Time and circumstances sure can wear down a guy. Propaganda doesn’t help much either.
Apparently, the Second Law of Thermodynamics — everything left to itself eventually runs out of steam and falls apart — doesn’t just apply to the physical universe. Indeed, energy fizzles out, unrefrigerated meat spoils, old, abandoned cars rust away. But salutary thinking and moral resistance give out, too; if not vigilantly, stubbornly maintained.
All this comes to mind as we hear talk of “the new normal”; a phrase in vogue for several years now. In the wake of the latest New York City terror attack — a radicalized Muslim Uzbek in a rental truck
purposefully mowing down a bunch of Manhattan bystanders — there was renewed scuttlebutt about simply having to get used to such atrocities. I suspect not a few folks felt the same about the Las Vegas and more recent Sutherland Spring Baptist Church slaughters. We gotta accustom ourselves to such things — just the way it is nowadays …
Pardon me for refusing to be a passivity party-pooper, but I ain’t buying it.
America was tamed and settled by pioneers who stared down a continent-engulfing wilderness and plunged into it, axe, wagon and rifle in hand, hearts set on transforming what had dauntingly been “the normal” for time immemorial. A fresh dose of that attitude is in order in the face of the ghastly “new normal” that looms everywhere.
This surrenderist chatter gained additional purchase during the previous administration as, on some fronts, the economy had obstreperously refused to budge upward. Two-percent annual economic growth? We’re blandly counselled that’s about all we should expect as far as the eye can see.
Playing along that two men playing house and cuddling one another in public equals a “marriage”? No longer fazed that couples’ first child, routinely, emerges onto the scene before mom and dad bother walking the aisle? Everyone else might fashionably chalk this up to twenty-first century, “new normal” sexuality. Meantime, somebody’s got to stand up and say, “Nope. Not acceptable.”
I thought that’s what being a “conservative”, and even more so, a “conservative Christian” was all about.
So, politics is now, inevitably, to be conducted in the most brutish terms? Everyone’s knife-fighting in the mud, partisan hypocrisy and venomous sliming de rigueur on all sides? Pols who don’t just challenge bad ideas, but scurrilously destroy those holding them, are suddenly exemplars to mimic?
Too many of those who once ardently insisted sturdy character matters in our leaders, have suddenly buckled. Former Reaganites and devotees of the “Christian Right” are now approvingly echoing Saul Alinsky’s unscrupulous Rules for Radicals. That’s just politics in 2017! we’re lectured peevishly. The other side doesn’t abide by any decency standards — we can’t afford to, either, if we want to win.
We’ve come to expect the Progressive Left to roll with such faddish, secularistic tides. What is shocking — and demoralizing — is when the other side – conservatives! — exhibits the same modus operandi. “By any means necessary” is currently, the behavioral cri de coeur of folks who otherwise reverently cite the Constitution. Or the Bible.
Once more, count me out.
Stipulated: wickedness in its multifarious forms will always be a dolorous presence on the planet — at least until the Creator remakes everything. On that issue, debate over.
That’s a far piece, however, from yielding to said darkness presently, lying down before it, defeatistly accommodating ourselves to its advancement and escalation — and rationalizing that capitulation as “the new normal”. No, no; we are to blunt this malignancy wherever we encounter it, resisting it, reversing it.
While one-million unborn people continue to be snuffed out per annum under the antiseptic label “choice”, the “new normal” is flagrantly intolerable. When divorce and “co-habitation” are pandemic as the nuclear family crumbles around us, the status quo can no longer be facilitated. When entire clans flow thoughtlessly from generation to generation with nary a member ever holding a job, earning a paycheck — effectively wards of the taxpayers, err, state — societal shoulder-shrugging has plainly gone too far.
So, how to respond?
Refuse to sweep aside rock-bottom principles that have ably served humanity for centuries. Y’know, those anchors which are supposed to hold us in a beneficial place when cultural turbulences would rather scuttle us.
Keep “first things” — primary truths — planted immovably before your mind’s eye; and those of others. “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within” (Romans 12:1 – Phillips Translation). “[T]hink on whatsoever things are just … pure … lovely … of good report …virtu[ous] (Philippians 4:8). Remind yourself of them, publicly announce them, make the case for them, live them out — even if you’re a lonely figure defying the trendy, contrary and corrosive crosswinds of the day.
Three-decades past, Alexander Solzhenitsyn challenged a Harvard graduating class: “A decline in courage may be the most striking feature which an outside observer notices in the West in our days … particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite.”
Never lose sight of the big picture, the distant-future perspective. Sometimes decades are required, but those fundamental axioms that have benefited individuals and communities well-before our era usually circle back to re-affirm their soundness.
In one of his blessedly more elevated moments, President Trump lately pressed G-20 members: ““The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive … [T]he confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? … [T]he desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?”
Do Christians and conservatives have the crust to refashion the “new normal” into something more like the best of the old one? Something noble and praiseworthy, that’ll go eyeball-to-eyeball with the Second Law of Thermodynamics and command it, “Stand down!”?