In the last year or so, I have come to the irrefutable conclusion that I am becoming an antique. Like those old boxes of 65-year-old comic books that languish in my closet, I am a relic of an age that is rapidly becoming a distant memory for some and an impossible fiction for most. And while I am only in my mid-fifties chronologically, culture-wise I am on the leeward side of a great divide in which the aberrant forms and opinions that encompass me are rapidly accelerating past my ability to absorb them. Thus, I am as some quaint heirloom that has philosophically and volitionally waded out from the river of popular culture, while residing in the tenuous and shallow eddies of the far banks -- self-arresting my progress and pausing more to gaze behind me than afore.
I do not mean to represent myself as some Luddite antiquarian who prefers living "off the grid" -- eschewing cell phones and the newest technology. No, it is ideals and tastes I am referencing, and the latter, I suppose, is the less egregious of the two. In television viewing -- other than Judge Judy, who is an antique in her own right -- I am intrigued with the Memory Entertainment Network and its calendar of old programming from the late fifties through the early seventies. The current mélange of titillating sitcoms and faux dramas in which America is assaulted with nightly, along with the indigestible reality conflict-based scripts are as banal and assaulting to my sensibilities as a skunk is to a bloodhound. Such programming is designed democratically to appeal to the lowest within us, and frequently the story arcs do little more than proselytize an amorphous tolerance for the perverse and base, which has the corrupting effect of sandblasting culture free of its philosophical and moral diversity, and leaving in its wake an ethical homogeneity where literally any human action is "on the table."
The Body Cult has, I suppose, always been present in American culture to some degree, but our current infatuation with it is an increasingly disturbing aspect of American life. While health is a net good, the fetish that attends it is more indicative of the latent therapeutic narcissism and the paper-thin dogma of eternal youth: a belief that the finite commodity of life can be mastered through technology and that through the relentless procedures of scalpel and supplements, man can beat God at his own game. Such a mindset leads necessarily to the tyranny of the body: the relentless pursuit of the washboard abs and the melancholy determination to arrest nature and remain forever the belle of the ball.
One needs only to visit the watering holes in some relatively upscale community to fully grasp what I speak of. Within are armies of cookie-cutter seasoned women injected with plastics, sporting pulled-tight faces and airbrushed countenances, wearing clothing that could easily be worn by their daughters. Unable to detach themselves from the treadmill of expectations, their eyes betray a certain haunted realization that they are inexorably losing both battle and war. Truly, there is nothing under heaven more pathetic than a man or a woman trying to mask him- or herself as a young thing.
Having been of a conservative bent the majority of my life, our grim moral reality has me constantly testing the present age against the sagacious eternal things. And it is here that I fully and irrevocably find myself a veritable stranger in a strange land. It is not so much the change that is offensive, but that the change is perceived as contrary to our human interests.
Perhaps most abusive to my moral sensibilities has been the near-fifty-year erosion of the family structure and our opening of the Pandora's box of human sexuality -- the latter bearing witness to the evolving social normalization of homosexuality. The federal government, in its relentless attempts to equalize the unequal, has waged a long march in thoroughly democratizing the nuclear family. That it has succeeded only in reaping waves of dependence and dysfunction is beyond credulity to citizens raised in the years prior to the Great Society. Additionally, the absent or defective image of the father has regressed the ideal of the male into a vestigial appendage that can be supplemented by the State or terminally excised by the interchangeable arrangement of two men or two women living in a government-sanctioned state of wedlock. Indeed, in a longitudinal study of selected families, two lesbian women were portrayed as the best candidates as parents. The source of this study? The Journal of Homosexuality.
This journey into personal antiquity has taught me that the values and beliefs I hold more dearly than gold are not of themselves dusty and timeworn -- ready for the ashcan of history. In fact, I never cease to be amazed at all manner of people, young and old, who I would have never suspected hold firm and cherish these Old Ways and have not bent their knee to Baal.
As we begin anew another four years of Presidential exile beside the dark rivers of Babylon, let us not cease our yearning for the beautiful cause that we hold so deeply within our hearts. The Founders' glory still waxes within our imaginations, and before long (and even now), we shall have shaken off the dust and sackcloth of recrimination only to draw the sharpened saber once again.
Our ways are old, but they are true. Better to fight and acquit ourselves with courage, even in defeat, than acquiesce those blood-bought principles and pass into the horizon, like a drifting constellation in the night sky.