C.S. Lewis wrote, “When the whole world is running towards a cliff, he who is running in the opposite direction appears to have lost his mind.” It is hard to imagine what the prolific author would think of the western world were he alive today.
When I was in college in the early to mid-1970s, I attended a state university and took what was considered a liberal degree. In my social work major I took three courses that I remember well. One was “Deviant Behavior,” another was ‘Abnormal Psychology,” and the third was “Human Sexuality.”
In the relatively short period from then to now, the behaviors that were considered deviant and abnormal and signs of mental illness are now presented as mainstream. In fact, if one does not agree with certain practices and behaviors, that person is mocked, scorned, considered a “hater,” has a “phobia,” and is out of touch with the current reality.
In my high school, it wasn’t unusual for students to drive to school in a pickup truck with gun racks in the back window sporting long rifles and shotguns. Pocket knives were considered a useful tool to have on one’s person and no one ever had their guns stolen and not one person was shot or stabbed. No one was confused about which restroom to use and every person over the age of five knew which pronoun to apply to what gender.
In the area where I grew up, most people went to church or at least claimed membership in a church. For the few who did not, there was tolerance. For those denominations with whom one disagreed, there was always church league softball so the Baptists could try to beat the Methodists (or whomever) and both teams, though disagreeing on points of theology, would gather on the pitcher’s mound to pray before and after the game.
Men, and it was mostly men then, who went into the military or became a police officer or firefighter were looked up to and respected. So were teachers and those in the trades. If one could afford it, college was waiting and students went there to prepare for a career, not to waste their time on a degree that made one unemployable. Laws were to be obeyed and adults were to be respected and, in my world, it was regardless of occupation, sex, or skin color.
Now, at least to someone like me, It does indeed seem that the whole world (and by that, I mean the United States) is running toward a cliff. Several years ago, I said to my wife, “We are about to see the beginning of the decline of this nation as we have known it.”
Lawlessness reigns almost unabated. The governments deliberately fail to enforce laws, district attorneys cherry -pick who they will prosecute while felons go free, the police are told by political leaders to stand down and let rioters burn and loot, and … well I could go on and on.
When I was a teen and after the Beatles had appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, my father, a World War II veteran of the Navy, said, “I cringe for my country when I think about your generation taking over.” Sadly, he was right.
It was the Baby Boomer generation that got us started toward the cliff. That was the generation that got us into wars without victories. It was this generation that was the first to embrace abortion as a remedy to an inconvenient pregnancy. Ours was the generation that gave rise to the drug culture that is now an infestation affecting millions. We kept electing lying politicians who would become rich by staying in power.
My in-laws will be 94 this autumn. I cannot even begin to fathom what they must be thinking. Maybe, like me, they just don’t watch the news much anymore. In my view, we are facing catastrophic problems while those in leadership occupy themselves with issues that, in the long run, don’t matter and they can’t fix anyway.
There’s a cold wind blowing in the nation, and I fear it will bring disaster. But maybe not. There are still people, young and old, that hold to ancient values that have stood the test of time and are determined to fight the good fight.
Like Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, I am “still running against the wind.” I do so with the knowledge that, to paraphrase Lewis’ words, I will appear to many to have lost my mind. But I just can’t run with the crowd, even if it be “the whole world.” That world is running toward a cliff.
[David Epps is the Rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King (www.ctk.life). Worship services are on Sundays at 10:00 a.m. and on livestream at www.ctk.life. He is the bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-South (www.midsouthdiocese.life). He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]