It’s hard to see in all this smoke
A few months ago I was forced to sell my old Chevy Cobalt Coupe when the engine failed catastrophically. I considered buying a new car, but dismissed that idea almost out hand as I believed even then the future looked much too bleak to take on another monthly payment. But, paradoxically, used cars, being in short supply, were incredibly over-priced. If it hadn’t broken down, a comparable vintage Cobalt like mine was selling not much under what I paid for it—used—13 years earlier.
Providentially, a young man at my church needed tuition and expense money to return to seminary, and offered me his grandmother’s, extremely low-mileage Honda Accord for a truly affordable price. I was only slightly disappointed it was pale gold, and a four-banger. It looked like a car Grandma would drive. Because of it’s age, I was pretty certain no one but me would be driving around town in another car like it. But I was wrong. It seems they’re everywhere.
I should have known better, and it’s not only because people hang on to Hondas longer—which they do. It’s because without fully realizing it, I was subconsciously looking for another one like mine.
Why? For two reasons. I didn’t want to be in the minority in a time and place where new and cool are so important, and, I didn’t want to be associated with old, cheap, and thrifty. Very soon I realized they were everywhere. There is a lesson to be learned in this: We will see things we don’t realize we are looking for. And when we find them, they can be both surprising and affirming. It’s a matter of conditioning.
Anyone can be a target of conditioning. Our culture has been conditioned to accept and believe things that are not at all healthy for us. We have been conditioned to smoke and drink, overeat, over-stimulate, and a host of other vices that drag us down from the lofty altitude of dignity and esteem. We have been conditioned to find affluence and personal peace. Having found them, we begin opiating ourselves into believing the wrong ideas, and drawing the wrong conclusions.
We’re even conditioned to see things that are not really there—that don’t really exist, but we look for them anyway.
Now for the older generations living right now, the things we are looking for have, we’re told, become the “wrongs of the past.” This is good only if the purpose of looking for them—and at them—is to learn from them. This is the good and the right thing to do. But what are we really learning if our teachers and mentors are pointing us in the wrong direction? All the time?
Konstantin Kisin, (pictured) in a very absorbing and illuminating conversation with former Australian politician and YouTube personality, John Anderson, had this to say about the purpose of identifying the wrongs of the past:
“The question is what is the purpose of identifying the wrongs of the past if the purpose of them is to learn from them? That is a useful exercise at a level of the individual. If you look at yourself and what you’ve done wrong you can improve. But if you look at yourself day and night, and focus solely on your errors, and your weaknesses, and your failings, and you do nothing else, that is the recipe for depression and that is a recipe for disaster. It’s true of the individual, it’s true of society, [and] it’s true of civilization, which is why focusing solely on that and failing to see it in a broader historical context, is the death knell of Western civilization.”
To expand on that, I would say that depression throughout the world is at epidemic levels. We’re depressed because we’re so self-centered and focused on ourselves. It is very much like a form of psychosis. It doesn’t take all that much for most clear thinking people to realize that we are gripped with uncertainty, dismay, and distrust. We’re confounded by the very real—not seemingly—rapidity of how our social construct has and is changing. Perhaps more precisely, it’s being changed for us. We have discussed gaslighting before. (See “Word Play and Word Power,” and “One Nation Under God, Almost Indivisible.) Gaslighting, as you may already know, is the intentional manipulation of someone using psychological methods to question his own sanity or powers of reasoning.
The result of this gaslighting has come to the point of being outright grotesque. And yet, it continues apace because the victims of gaslighting have been fully assimilated into the “hive.” Resistance for such people is not simply futile, it’s not even conceivable. When honest people are still allowed to question what we are told, we can avoid the reductio ad absurdum—method of proving the falsity of a premise by showing that its logical consequence is absurd or contradictory. As an example, this is evident in nearly every White House press briefing. When Karine Jean-Pierre says, “We have—or the President has— been very clear on this…” that’s your clue that the gas is being turned up. Nothing we hear anymore from her, or the “house” she has been employed to white-wash, can be described as “clear.”
We might laugh at the absurd, but ironically, a healthier response might be outrage. I think William Bennet was on to something, with the idea of “The Death of Outrage.”
We are better than this, but our empathy has become the allure of choice for the truly bad actors among our political and social elites. It is now become a “weaponized empathy,” as Kisin would tell us. If our feelings alone can’t be trusted to form our best decisions—as any preacher will tell you—how much more than our feelings that have been hammered by lies and more lies?
I can’t help but wonder why so many of our neighbors really don’t understand how bad the situation has become. I will admit it’s hard to see in so much darkness—in such a thick smokescreen. Certainty will only be available to those of us with discernment—and especially those anointed with the Spiritual gift of discernment.
…and to another the working of miracles, and to another prophecy [foretelling the future, speaking a new message from God to the people], and to another discernment of spirits [the ability to distinguish sound, godly doctrine from the deceptive doctrine of man-made religions and cults], to another various kinds of [unknown] tongues, and to another interpretation of tongues. (1 Corinthians 12:10 AMP)
The problem with too many people today is not finding what we are looking for, even if we think we are not looking. The problem is not seeing at all, even if it is right in front of our eyes. For such people, even the truth will not set them free. I wonder though… could hearing the Gospel help them see?
Cover image from the Illustrator, Eleanor B. Campbell of The “Dick and Jane” series of American reading primers of the mid-twentieth century. The series included one titled, “We Look and See”