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Archive for January 11th, 2021

More than ever before in my lifetime has there been such a profound need for reflection on this well known scriptural passage.

Demagogues among us are legion and they are brutal masters of subterfuge. They take a lie, weave a tortured narrative around it, and then amplify it through hermetically sealed echo chambers so often as to dupe the casual and inattentive reader and listener.

The insurrectionists in Congress, and the growing choir of fascist voices among us, create a sticky web of propaganda meant to ensnare the unsuspecting or the intellectually and emotionally vulnerable, impressionable and unprepared. It is a demonstrable fact that we are largely an ahistorical Nation with a citizenry overwhelmingly oblivious to basic civics let alone the lessons of history. This has certainly helped set the stage for what we are now seeing.

Watch what they do and what they produce. Ask who it is they serve. Examine the central propositions. Do they pass the smell test?

What are their sources of information and are they reliable and verified? How so? We need to take apart the narrative that fuels the propaganda machine. Case in point: a member of my own family recently challenged my eagerness for the Covid 19 vaccine with the warning that it causes sterilization.

Above all, we must examine our own hearts. If what is being said arouses our passions and reflex acquiescence, we need to start with what’s going on in us. What about the argument being advanced (or the story being told) speaks so loudly to us? On what emotional basis are we inclined to take in the message without a healthy skepticism as to its veracity without any further examination?

Propaganda has no force or command whatsoever if we avoid lazy regurgitative thinking. We are imprisoned by ideas only to the extent that we avoid an examination of their roots and the dynamics of our own motivated reasoning. The only way to avoid the slippery slopes that lead to dystopias is to really think!

Accept nothing without a search for convergent truth: a conclusion arrived at only after seeing things from different perspectives, sources and methods of fact gathering.

Through the prophetic imagination of acclaimed writers of dystopian fiction the likes of George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Ray Bradbury, Margaret Atwood, Anthony Burgess, or CS Lewis (to name just a few), a few things emerge as common causes of a nation’s slide toward fascism:

– “might makes right” politics and the erosion of civil discourse, true debate, and mutual regard as shown in resorting to ad hominem demonization;

– a rise in class warfare and fear of the loss of privilege by the “ majority”;

– erosion of a social contract upholding clear standards or right and wrong ( ethical fuzzy logic);

– weakening of the centrality of the dignity of families;

– fear of diversity and loss of a sense of homogeneous national identity;

– rapid increase in the use of depersonalizing technologies;

– deterioration of the rule of law;

– erosion of accountability and governmental checks and balances;

– a war on competence, expertise and intellectual rigor;

– insatiable social appetite for passive entertainment ( reality tv), or the love of spectacle that eclipses thoughtful reading and analysis;

– assault on the dignity of a free press and the decline of journalistic integrity;

– punditocracy.

Even this partial list of diagnostic signs ought to make us tremble a bit.

Fiction often becomes fact.

We have seen a great number of dystopian movies, books, screen plays and TV series in recent years ( e.g., Hunger Games, Wall-E, Jericho). Modern art also has seemed to move toward ever greater celebration of banality, anomie, materialism and crassness.

There are numerous sociopolitical and cultural signs of a slide toward mediocrity, superficiality, lean edutainments and a will to rest on the laurels of the past.

We are witness to a gathering storm. Are you troubled by it?

Are you seeing it and the enormity of the threat to the values that our fathers and mothers fought so very hard to secure?

Our country is in desperate need of principle- centered, high-integrity leadership, an engaged and inquiring electorate, and a call to restore the vision the Nation was founded upon. The new Administration coming into Washington is a start, but we each must do our part as true patriots to help solidify a return to right order.

My father in law served at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 when it was bombed by the Japanese Zeros. I am thinking a lot about him these days and of all those men and women that fought so bravely for democracy, many of whom made the ultimate sacrifice. He would be appalled by the events we are witnessing. We owe it to them to stand up to the march of fascism in this country.

The more difficult enemy is always the one within. Domestic terrorism is on the rise because we have allowed it to rise. To right the ship of state, we need to remove the counterfeit “ leaders” in Washington that cave to the pressure from white supremacists, or who are themselves of that ilk. We either own this democracy or risk losing it for our children and grandchildren.

2021 is the year of the Call to democratic stewardship of a badly wounded Nation after the disgraceful last four years of a tortured and lethal dance with a dictator in the White House.

Never again!

By our fruits we shall be known!

© The Harried Mystic, 2021 and Br. Anton, TSSF. of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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