Wind, Wolves, and Wrath
My husband and I once got lost in Montana, which is a thing not to do; Montana miles are extra long and one must cover so very many of them to ask directions. It was a Twilight Zone experience. I’m sure that it’s obvious to all thinking Americans that our society is driving through its own Twilight Zone, lost and unable to locate the right highway. Many of us don’t even seem to realize that we’re heading toward a bridge that collapsed ages ago. We have taken ten wrong turns…
- We have lived in such astounding wealth that we’ve come to assume that a life of comfort, health, and luxury is normal. We assume that we’ll all live to a comfortable old age, living better than kings used to live. Our homes are climate controlled. We can easily stay clean, hydrated, and nourished. Most major diseases have been cowed into submission. That isn’t bad, but things have been so good for so long that we assume that a) we deserve it, b) that this is normal life, and c) we can’t lose it. But we’re about to.
- As a corollary, we suffer from the misunderstanding that poverty is caused by those who have money. Too many of us picture a finite amount of wealth that requires Johnny to be poor in order for Henry to be rich. If, however, we glance at history, we can see that wealth, plenty, and access to both necessities and luxuries have increased exponentially. We make the mistake of trying (hopelessly) to rob Peter in order to pay Paul. Peter is, of course, too smart, too savvy, and too rich to let that happen, so all we have created is more corruption, and therefore, more poverty.
- Hence, we jump to the conclusion that something is terribly unfair about society and that some form of enforced equity would solve that problem. Since nothing in nature or human society is naturally fair, this is a tall order. What makes it even more difficult to achieve is the fact that none of us is born equal. Secondly, it appears to be impossible to appreciably increase talent, intelligence, and personal drive, so the only way we can create equality is by hamstringing the capable so the incapable can catch up. Only, they never do. So, all we accomplish is the muzzling of greatness and the celebration of mediocrity.
- You see, we operate under the delusion that the world is ours to fix. We all think it’s our job to “change the world,” to “make the world a better place.” Yes, we have the job of being the caretakers of this planet, but I submit that we are not equipped to “fundamentally change” anything. God can, and He will when the time is right -- His right, not ours, but all we can do is maintain a positive storyline on our little part of the stage and leave the big stuff to God. We’ve raised a couple generations of people who carry the impossible burdens of rebuilding human society in a way that can never work, all while trying to “save the planet” from an everchanging variety of false existential threats. It's no wonder Fentanyl is a problem.
- Since the job of world-changing is so huge and since a lot of people will not go along with every scheme that stumbles onto the scene, some force will be required to reach even a semblance of success, government becomes much more than a necessary evil. Government becomes the only hope; it becomes the ultimate good. Only it isn’t. Surely the current occupants of Washington D.C. are enough to prove that. Vast amounts of money -- that rightfully belongs to those who earned it -- is crucial to correct economic and environmental inequities, and vast amounts of money attracts crooks of all kinds, government can only become worse, never better.
- If our purpose on earth is to make it a better place, then we end up worshipping change. All change, any change, any chaos becomes better than tradition, better than law, and definitely worth ditching history for. Millions of people voted for Obama because he spoke of “hope and change.” No one seemed to care what he meant by that, or worried about what he had in mind when he mentioned “fundamentally changing America.” Change is all good, right? Given the fact that Biden’s administration is, as many have noted, merely Obama 2.0, and that now we’ve seen where that goes, shouldn’t we now know better? But I’m not sure we do.
- We’ve also chosen to regard truth as merely a matter of personal preference, as a tool to be abused, a narrative to be told, a social experiment to be run. This attitude leaves us on very uncertain footing. Do we take the umpteenth booster? We have no way of knowing the truth about that. Do we trust (an offshoot of truth) our children’s teachers? Probably not. Can we count on candidates to follow through on their campaign promises? How silly. If we put truth in the bottom drawer of an old dresser up in the attic, we find ourselves in the uncomfortable place of having only one moral mandate -- tolerance.
- Tolerance is all inclusive, therefore equal (equity being the other side of the tolerance mandate). Tolerance requires no discernment, no forward thinking, no limits. It requires no thought, no judgment, no morals. Just tolerate and make excuses for everything. Tolerance is the cheap substitute for grace. Grace still thinks ahead, has moral boundaries, and often requires courage. Tolerance merely asks us to crawl so far inside ourselves that we take no notice of the harm our tolerance causes. One can talk about “minor-attracted” people all one wants, but one cannot allow himself to consider the damage done to the minor who has attracted such a vile human being. To tolerate evil is never a good thing.
- But how do we decide what is evil? That would require a moral code, would it not? But a moral code would require a final authority and we’ve removed God so far from our thinking that it’s hard to reclaim. We can pretend that our conscience is adequate guidance, but all we have to do is tally up the mass shootings of the last few years to see that doesn’t work. We’ve gotten in the habit of just making up rules as we go, like the poor boys of Lord of the Flies, and that didn’t go well. The biblical Ten Commandments cover most of what a society needs to prosper, and Christ’s two summaries of those Thou-shalt-nots, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, your mind, your soul, and do unto your neighbor what you would have him do to you,” are all we need, morally speaking. The good life is really pretty simple.
- Lastly, we’ve made the mad assumption that mankind is basically good -- never mind the plethora of evidence to the contrary. To make the man-is-good assumption we rob ourselves of any viable explanation for the myriad of vile things man is capable of doing to his fellowman, animals, to the planet itself. To reject the biblical stance that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” is to make rational thought impossible.
We are, in fact, lost on a vast plain of wind, wolves, and wrath. Circumstances -- i.e. flood, and storm, and economic disaster will go a long ways in correcting our confusions. But each of these silly assumptions will have to be corrected before we are once again America the Beautiful.
Deana Chadwell is an adjunct professor and department head at Pacific Bible College https://pacificbible.edu in southern Oregon. She teaches writing, logic, and literature. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.