Sunday, October 04, 2009

Benefit of the doubt

I don't like justifying who or what I am - or what I do. I ask others to judge me based on what they see. I trust that good people who do an honest and fair check easily will see the true me. I’m pretty much WYSIWYG. I don't care much for wasting time or emotions on anybody who aren't honest or care enough to give me a fair chance before judging.

Many criticize or question me for being so public about my personal life on the Internet. I hear you, but have my reasons for being so transparent. However; I'm neither immune nor ignorant to the risks.

When I was as young I was very fascinated by computers. I bough my first when everybody I knew thought it was a silly fad and I got my first e-mail address long before even I knew the word Internet. Not that I could use it as I didn't know anybody else with an Internet address at the time. Back then we used the phone and called up Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) to communicate. Norway was interestingly enough the first country outside USA that got connected to ARPANET (the origins of Internet). The connection to this global wonder also gave me access to Usenet and later IRC, and my international network grew rapidly. I still have many very dear friends from all over the world that I met those first pioneering years.

Through my burning interest I got into IT at my work in the Norwegian postal services and my professional career started taking off. I was privately very interested in subjects like free speech, privacy and encryption, but also eager to explore hyper text and the new possibilities in web pages. My first personal web page was my training ground and I received a lot if recognition and awards for it. I developed several web sites for organizations I supported, like free thought, atheism and anti drugs.

While I was a strong supporter of the right to protect your individual privacy, I never had a problem being open about my personal life. In many cases it was sort of therapy. I'm still a very private person. First of all I have nothing to hide; I'm just a non-violent secular humanist who believes in personal ethical awareness and responsibility. And I believe we have a responsibility to be good role models in society. As a human living in peace and freedom thanks to many before me who fought for it, I feel obliged to pick up the stick. As I for over 20 years have worked with youth, I try to show them how I in my life strive for that through sharing and dialogue.

Now we know that what goes on the Net stays on the Net. As I in 1996 got involved in public education about a criminal and dangerous cult, I knew I couldn’t rewind my steps. I also saw that I was in a unique position to make a difference. I knew this unscrupulous cult would come after me with all they got the moment I stepped up on the barricade. For 13 years they have spent millions investigating me to find any dirt. First they try to scare and intimidate, then they investigate. If that fails, the third step to spread lies to black agent you. The goal is simple: To discredit you personally and professionally. Ideally ruin you utterly.

The cult believes that their critics are criminals and crazy – that is why they are critics according to their "logic". Therefore, finding my crimes will prove this. I have seen many good people silenced under this pressure and said to myself I will not be silenced by threats. By being open about my life I want to disarm them, there is nothing for them to find. I have no "buttons" they can push that will help them and I have already shared much more than they could find. And former cult victims have told me it was important to see me being so open and friendly, as a contrast to the lies the cult told them about me. It was part of their awakening.

Despite all the lies against me, I have managed to build a great professional career, I've received a lot of recognition in international media, I'm now on the national board of the largest Humanist association in the world - and despite all the resources used over so many years, the cult have not found one single bad thing on me. To me that is a darn good reference – privately and professionally!

Today I have over 20 years of personal history documented on the Net. A lot of it is personal, and a tiny fraction is lies. This has an impact on my life and I can not change the past. I can only continue striving to live a positive and constructive life. I can only continue to be open about my personal life to balance the lies.

So if you read about me, please at least give me the benefit of the doubt.

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
[Benjamin Franklin]

8 comments:

Nils said...

Thanks for doing what you do, and being who you are. Though you've made some enemies over the years, I'm sure you've made more friends, me included. Hilsen Nils. (Former operator on Zirconium BBS for a short but fun period.)

Tor Hershman said...

I give you the benifit of the doubt AND a cool Atheistic hollowday classic parody song.....
http://www.soundlift.com/band/music.php?song_id=82930

Anonymous said...

It is extremely interesting for me to read this post. Thank you for it. I like such topics and anything connected to them. I would like to read a bit more on that blog soon.

Alex said...

I only hope that you can see in the passion that scientologists have for their beliefs, some parallels to your own passions, and to mistakes you have made, whatever they may be.

Scientology wasn't supposed to be the way it is. And the spell its under is hard to break. There is truth in it, and that is what gives strength to the rest, even the seeming evil.

Anonymous said...

Keep on posting such articles. I like to read blogs like this. By the way add more pics :)

RexTemples20144 said...

nice job! waiting for your new artical. ........................................

Anonymous said...

Hello Mr. Heldal,

I don't know you and you don't know me but I will let you know that your works in this life (or particularly the internet) have become another inspiration for me to live my life as what I'm dreaming to do. It's a pity that I'm too scared for it right now but I'm sure I will be able to fight it someday.

Anonymous said...

dear Andreas, great job and respect.
Daniel Zhu