Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
With the extreme left, these days, it seems that whatever the topic being discussed, there are only two views allowed: good or bad, us or them, saviors or Nazis, perfect and fart-free weather or climate catastrophe dooming everybody AND the planet to TOTAL annihilation in 12 years.
No if’s, and’s, or but’s.
In an era of 100% modifiers and the hyperboliest of hyperbole, we’re all doomed, the extremists preach, UNLESS we come on board the new proposed bills and regulations proliferating at the rate of one bad news chyron after another scrolling along the bottom of the TV news faster than forefingers can flick from one meme to another on hand-held gadgets.
Facts, expert analyses, and critical thinking in general, be damned.
Nuance? Nah. It’s woke or broke.
But of utmost imperative: DO (vote for extremists’ policies) or DIE!!!
Because…the children, the planet, the existentialist threats of existential threats (spoken in hushed tones or proclaimed in booming oratories from YouTube videos and/or Senate chambers).
Is this just the natural naiveté and idealism of youth and youthful U. S. Congresspersons (the newest and most intense purveyors of panic)?
Or, is it something more insidious they have been successfully propagandized and programmed to repeat and promote, whether on purpose or unwittingly?
While it’s fun to make fun of gaffes, sloppy thinking, and callow youth, I believe we need to take all of this a lot more seriously.
IF IT BLEEDS IT LEADS–THE REVOLUTION
“The significant changes in history have been made by revolutions,” and “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.”–Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals**
And from an ancient observer on the consequences of the darker side of human nature which tends to repeat itself if we don’t learn the lessons of what went on–and what went under– before: “The life of man upon earth is a warfare “– JOB 7:1, Bible, ESV
(In other words, there’s never a time, really, to completely trust the powers-that-be and/or the powers-that-wannabe.)
Keeping the population in a constant agitated state of nervous tension over one dire condition and/or consequence after another is an arguable strategy of the extremist left we can easily view, read, and hear–if we take time to seriously reflect and stop merely pointing out the ironies and the absurdities.
But the challenge is what to do about it.
And we must do something.
Though entertaining and informative, too much political humor that serves as a little respite from the political mayhem also distracts us from the strongest antidote, in my view, to the real menace to the mind and the populace which is to remain intentionally aware of the tyranny of the often manufactured urgent, then, however we can, speak truth to power–and act accordingly by “sharing” social media memes, texts, and links to articles or videos, by letter writing, organizing with others of like mind, or even, for a few who have the inclination and courage, run for political office.
Nobody likes to swim upstream; risk alienating loved ones, friends, and colleagues; have their voice silenced and/or face harsher consequences for outing the truth.
But countering the lies and the propaganda is required, indeed, it is the real revolutionary act when extremism corrals, cages, then conquers a population evolving over time from, first, thought, then word, then deed.
As someone once put it: “In a time of universal deceit — telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” —source
Because from the beginning point of effective propaganda (including constant hyperbolic frenzy) it’s all uphill for the authoritarian elites and downhill for everyone else.
Truth-telling begins with truth-thinking, aka discernment, aka critical analysis.
And, I believe this resistance strategy is not only crucial it is well-nigh.
Just think about how many people you have heard lately expressing frustration over all the angry talking heads! Perhaps yourself as well. Just make it stop! we say, louder by the day.
Indeed, those at the helm of authoritarian ambitions won’t.
When our minds and nervous systems are exhausted, having been constantly pummeled into distress by the constant catastrophizing, we are most vulnerable to, and desperate for, a solution–any solution proffered by what savior arises out of the chaos–or the casting call.
And the ambitious know this well.
As Rahm Emanuel famously said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.”
To quell the pandemonium and fear we even consider solutions and personalities we would abhor in a better state of mind, emotion, and/or nerves.
But it’s more than just speaking truth to power, it’s maintaining and guarding the truth at all times in the resistance to true tyranny, tyranny ginned up much more easily in this technological era given the 24/7 influence of multiple media to shape, twist, turn, and control what we will allow it to when we remain uncritical and unreflective consumers.
Such passivity keeps us in a constant state of fear, freeze, or flight, where the sky is always falling. Keeps us craving that savior.
As Orwell put it, “The consciousness of being at war, and therefore in danger, makes the handing-over of all power to a small caste seem the natural, unavoidable condition of survival.”–George Orwell, 1984
THE MOST EFFECTIVE RESISTANCE
Thoughtful and just gains and goals will not be made and achieved by remaining in an agitated, narrowed state of mind, certainly not in the paralysis of cynicism.
A certain amount of well-crafted satire*** has its eye-and mind-opening purpose, of course, but where the rubber meets the road (or the boot, the neck) real resistance to tyranny begins–and remains–in the mind, no matter what external force might also be needed.
Orwell explains why, best: “It’s the one thing they can’t do. They can make you say anything – anything – but they can’t make you believe it. They can’t get inside you.”
On “inside,” i.e., mind, emotions, and spirit, where the real power is, I wrote more extensively here.
We mustn’t enter the minefield of extremist propaganda and fear-mongering without remaining aware of this at all times.
From that ancient source cited above, consider also what the Christians know: “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control”–2 Timothy, 1:7, ESV.
And consider, too, what their prophets warn, also found in the second book of Timothy: “But understand this: In the last days terrible times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, without love of good…” (2, 1-3, NIV).
These “last days,” if they are, won’t be over until they’re over, one way or another, both “in the heavens” and on the ground (see Post Script, below, for more information on “end times”).
*Orwell, George. 1984. London: Secker and Warburg, 1949. Print.
**Alinsky, Saul David. Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals. Vintage books. New York: Vintage Books, 1971.
***One of my absolute favorite contemporary satirical novels, as well as being highly entertaining, is Ella Minnow Pea, by Mark Dunn, about which I had the sheer pleasure to reflect and write on, here. By the way, from a teacher to teachers, grades 7-university level, I highly recommend it.
Post Script: here is a brief outline of Bible prophecy concerning so-called “end times”. For a more in-depth, scholarly exposition of the time period, I highly recommend the commentary on the Book of Revelation by Chuck Missler, https://www.amazon.com/Book-Revelation-Commentary-Chuck-Missler/dp/1578210968.
A series of YouTube lectures based on the book can be accessed online.