Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Undisturbed by Ideas

Are people getting worse? Are we devolving into a sub-species that would make apes ashamed to associate with us? Pick a day, any day, and tune into the news, any source, and the answer seems clearly “Duh!” The list is so long it’s exhausting to keep up and why exactly do we have to people our mind with the likes of Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Rudy Guilliani, the unspeakable 45,  Joe Manchin and on and on? My soul feels dirty just writing their names and there isn’t a soap strong enough to entirely wash them out. 


Media chooses where to shine its light and it will always choose to shine it on the outrageous, the angry, the mob refusing to move beyond their reptilian brain and dwell in the mire and muck of sex and power and the fight-freeze-flight mentality that pays the bills of the news vultures. The ignorant, cruel, the apathetic, the folks who are shouting in the face of the camera have become the new norm and if you want any attention in the national discourse, it’s required to turn the volume up to 10. Led by the shameless group of despots above, some people demand more and more extreme non-thought and action (Capitol riots) just to make it through the day, addicted to opposition. They are part of a type I call the Conquerors, those who burn and slash and dominate, with strong wills and charisma and determination to amass their personal power, wealth, adoration. 


Opposing them are those who use their will and charisma and determination to protect and defend others, the warriors of social justice and earth stewardship, the Caretakers. Many do this work quietly in the classroom or the hospital or at the Farmer’s market, so the news isn’t interested. But those who rise to power and visibility, from the Zen master to the Congressperson, sometimes get caught in the opera of glass-shattering arias and get brought down by the sex scandal or embezzlement charge.


The third group are the Consumers, those who can’t be bothered, who live in the bland middle and simply want to have a nice day at the mall. They refuse to engage, thus lending power to the conquerors through their silent complicity and willingness to blindly obey. They choose to remain ignorant of important ideas and issues, like their food un-spiced and pre-packaged, prefer smooth jazz with all the harsh notes taken out. 


All three types we have always had with us and probably always will. Witness this passage by Charles Dickens in his book Bleak House (Chapter 12, p. 149 for those who like footnotes), written over 150 years ago, but perfectly describing the Consumers noted above:


There are ladies and gentlemen…not so new, but very elegant who have agreed to put a smooth glaze on the world and to keep down all its realities. For whom everything must be languid and pretty. Who are to rejoice at nothing and be sorry for nothing. Who are not to be disturbed by ideas. On whom even the Fine Arts, must array themselves in the milliners’ and tailors’ patterns of past generations, and be particularly careful not to be in earnest, or to receive any impress from the moving age. 


Stay tuned for an old article I wrote about “The Three C’s” and let’s see if it holds up as well as Dickens! 


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