Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
In parts 1 and 2 of this series, linked above, I offered my perspective on what’s been damaging the E Pluribus Unum of the United States–and in some respects the entire world–by the current ideology of “Intersectionality” where everybody’s a victim in one sense or another (and the more the better in this worldview when it comes to compensation, reparation–agitation, etc.).
By this Balkanizing mindset, you might describe it, America’s motto, E Pluribus Unum (“out of many, one”) has been twisted around to represent more an E Unum Pluribus like its rendering in the title (“out of one, many”– little fractured, warring tribes, growing in number by the day, it seems).
This, of course, is not good for stability, strength, or survival–except for the ones agitating the fracturing, in which case, at length, the tribes will have become so angry and confused as they battle for finite amounts of compensation the competition will have worn them down.
And set them up–for a “savior”–by way of a literal person or some ideology.
Enter the real power-mongers…
However, there is another way to apply E Unum Pluribus. The mongers might have one goal in mind (global control, as many believe) but there will always be resistance–if even just unum, at first.
If one studies trends over time in everything from fashion to political ideology to worldview, one sees this pattern: someone or some people come up with one “brand” (of thought, style, interpretation, philosophy, ideology, etc.), it catches fire, ignites a following, and soon becomes codified in the culture (what’s called the normalization process).
But pretty soon, the masses grow weary (or wary) and voilà! up comes another thought, style, interpretation, etc.*
And it is a surety that what caused/causes one trend to morph into the next is: resistance.
Vive la résistance!…
Resisting the norm, or the status quo is, of course, both good and bad. Change in how we cure the sick is one example of a good positive change, initiated by resistance to the old ways of practicing medicine.
Science and technology help as well, for example, and again from the medical field, it took some time (and a few inventions) for doctors to comprehend that washing hands and sterilizing equipment reduced the death rate in hospitals because they could now see (via microscopes) the bacteria that caused all the sickness and death.
But that wasn’t the only resistance required. It also took some hard and heavy advocacy by those who used the same old scientific method to connect cause (dirty hands and scalpels) to effect (death).
But generally speaking, it’s human nature to desire something new, different, better (or what we believe to be better), and I would add, and this speaks to the down side of resistance from that ancient font of wisdom, the Bible: “….the eyes of man are never satisfied” (Proverbs 27:20, KJV).
Back to E Unum Pluribus. You might say that from this one element of human nature that is never satisfied, that wants change, we get many different ideologies, philosophies, cultures, and ways of doing things.
All of this brings me to today’s part of this series on survival (re-printed below):
- because not all change is good, and
- because knowledge is neither good nor bad, if you think about it; it is just knowledge (for example, nuclear power IS, but with wisdom comes the next, critical part of the think-through: we can both benefit AND blow things up with this invention! So next comes ethical considerations), and
- in our rush to good, better, best (and most lucrative, too!) we rarely combine knowledge with wisdom. Thus
- advice and warnings tend to go unheeded.
Sadly, along with advice and warnings that go unheeded, so often does knowledge of history (which tends to repeat itself), common sense, critical thinking, and the rest of the best of human nature.
So, here we go again: RESISTING!
It’s sometimes a lonely battle field, but it’s a crucial one, especially nowadays, when those who would not only exploit the worst of human nature (greed, envy, and the other so-called “seven deadly sins“) go about their business aided and abetted by propaganda and seemingly unlimited lust for power (I mean, how much does it TAKE to satisfy some?! Oh yeah, “the eyes of man…”).
Thus–and again–we need some mental and spiritual encouragement and reinforcements.
I’ve selected today’s blast from the past (but not that long ago!) because of the competition for catastrophizing “the end of the world” via some “climate change armageddon” promoted by some of the current candidates vying to be the Democrat candidate for the presidency in 2020 and debating this very week. Some of them say it’s only 12 years away! Some say 10! (see below for even more fear and dread).
And I suspect before The One is selected to run, we will have to mind the advice of the elderly who say, anticipating their own pending demise, they avoid buying green bananas, as it were, when asked “How are you doing?”…
So, resist, I tell you–for God’s sake and your own!
Extremists, Falling Skies, Revolutions, and Resistance
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.”**
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 Winston Smith, the protagonist in George Orwell’s book 1984 about a future dystopia, 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.”
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.
Smith 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.
*For example, this description of the changes from what’s called the “pre-modern” era to the “modern” era, to the, now “post-modern” era:
(The) the “pre-modern era” was one in which religion was the source of truth and reality. God’s existence and revelation were givens in the culture. In the modern era, science became the source for truth and reality. During this period, religion and morality were arbitrarily demoted to the subjective realm. In the present, postmodern era, there is no single defining source for truth and reality beyond the individual. Postmodernism simply radicalized relativism and individualism and then applied them to all spheres of knowledge — even science. (source)
***Alinsky, Saul David. Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals. Vintage books. New York: Vintage Books, 1971.
Image of raised fist: By Created by User:KeithTyler. It is a variant of the clenched fist motif which has been widely used by leftist, workers, and liberationist groups since the nineteenth century. The motif itself is not under copyright. – Uploaded by User:KeithTyler, who created this image., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1682523
(Reprinted post updated)
We need to be so careful and discerning as to where we get our news and information. It is so easy to get slammed with the emotional hype that comes in so much of the media. It is hard to separate fact from someone’s agenda. And Reason is an orphan without a filter of Faith to guide us in making good and accurate decisions. The Enlightenment brought a fissure between Faith and Reason. Faith should guide Reason and Reason will in turn amplify Faith. We have divorced the two to our detriment. A course that bears looking into is the Benedict Option (which see link) in building a healthy community.
So true: “The Enlightenment brought a fissure between Faith and Reason. Faith should guide Reason and Reason will in turn amplify Faith. We have divorced the two to our detriment”–particularly these days, when we see the fallout of the “detriment” more and more in minds and hearts that, without the guiding good, turn to ever-present evil that inevitably fills the void.
The article on the Benedictine community is interesting.
Coming from my own early years immersed in Catholicism, I am reminded of so many–and varied–communities of Catholic “orders,” including “lay auxiliaries.” “Protestants” set them up as well.
Human beings crave religious “tribes” as well as social, ideological, and intellectual, in our best efforts to make some sense of the world’s mayhem that creeps even into the sanctuary.
I am also reminded of some of the communities (and communes) that formulated about fifty years ago in the latest mass revival, the “Jesus Movement,” that went the way of many others over time, which is to say, many such communities strayed from a sincere desire for truth (and truth worked out in daily life and activities) to either border on cults or reduce to just another religion versus a relationship with Jesus Christ.
What I am mostly grateful for, however, as human constructs are always flawed in some or many respect due to man’s limitations, is the eternal and perfect unity Christians enjoy in Christ, all bought with His sacrificial blood, and “seated in the heavenlies” with Him, though here on earth we haven’t yet the “eyes” to perceive this wholly.
And I value the “Berean” “reminder,” as it were, to “study” not only the Word of God with great care lest anybody come along who has “other words”–and practices–however earnest and sincere, that would not only entice us away if even a small degree (and small degrees enlarge over time) but also begin to work a wedge between us and our grace-filled and faith-gifted relationship with Jesus.
It makes me cling ever more closely to my own desire to know Christ (and Him alone), better and better, in my ongoing quest to see as clearly as I can through that “dark glass” we all work to “see through” on this earthly plain.
May I say I never found much clarity in the myriad religious structures and devotional options of my youthful religion even though I did hear of essential elements of the faith through the snippets of God’s Word offered in the multi-faceted religious structure of Roman Catholicism. There were riches there, of a kind, but I still struggled to fill a void some call the “God” void.
But then I “met” Jesus Christ (aka the Word Made Flesh) and by His gift of the Holy Spirit have since been unwrapping the length, depth, and breadth of that gift that is revealed sometimes in a community of other believers, but most often in that “still, small voice” that leads, directs and guides in alignment with the Word of the inspired text.
Like Martha’s sister Mary, I’ll stay there at the feet of Jesus, listening and learning.
Especially when I feel most like Martha, who struggled with her burden of obligation, as it were, there in the kitchen.
Cheers and blessings,