the redbird cafe
Editor's Chair - May 16, 2004

"Betty, why does it increasingly feel like our world is hurling headlong into darkness?"

"If there are [others] who want to gain control over [the minds and/or bodies of] human beings, then why don't [the] people stand up and do something against it?  What is the cause of (our) indifference? Is it ignorance?"

"Why are you silent about what is going on in the news?"

"Where is your outrage?"

"There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." (Proverbs 14:12)

Some of you have written, wondering if I am on vacation.  I'm not.  The events of the past two months (9-11 hearings) have simply left me stunned.  

But the news of the past week has just left me near speechless.  How can I possibly squeeze all that I would say about all of this into a reasonable format? How can one SCREAM, and yet remain concise, succinct??  

Whatever was I thinking?   Americans have, after all, successfully eliminated every semblance of anything resembling a consistent moral or ethical barometer from our consciousness, schools, and churches.  We have instead become a proud nation of absolute relativism.  Anything goes.  Tolerance for everything.   Torture is good.   Shock and Awe!  Bring it On! (How can I squeeze tons of outrage through a #2 lead pencil...) 

Once, in the midst of the worst decade of my life, I was given a fortune cookie which read, “All is not yet lost.”   Judging from current events, I just don't know how much farther we can slide into depravity.  It feels like most of what I grew up believing about my own country certainly has been lost in the past three years.  Some kinds of "terrorists" have not just destroyed the WTC along with our innocence, they are now tearing our country apart.  They have divided us right down the middle--left or right, right or wrong; for the war or against the war.  To be a patriot now means to be pro-government, not pro-country. 

Why are so many sentient Americans evermore paralyzed, unable to criticize, to comment?   We, like lemmings, look to the evening news to lead us, to tell us all we need to know--how to think.  And when our own leaders and Congress reflect, “This is not torture; it is isolated abuse,”  we just stare blankly at the screen.  But no, NO, NO, NO!!!!!!!!!!!    We believe such crap because we want to believe it.  Questioning would force us to get up from our comfort zone.  Quit allowing this soft-pedaling of the truth.  Torture is torture!   Rape is torture!  Abuse is torture!  Neglect is torture.  Never, never, never is it justified.  It is inhumane.  (See: Geneva Convention Rules re: POWs)

If we had all owned digital cameras and access to the internet during Viet Nam, we would have seen a different "war" there, too. 
(See: My Lai Massacre--"Colin Powell, then a young US Army Major, was charged with investigating the massacre. Powell wrote: 'In direct refutation of this portrayal is the fact that relations between American soldiers and the Vietnamese people are excellent.' Later, Powell's refutation would be called an act of "white-washing" the news of the Massacre, and questions would continue to remain undisclosed to the public. Independent investigative journalist Seymour Hersh broke the My Lai story on November 12, 1969 and on November 20 The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) published explicit photographs of dead villagers killed at My Lai. The carnage at My Lai would have gone unknown in history if not for another soldier who, independent of Glen, sent a letter to his Congressman." ) --Source: My_Lai_Massacre

Ditto, W.W.II; ditto Civil War.  But even confronted with such profound, explicit evidence, Americans this week are experiencing difficulty ascertaining what they are seeing. Ironically, the ones who are having the hardest time with the evidence are those of us who still cling to the erroneous notion that humanity is mostly GOOD, underscored by our new American spiritualism—that we, Americans, are basically good.  

What narcissism.  What blind faith.  What horse manure.  What vanity!   In our society we must have become too comfortable anymore to really question what we now see and hear.  We would have all screamed before now if we weren't off in la-la land.  We would have all protested that gleeful World Wrestling Federation-esque mad-dog mentality surrounding "Shock and Awe" back in March, 2003.  But instead, in lieu of protesting, in lieu of seeking truth, we have sought to perpetuate our state of comfort above all else.  Self-absorption, does after all, create its own effective blinders and earplugs.  

Are we ignorant?  Many are.  I don't mean uneducated.  We are a very educated nation.  Lots of commas and credentials after our names.  We are in fact the most literate (per capita), prideful nation on earth--unwilling to see ourselves as we are, or as others see us.  (Just ask the French)  Rather, we see ourselves as we wish to be seen.  And we want to believe that we are basically good.  This is an old delusion, however.   It predates the Flood.  Our English Bibles inform us that honoring oneself is an old luciferian concept we readily and rather ignorantly embrace.  Our ancestors were originally entreated to doubt God and follow their hearts.  Today we are further encouraged to win at all costs.  At ALL costs.

The Bible goes on to say, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it...?”  (Jer. 17:3) But even today Bibles are being relegated to Antiquities bins in resale book stores and churches, as out of step with modern man...not politically correct.   Is truth out of step with modern man, as well?

 "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked...”

We cannot tolerate the propect.   We cannot bear the truth of it.   Deep inside, however, we know who we truly are.  We just hope no one else realizes it.  And as we project our idealized image to others, thereby hoping to convince ourselves,  we also hope the God of biblical scripture isn't real.  We pray that if He is, He will grade on a curve and ultimately usher us into that heavenly kingdom via the “merit system" (as in sports, education).  Surely He will weigh the good points against the bad points and favor us for the good….after all we are only human. We have so grown accustomed to a sports mentality; i.e., hard work = success, that we impose such logic on our notion of God, hoping such reasoning is ultimately reasonable.  Deep inside, however, we fear judgment as we continue to suppress the truth of ourselves.

And history demonstrates that we will even kill to suppress the truth of our hidden (secret) natures.  

We do not wish to be made to look at those unpleasant POW photos over and over.  We want to believe that such is just an isolated incident of insanity--perhaps battle fatigue—because that means that the rest, the majority of humanity, is basically good. 

Well, what about the Iraqis, then?  Were they all evildoers, even the Iraqi children—did they deserve such horrific treatment?  Do all blacks also deserve to be dragged behind trucks until dead?  Did the Jews deserve to be gassed?  Do women deserve to be raped?  Do children deserve to be sexually abused by priests?  Can we no longer see what is happening to us as a race—the HUMAN race—and say "enough is enough"? 

Do you not know that to live without rules for social behavior is to digress into anarchy, chaos? 

Just as we don't want others to know the truth about us, we likewise prefer to not know the truth of others.  We often wax theological to justify our unwillingness to discern such truth, “I don't JUDGE others for what they do or are.” And, "Didn't Jesus say, 'let he who is without guilt cast the first stone!' ” Funny how everyone reverts to Biblical quotes when trying to justify every one's right to remain indifferent.   Funny how we can always throw around enough bad theology to perpetuate our selfishness.  But if we had actually READ the Bible and actually studied scripture, we might have learned how wrong we are--that while we are indeed instructed against one type of judging (by appearance, random acts of condemnation), we are also exhorted regarding the necessity of another type of judgment—discerning truth.;&version=50; 

But, to protect the status quo, we wax theologically hypocritical, neither having studied nor truly read biblical scripture, as we vainly defend our status—not realizing whose hands we are truly playing into. 

Another favorite theological half-truth often thrown around is, “Well, after all…didn’t God create us ‘in His own image’—that means if WE are basically bad—He is too.”

Not so.  We were created in His image, but never given His natureBut that is another Editor's message.....

We avoid discerning the truth of the abject torture of those prisoners in Iraq because so doing enables us to avoid looking at our true selves. Denial is the preferred coping tool.  When we just can't turn away any more, excuse-making is the next preferred coping (avoidance) tool....I mean, ever since 9-11 we’ve really been looking for somebody's ass to kick haven't we?   Just lettin' off a little steam...  After all, isn’t this just an extension of a rabid SHOCK and AWE mentality?   With an ever-growing “Bring it On” mentality exacerbating “Shock and Awe” -- who can really blame those American soldiers for taking it to the next level?  They just needed an outlet for their wrath.  Old timers call it “lynch mob mentality.”   Perhaps we secretly enjoyed seeing those “towel headed terrorists” tortured, right? Meanwhile, we sew bits and pieces of justification together in some sort of fantastic un-reality quilt, and we drape it around us hoping to ever insulate ourselves from the mounting evidence of our TRUE TOTAL DEPRAVITY.  We tout degrees and lists of credentials in order to give credibility and support to our illusions.  Truth is, we are self-centered creatures who can no more face our own selfishness than we can face our own mortality. 

It takes real courage and hard work to face the truth.   The Bible says it takes an act of God.   Facing truth is a work diametrically opposed to our true natures (see image of God paragraph, above).   Our true nature is to serve ourselves.   We suppress truth so we can control the outcome.  We invest in appearances, in altered reality.  Appearances count.  Current TV programming demonstrates this with a plethora of “Extreme Makeover” programming; rooms, houses and yards, but the most popular is the one involving people; ugly ducklings turned into SWANS.  Hey if your life sucks, don't change anything, just get plastic surgery. We believe that by simply changing the outside, the inside will feel better.  Again, we are NOT creating something new—no new creature from an old one—we are merely altering that creature’s appearance.  Inside, it is still the same old creature.  Oh, one’s life may be temporarily impacted by changing one’s exterior, but one’s ultimate fate will ne’er be dissuaded by a fresh coat of paint.  And P.S. America will never become Utopia, people, not even if every single human being on earth were given an Extreme Makeover.  We will all still die, too.  The Bible says the wages for SIN is death.  But we don’t want to hear about it.  If self-absorption is its own blindfold and earplugs, self-deceit is an irresistible drug.  And narcissism is but a euphemism for SIN. 

We sense something needs to change, though—so why do we only aim at the exterior?   Because the media has increasingly informed us that how we look influences how others treat us.  And sadly, we put more blind faith in the media than in any religion.  In fact, HOW we look has become more important in our world than WHO we are.  But I thought we as humans are EVOLVING?  Getting better?  Truth is, we are only fooling ourselves.   And for all our millennia of efforts, we cannot achieve immortality.  (Do you REALLY believe humans evolved from big bang swamp slime?  Don’t you understand that the likelihood of us having evolved from a marsh microbe is about as likely as an explosion in a paper factory resulting in a fully alphabetized set of encyclopedias?)

We can neither outsmart God nor run away from Him. This, too, is vanity.  Inwardly we know He exists.....and we feel guilty, because, once again, we have suppressed evidence.  But like all truth, this, too, is not a popular message.  So we support deceit.  We do not look within to find truth, but to view the contents selectively.  Preferentially.  Our world has become so convoluted in its thinking that that we actually equate physical beauty with goodness.  Attractive, popular people can get away with lying better than others.  Look at Ted Bundy.  OJ Simpson.  We hide dark natures behind a pretty package.   The term whitewashing truth comes from the Bible. 

Jesus said, Whitewashed tombs which appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and of all uncleanness”and, “You cleanse the outside of the cup but within are full of extortion and excess.”   (Matthew 24)

We have indeed become a prideful nation of “whitewashed tombs…"

And if we seek to know God, we merely give lip service by attending only those churches/institutions that tell us we are basically good (the word SIN is not a nice word—it makes people feel bad).  We listen to how Jesus was just another carpenter, teacher, healer, maybe a prophet--but we turn away from hard-line messages that just might save us from a state of morbid vanity.  We do not easily hear that Jesus claimed to be God incarnate who lived on earth and died and rose from death to save us from ourselves. We reject those messages intended to turn us from self-destruction, while we demonize the messengers, inverting God’s value system on earth.  And we feel good about our own deception. 

How, therefore, can we expect to face the truth of what is happening on our planet? 

To compensate for our guilty knowledge of our true natures, some of us form or join service clubs; benevolent brother and sisterhoods--we give spare change to bums with signs, and try to save the whales. But what on earth are we thinking?  We can't even save ourselves—what kind of arrogance deems us capable of saving anything or anyone else?  

We are deluded. 

Evil does not originate from WITHOUT.  It lives within us.  Each of us.   All of us.  The chain is only as strong as its weakest link.  If vanity or SIN--as the Bible claims--is but our weakest link as a race, the chain cannot withstand pressure. 

We do not live in truth, we hide the truth of our own hearts, and we do not wish to face the truth of what is happening to our world. 

Our world cannot and will not change until our hearts change.  The evidence of who are and what we have become, is confronting us more than ever before in history, and how are we coping?  By denying what we are being shown, ignoring the evidence, making excuses, minimizing reality, maintaining our status quo, persecuting others who deliver an opposing message, increasing self-interest and decreasing empathy; and by waiting for someone else to do something first…

We sit in comfortable recliners before the nightly news, and we glean support for doing nothing from plasticized makeover celebrities whom we *trust* to have unearthed truth for us, just like we trust others to inform us who God is.   And, just like with church, we will channel surf until we find a voice that tells us what we want to hear.

The destruction of humanity is a carefully planned event currently taking place.  It is an event that has been thousands of years in the making.  We are being manipulated by the media and intentionally misled.  People are unaware they are being manipulated because propaganda does not alter one’s ability to think, it only controls the outcome by offering false choices—conservative v. liberal, right v. left et al.  We have forgotten caveat emptor as we have unwittingly become participants in our own destruction by media seduction.  We are so preoccupied with self-interest and maintaining our creature comforts that we cannot face the truth of our existence, our world, and our impotence to change any of it.  We are continually subjected to propaganda that offers us limited choices.  Depression reinforces our immobility.  We cannot bear to think we have been so deceived.  We are being herded toward self-destruction like sheep being led to slaughter because we cannot any longer tell truth from lie—we have become tolerant of everything—and we are not protesting.   We think intolerance is a fatal character flaw….but, again, tolerance for everything results in chaos and anarchy, not order!!!!  

And we have forgotten, there were always consequences for every choice we were given....

We must not perpetuate this insanity.  We cannot keep channel surfing.  We cannot remain silent simply because the popular press and our government have demonized those opposing voices.  We must take the high, hard road.  We must begin by questioning all that we believe we are truly seeing on the nightly news.  We must not turn away any more.  True peace will never be achieved at the expense of Truth.

Distinguished Irish orator and politician, Edmund Burke, once wrote; “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”  We may not be truly good, but we CAN truly do something.  We can begin right now.  Demand accountability from all those on whose watch such crimes occurred.   No longer accept, “I didn’t know, I don’t’ remember,” as excuses. 

Otherwise, all is truly lost.

-- Betty