy's comment. Since I started reading his blog, my ideas about how this government really runs has undergone a major overhaul. So, I agree with what he says;)

    Just watch The Housewives of New Jersey. Everything will be a-okay.

  14. Most governments seem to be run like businesses these day. No longer are they working for the average person.

    Governments which are left to their own cognisance generally lean toward corruption and lining the politicians' and their cronies' pockets. Evidence: all the corruption scandals coming out of Montreal. Canada has its share of problems too with dysfunctional politicians.

    People should care more than they do.

  15. StMc-- You probably need to become more informed. Try reading some good books on the subject. Maybe you can recommend good ones on your blog.

    Eve- Guess what. The climate was very pleasant and temperate. We were not in jungles like you see in the movies. You are probably right to a degree about government and other information sources trying to cover their collective asses, but government may also have an agenda. I'm suspicious.

    Andrew -- I think you are right to a degree, but I do think there was a legitimate idealistic cause in the minds of some. However, at this point I find it difficult to believe much of anything I hear since information is almost always biased.

    Robin -- Stephen has been a big influence on my thinking as well. And don't get me started on television. That's a topic for another day.

    DG -- It's so difficult to care for most of us. And as long as our own needs are met to at least a degree we are somewhat content not to make waves. Entitlements anyone?


  16. Having originated in England, travelled Europe quite a bit and then ended up in Canada and then travelled a fair bit on this side of the world, I love to travel as does hubby, although he always says he would never go to Mexico or South Africa, too dangerous. I think in both cases the warnings and events are over hyped by the press or government I am not sure, although it is a fact that a number of Canadians have died in Mexico.

    Matt and I both believe politicians are corrupt.

  17. We are currently going through Federal elections here and it seems that distrust of Government is at an all time high. There has been too much politics and not enough governance, but also fundamentally there is a credibility gap between what Government says and what its players do. When there is a gap like that there is bound to be distrust.

  18. Well hello, I haven't been good about keeping up with things in the blogosphere, but your article really caught my eye!

    I am happy that your both enjoyed your trip very much! Glad you decided to go too! Not good to let Mrs. travel alone these days...and if you really weren't going to go, then at least have a close friend go with her....but you went and had a grand time!

    Now...No, I do not trust our government. It has truly turned into 'wolf' dressed in sheep's clothing. I will also no longer participate in the voting process, one in which I have participated in year after year.

    Our leader is a 'socialist'. Most know it, may not say it. He is going to destroy this country, bit by bit. I am years of age, and have never seen this country in the sorry shape it is in today. I too, lost a job, found work, that job went overseas, found work, and quit to take care of my mother. I decided to...wish I hadn't but did...take early S.S., looking for pt. time work, and there simply is not anything at present...for me. I am not giving up however.

    I do not care for this party crap we have in our government, and that all needs to change. We need to have people running DC with business minds. Our country is a business per say, and it should be run as one with some people that are interested and not just for the perks. Additionally, they all tout 'public service'....let them in these positions get paid minimum to much lower wages without perks that are run up the gazoo of the tax payer.

    I don't care if they want to read or listen in to what I have to say....I just wonder why while they were much has taken place and still is to current.

    They will tell the "American People" anything they want...what we would like to hear and do the complete opposite.

    If I win a lotto...better go buy a ticket first. I will leave this country. I do not want to live in a socialist country, and those that do will be the first ones to squeal when they learn what it is all about, their chosen one will be a huge disappointment and so on.

    I do not want to see Hillary as a president. She didn't do her job as Sec. of State, they just kept her busy, out of the country because the "Obamas" didn't want her sniffing around their WH.

    I know they will try to find someone sympathetic to Hispanics, gay marriage, women's health rights, blacks, and so on...who? Who knows, and to be honest I no longer care.

    I think the leader from behind is enjoying his position in life and getting to do things not possible in a private life in it up at the tax payers expense. Not doing much else.

    My opinion, I could go on...but burning out thinking about Obama. I can't stand the name, he is everywhere. I have never heard or seen anything like it in my life.


  19. Trust the government? NO!
    I hear and see people go on and on about how much freer we are. Please. We are only as free as the government allows us to be. We lose more and more freedoms all the time and from talking with people from other countries, they have freedoms that we lost a long time ago. Ecuador looks beautiful! I am glad you had a good trip.

  20. Really thought-provoking post, Lee. My recent trip to Honduras (Roatan in the Bay Islands) gave me pause at first until discussing the country with others who were going back for a second or third time. I had no worries at all while there.

    In November my wife and I are traveling to the Philippines. This is a different ball game and I man researching as you did. I nixed the idea of staying on another week in Manilla because I don't trust the stability of the region.

    You bring up several valid points about the government, Big Brother, and propaganda. I have chosen not to read any government site for any of my trips for precisely the reasons you state.

    I'll let you know how it turns out!

  21. At the end of the day we have to make our own decisions. Government has proven themselves less than trustworthy on many fronts. I'm glad to be from Jamaica where healthy skepticism of those in charge isn't seen as unpatriotic.

  22. Hi Arlee. I was surprised to read this as I find most Americans don't diss their government much. However, most of the US's allies (such as Oz) consider the 'American People' are kept in fear and 9/11 certainly unleased that fear. Why go in and bomb the blazes out of Afghanistan when it was Pakistan and Saudi Arabia who were harbouring Osama Bin Laden?

    Travel recommendations are really strange and of course politically motivated. The Oz govt. doesn't recommend travelling to Fiji (because they refuse to become a democracy). I was expecting machine guns at the airport and the military everywhere, but only saw two army guys in the 6 weeks I was there - they were doing their shopping. Hmmmmmmmmm...

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post Arlee.

  23. Jo -- I'd be wary of going to Mexico these days. Especially the border towns and since I live so close those would be the most likely places I'd go. I'm in no hurry.

    Judy -- Suspicions always heat up during election time. They're all lying--that's my outlook now.

    Sandy -- I'm with you. We're basically on the same page in most of this. I still vote, but it's mostly just an empty ritual now. I don't know that I'd leave this country. We are essentially going the way of the world and vice versa.

    Ruth -- The increase of technology is stealing our freedoms more and more.

    Chuck -- Good luck. Philippines sounds scary, but I'm sure it's only as scary as the dumb things you could do and careless places you could go. I think you will be prudent.

    Sheena -- I think skepticism is becoming the norm everywhere. Government is only as good as the people running it and usually power corrupts.

    Denise - Intelligent well directed fear is probably a good and wise thing. Our government often wants to drench us in idealism and we've seen how that turns out.


  24. This is such a huge question Lee! I believe that it is sleepy of us to blindly trust any government or church or alliance. It means that we don't want to do the hard-lifting to see for ourselves what is true. I am very skeptical about our governments these days (I'm a Canuck). They seem to want us to be scared so they can do what they want - take away our rights, snoop into our private lives, all the time saying it is for our own good. I don't think so. We all need to wake up and ask the hard questions. I'm glad you went with your wife and saw for yourself. Let's all pinch each other and sing songs in each others ears so we wake up and take responsibility for our own joy!

  25. Sorry to hear that your experience was foreshadowed by fear, an unfortunate reality here in these United States of America. I learned how NOT to trust the government a long time ago, just another unfortunate experience in the US. IMO - about the scariest prospect of travel outside the US, is in obtaining and carrying a US passport whereby you've been 'chipped'.

  26. Well, I'm glad you had a good time and were safe. I've never traveled outside the country and probably would have let all those warnings scare me.

  27. Responding to your first question: I do not trust or distrust the government. I do believe that our's is the best one out there, but I also believe, as Churchill said, that democracy is a very poor sort of government - it just happens to be the best that we've been able to come up with. Personally, I don't believe that humanity can or will perfect it much. I believe that we're more likely to have an all-out nuclear war than world government.
    I've never suffered from paranoia, but I've known a few people who had it, and it was terrible for them. Is your distrust really that deep? You might try listing the good things your federal government has done. It might help put understandable frustrations in context. I get very irritated with huge, global businesses, but I can think of offsetting advantages they offer.

  28. Jan -- One of the keys to loyalty to government (or any organization) is creating a dependency based on fear and insecurity. We stick with what we know because that seems to be the safest thing to do.

    Faraway-- That "chip" is a whole nother story. Definitely something that we should be wary of, but most people probably don't think about it or know why it's a bad thing.

    Quanie -- I'll probably still side with caution in any future travel I do, but I don't know how much I'll rely on government information.

    Jack -- I do like the federal highway system. My paranoia doesn't usually keep me awake at night or weigh me so heavily that I can't function, but I have a lot of doubts about optimistic forecasts presented by the big political machines or the puppets in power.


  29. Bear in mind though that someone here "liked Ike" and was naive enough to use Wikipedia as their primary information resource when composing a multi-part pro-gun control blog installment.

    In other words, consider the source before valuing the opinion.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  30. That's it? Our people, led by their government, institutions, and enterprises have only a highway system to show for the last 70 years? We do seem to be polarized between our extremists at present, and thereby ineffective, but we gave the same impression in the Thirties, when we listened to the isolationists and interventionists hurl conspiracy charges at each other. If we can come together again and quit blaming our government for all our problems, we might just get another golden age.

  31. Lee,

    H*** no, we can't trust the government!! I never have and never will. They only tell us what they want us to think and believe and are very deceitful, if you ask me. I have no idea what's in store for all of us later, but I'm sure it isn't good. Anything the politicians are involved in never is. I'm also a conspiracy believer.

    I feel most people these days are like the frog in the pot of boiling water and won't wake up until it's too late. It may already be.


  32. Having worked with numerous government agencies over the years, my experience is that they err on the side of caution a lot (as in the case of travel warnings), not to deceive but because there are legitimate liability issues at play. The public is not very forgiving of government entities, not that they should be, but it does explain why our public servants do what they feel they must to cover themselves.


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