Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past (Orwell).*
And He made from one [common origin, one source, one blood] all nations of men to settle on the face of the earth, having definitely determined [their] allotted periods of time and the fixed boundaries of their habitation (their settlements, lands, and abodes (Acts 17:26, Amplified Version).
ON THEY WHO WOULD CONTROL THE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE
As political rage in America continues to increase in both hatred and violence (which tend to breed only more of the same because emotions, if potent enough, eventually overpower reason) it seems we are at the point of what is known as a “mobocracy” (i.e., “rule by the mob”).
As defined in RationalWiki, mobocracy is: “a layman’s neologism for ochlocracy (Greek: οχλοκρατία), where there is no accepted leadership and disputes are often settled by brute force or the sheer weight of people. Another word is majoritarianism, for obvious reasons. It is related to anarchism…”
When I first started this series, peaceful protests began to be infiltrated by hired black bloc vandals with their masks, sticks, torches, and clubs. Then the rage escalated to blatant assassination signaling. Then, there was the gunning down of several congressmen in the political party on the gunman’s hit list…
In addition to all this, we now have the newest step in what some are calling a “soft coup” takeover of the United States: eradicating its symbols–most recently by defacing and/or destroying historical statuary*–thereby ignoring due process of law (and by the way breaking it) for the removal of such cultural artifacts should the people deem them offensive.
Not only that, in another piece of (Orwellian) twisted “logic” which is really irony, the vandals are claiming they want “peace through violence,” and (yet another irony) claim that they who brook no opposition of thought or action are “anti-fascist”. (One wonders if many of them truly comprehend the term “fascist“.)
Furthermore, just now, in my opinion, when we need as much reasonable debate as we can muster to counter extremes on both left and right sides of the politics of the day, brooking no opposition is perhaps the most dangerous attitude to take on.
What if, just what if, our current president is part of a Hegelian dialectical (political) process…and we end up with a pre-determined “solution” that is really lose-lose for all, particularly because violence has both intended and unintended consequences: for example, people become afraid to speak up.
Well, except for the high-level real “powers-that-be,” call them what you will: deep state, shadow government, global elitists who “speak up” by proxy, as it were, in whatever way works for them…
But back to the monument vandalism.
The reason I am focusing on this particular aspect is because I believe it is an apt illustration of the wisdom–and warning–embedded in the Orwell quote from his political satire 1984 featured in the epigraphs and allusions above, and the expanded commentary, below*.
This wanton and nearly unchecked destruction of property speaks not only of the mob’s current hatred of people and political party but also now the very history of the country. This tells me and others paying attention that we are likely in an even more dangerous place–particularly when many uniformed and/or elected “peacekeepers” seem to be purposefully standing down and allowing the destruction.
And here is my main point regarding this new level of violence: it helps the cause greatly if one wants to conquer a nation to erase the real history and make up new history–which opens the door to controlling the future. Destroying tangible artifacts is one way to do that**.
One might be inclined to throw up the hands at this point and lament, “What’s the use of trying to fight the violence or even peacefully protest, anymore, when the leadership is silent, absent, or overpowered?”
But of course as frustrating, discouraging, and dark as is the current political climate, there is encouragement–for those who will hear.
ON HE WHO DOES CONTROL THE PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE
Even non-Christians are using biblical terms these days when it comes to the decidedly dark state of the world. There are few left who haven’t seen at least one event (natural or man-made) referred to in various iterations of the term “Armageddon” (Snowmageddon, Trumpmageddon, Obamageddon, Cybergeddon, and so on). So in one way, I suppose, the severity of the current political rage is turning more minds at least toward a bigger spiritual picture. However, such neologisms are also used simply as hyperbole to indicate how awful something or someone is. And, fortunately, there is still enough of the collective cultural mind left to get the allusion, for the good or ill of it.
Yet, there is a remnant of believers who take such comparisons, hyperbole or not, as important reminders of Biblical prophecies (aka that which comprises approximately 25% of the Bible, some 2,000 of approximately 2,500 of which have already been fulfilled, according to those who study such things). By knowing the “signs of the time,” in this case the end of the so-called “Church Age,” specifically, believers also comprehend that Jesus’ second coming is getting very close. And there is some comfort in that while we do our best to resolve what hate we may in the remaining moments.
But there is also hope.
Regarding Who is really in charge of the past, present, and future, the violence of mobs/terrorists/over-throwers/conquerors through the ages notwithstanding, is the Subject of my second epigraph, the verse from the Book of Acts where Paul is discussing the altar to the “Unknown God” located on a rocky hill (Areopagus) west of the Acropolis in Athens featuring statuary to various Greek gods. This God, Paul explained, is the One Who fixed those “time periods and habitations of the inhabitants of earth…”
He is also the One who “(makes) known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come” (Isaiah 46:10, NIV).
And Paul’s hearers also had enough collective cultural awareness to comprehend what he meant back then, as he used the statues on the hill as visual cues.
We can be encouraged and comforted today also in that this known God is neither intimidated nor surprised at the increasing darkness in the world nor the mobocracy that seems to grow in hatred and in lawlessness as the days commence. And this will also help us keep a sound mind when all around it seems the rhetoric–and the vandalism–gets ever crazier and more illogical. Not to mention dangerous.
It will also help us keep the true history of our nation with its goods, bads, beautifuls and uglies in perspective lest those who would destroy it to rewrite it, propagandize–or force–us away from reality.
I pray our nation can return to the rule of law and to reason.
At the same time, given the times we are in, I encourage believers to look up….
*1984, George Orwell. Commentary from SparkNotes unpacks the meaning of this quote which, what with the expansion of mobocracy in current culture, seems to bear an eerie resemblance to 2017. See what you think:
This Party slogan appears twice in the novel, once in Book One, Chapter III, when Winston is thinking about the Party’s control of history and memory, and once in Book Three, Chapter II, when Winston, now a prisoner in the Ministry of Love, talks to O’Brien about the nature of the past. The slogan is an important example of the Party’s technique of using false history to break down the psychological independence of its subjects. Control of the past ensures control of the future, because the past can be treated essentially as a set of conditions that justify or encourage future goals: if the past was idyllic, then people will act to re-create it; if the past was nightmarish, then people will act to prevent such circumstances from recurring. The Party creates a past that was a time of misery and slavery from which it claims to have liberated the human race, thus compelling people to work toward the Party’s goals.
The Party has complete political power in the present, enabling it to control the way in which its subjects think about and interpret the past: every history book reflects Party ideology, and individuals are forbidden from keeping mementos of their own pasts, such as photographs and documents. As a result, the citizens of Oceania have a very short, fuzzy memory, and are willing to believe anything that the Party tells them. In the second appearance of this quote, O’Brien tells Winston that the past has no concrete existence and that it is real only in the minds of human beings. O’Brien is essentially arguing that because the Party’s version of the past is what people believe, that past, though it has no basis in real events, has become the truth.
**One is immediately reminded of the tactics of ISIS terrorists who destroy symbols and artifacts of the countries they desire to conquer. Let the reader make his or her own inference.