Our Tarnished Institutions and the Boy Who Cried Wolf
The Boy Who Cried Wolf is one of Aesop’s better-known fables, and relates the story of a shepherd boy who amused himself by giving false alarms as he watched a flock of sheep. The boy cried wolf once, then once again, giggling with glee at the way people came running. The third time he screamed for help there really was a wolf, but no one believed him.
Like most folk stories, this tale seeks to teach multiple lessons, if one listens closely. First, all jobs are important, even those which are entrusted to children. So, take it seriously. Don’t play around when you should be paying attention. Second, don’t waste valuable resources. The people who came running to help the boy were all busy with tasks of their own, which likely suffered as a result of his shenanigans. Third, and most important, don’t lie. If you get a reputation as a liar, people won’t believe you when you need them to.
In our modern world, there is a tendency to look upon our ancestors as simple, lesser beings. This is an incorrect and dangerous viewpoint. Practically speaking, people haven’t changed all that much since we were poking pointy sticks into the flanks of wooly mammoths in order to put food on the table, or the cave floor. Perhaps our meat comes shrink-wrapped from the fridge nowadays, but ancient people would feel right at home dealing with modern man, aside from some relatively minor cultural differences. Further, dealing with other people has always been the most challenging task anyone has ever had to tackle throughout history, certainly more difficult than perforating mammoths or watching for wolves. The wolves you really need to watch out for lope about on two legs, not four.
In an effort to pass on valuable lessons to subsequent generations, old people would sit around campfires and yammer on about their experiences. Odd as it sounds, grandpa telling boring stories is actually an evolutionarily favored behavior. Imagine that. Over time, we figured out that the lessons were more likely to be remembered if they were dressed up as stories. Hence, Aesop’s fables and their kin.
Which brings us to how the boy who cried wolf applies to today’s world. Over the past few decades, a group of people with a particular political outlook have infested most of our cultural institutions with the goal of using those institutions to advance their cause(s). Inherent in this effort is ignoring the nominal purposes of the institutions in favor of the overarching goal(s). As a result, news outlets no longer worry about facts. Judges no longer follow the law. And, most surprisingly of all, sports leagues don’t concern themselves primarily with playing sports. There are numerous other examples, but you get the idea.
Beyond the obvious problems which arise from this situation, there is a longer-term issue. These institutions are, in effect, lying to the public. We can’t trust the news media, the legal system, entertainment, sports, etc. … anymore. They have cried wolf too many times, and the wise move is just to ignore them. Ponder this. COVID-19, the Wuhan virus, will most likely turn out to have been nothing more than a bad flu. It wasn’t really the dangerous pandemic the left needed to camouflage stealing the 2020 election. But that devastating pandemic is coming. They show up periodically. Will we heed the warnings when the real pandemic rolls around, given the cynical use made of this one? Probably not.
Now, a society invests in building institutions because they are needed for the operation of a culture. We can’t go on ignoring them forever because we’ll need them sooner or later. The question is whether our institutions can be fixed, or are they so profoundly broken that they must be abandoned and replaced.
Some answers are obvious. Social media can be “fixed” by simply breaking it up into smaller, competing bits. This normally would be accomplished through some kind of anti-trust action. But since the organs of the government responsible for watching those sheep are in league with the wolves, the people will have to handle that themselves. We’re in the process of abandoning Twitter and Facebook for more honest alternatives. The market has already made a start in righting the wrongs of the news media as well. Network and cable mainstream channels were fading in the wake of the first impeachment of Trump. Fox News apparently decided to join them down the road to ruin on election night. So sensitive is the public to woke nonsense that Newsmax narrowly avoided losing all of the viewers they picked up from Fox when Mike Lindell was clumsily censored while being interviewed on a NewsMax show!
More of a problem will be those institutions which are insulated from free market forces. These include schools, universities, and the bureaucratic state. Charter schools and online universities can be started, but compromised academia will hang around like a bad smell as long as they can draw money from taxes and their enormous endowments. Our government presents special difficulties, since we can’t simply shop for a competing one short of secession (which is a different discussion entirely).
No, we will have to cleanse our government of these wolves with the ballot box, a process which will take years if not decades. The wolves know this as well, which is why they have scaled-up their political machines and what Time magazine called 'conspiracy' in the name of rigging elections. The only bright side to this situation is that the people now cannot ignore the lies being pumped out by what we thought were our institutions. We can thank Trump for that. He said what he would do, and then did it. The contrast to business-as-usual was stunning and refreshing. We liked it and wanted more of it. Which the swamp could not allow. Russia! Russia! Russia! Ukraine! Impeachment! Systemic racism! BLM! Pandemic! Insurrection! Is there a previously-trusted institution which hasn’t cried wolf about the bad orange man in the last four years?
Wolves can be clever, but they are not wise. They don’t think beyond their next meal. The meat these wolves feast on is political power, and they must have more and more of it. No thought is given to how society is to survive in the wake of the destruction wrought along that road, since those in charge can insulate themselves from the worst of an impoverished and dysfunctional culture. We common people cannot. It will be up to us to clean up the mess they leave, however big we allow it to grow.
A. Welderson wishes to remain anonymous, preferring morning coffee not fortified with the saliva of some triggered SJW barista. Fame is fleeting; hepatitis is forever.