Our society is showing signs of great stress. Much like a “fault” in the Earth’s tectonic plates, the stress has been building for some time and a great cataclysm could be at hand.
As the tension grows between the plates the pressure builds, most people on the surface are not aware of the impending disaster developing just below their feet. And like the earthquake that strikes suddenly and with deadly result, the pressures on our society are building and the release does not seem to be far off; that release will also be deadly.
I see this analogy as an appropriate one because it reveals the slow boil effect of any situation where tensions grow unabated, even though we know there is danger we do nothing to prevent it, believing it will never really happen. This is the most dangerous part of this potentiality.
Also, like the major earthquakes that come along from time to time, often separated by many years, the growing discord in our country and indeed the entire world has been simmering in the background since the last major eruption.
We cannot fully grasp the scope of what is brewing beneath our own feet in terms of a societal earthquake, but the signs are there if we look for them. Burying our heads in the sand, hoping for this to pass is foolishness at the risk of destruction. In my own religion the example is clear, Jesus saw the coming difficulties that he was about to endure and asked his Father in Luke 22:42 (King James Bible): “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”
The recent attacks on religious facilities in Monsey, NY and Ft. Worth, Texas, as well as the wanton ambush attacks on our police officers across this country are a clear sign of the coming reckoning, a reckoning that we may not be able to stop either.
It is not my point to paint a picture of doom and gloom as the new year of 2020 is about to start, but instead I am calling out to anyone who will listen to say, that the day is upon us for action.
But before we can act, we must first understand the reasons for this turmoil so we can plan appropriately to not just respond to the growing danger, but to respond to it effectively. There is not value or valor in just swinging at windmills or cursing the darkness as it descends upon us if we cannot hold back the ravages and restore the light for everyone. These are flowery words meant to engage, but words alone cannot help us.
So where are the roots of this coming encounter with destiny?
The seeds of this current potential calamity were sown, in my opinion, in the history of our existence as sentient beings, with free will, desire, purpose, and all the virtues and flaws of mankind. We are a loving and kind people and at the same time a ruthless, vile and a deadly lot. The difference is in the motivations for our actions.
As human beings are possessed with all of the positive and negative traits that can be the salvation of our species, so are we possessed with the traits that can be our downfall, and often have throughout history.
The negative traits of our souls are powerful and can lead even good men and women to ruin as we have all witnessed throughout our lives. It is this negative side I see as the driver of our problems because they move us to act in our own interest no matter what the cost to those around us. The examples here are plenty:
How many men have ruined their families lives by breaking the bonds of their marriages for pleasure of the flesh? A short experience that leads to the damage of the entire family.
How many of our leaders have been corrupted by the power of the positions we create and sanction because of the lure of that power, prestige and money that often comes with it?
If this negative side of human personality is not harnessed it can destroy a nation and all the people living in them as it has in our great world wars and all of the conflicts we see across the globe. It is rare that an act of war is conducted for virtuous reasons, most often war is the result of the drive for power, wealth and the control of other people.
The United States is exceptional because our history is not blemished by countless acts of aggression for expansion or the plunder of other peoples and nations, in fact we are the exception to that rule in that we have spilled the blood and laid down the lives of our children at the altar of freedom for justice and peace for others as well as ourselves.
We operate or have operated on the model of our better angels for most of our existence, the positive traits of humanity leading the way. From the opening moments of the Revolution to the battles in Afghanistan going on to this day⏤our overreaching purpose was for good.
It is with this reality in mind that I see the coming danger to our way of life and our exceptionalism.
The recent revelations about the actions of our political leaders to thwart the will of the people, control our lives and define our destinies as they see fit is the greatest attack on freedom we have seen since the pains of the U.S. Civil war.
This paradigm shift in how our leaders use the power of government and wield the awesome authority of that power against our own citizens is the toning of the bell, the call to action, the realization that our darker side is trying to emerge, to follow its destiny. It is akin to the rumbles before the earthquake. It is a warning that we must heed.
Many a pundit, writer and commentator have made this point, myself included there is nothing new in this concept, but it is the fodder for this column and my thoughts going into a new year.
The attacks on our religious places of worship and our police officers, symbols of our self-determination and freedom are a talisman. They point us to the culprits who are working against us, we must see behind the curtain and we must act.
Who is behind this curtain?
Anyone who is not for complete religious freedom, free speech in all of its forms, and real tolerance and understanding of others. They are the people who say one thing and do another in our government, those who would use deception to attain their goals in spite of the peoples will as expressed in our traditional ways. They are the people who sit in ivory towers and cast aspersions on people they consider ”lesser” than them, described in the past as those who cling to their God and their guns. They are also the people that sow conflict between groups to build their power base, those who would use our trust against us, and those who would be as comfortable saying “I don’t remember” at every inquest searching for the truth to those saying “Off with their heads”. And they are the people that use the tenants of religion as a weapon when its suits them while at the same time defiling the actual concepts of religion in their everyday lives.
The list can go on and on, we know who they are, we can see them in plain sight.
At this point, if the practitioners of negativity have been identified and their actions and motivations revealed, the next step is on those who do not want to continue this way; the people who are often busy working, raising families, caring for their communities and honoring their God and their country. It is up to you to get involved and not follow the herd, but to lead.
There is an old saying by Edmund Burke that capsulated this efficiently: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”
It is here in time we find ourselves. When mad men, filled with hate and rage, enter a church, synagogue or mosque and vent their negativity and destruction on innocence. And while these mad men are individuals, they are a sign of the times, symptom of a society in decline, but only if they are not rebuked at every turn.
We must demand the rule of law be our guide, that hatred be quelled, that tolerance mean just that. We must rally together to ensure justice is at the core of our agreement and practices of living together, and we must call out and reject those that would denigrate our way of life. This is what is at stake for 2020. The evidence is right before us, we have the signs, now we must interpret and respond to them.
There will be many who read these words and find them harsh or unnecessary, I accept that. Each man and woman must make their own choices and see their own realities, but I offer this insight.
If I describe a scoundrel, a traitor or a fool without mentioning names and you think I am talking about you…. Whose fault it that?