There are a lot of sayings (yes, a lot of them from the Bible) that seem pretty silly when you’re a kid. Take the thing of hiding your light under a bushel. I knew what a bushel was because they were these reed things used for measuring corn when you bought it (mostly for the chickens) by the bushel-full. I also knew what the lamp referenced was, because we still had a ton of them around — electricity supply being spotty and the house weirdly wired — they were the oil lamps where we would spend the morning cleaning them and trimming the wick. They were dangerously flammable (at least in the mind of a little kid), got very hot, and putting them under a bushel was just asking for trouble. So the light and bushel thing got filed under bizarre things adults say. You know like “I wish I were your age” (Why? You want your every minute controlled?) or “don’t eat sand”.
Later when I got the whole quote I realized it wasn’t quite as silly, but also didn’t apply to me in any way, shape or form. There was no stretch of the imagination, even in my moments of greatest egotism, that I considered myself “the light of the world” or “a city upon a hill.” As for the people called “the salt of the Earth” they tend to be the solid, steady people, unquestioning and loyal, who live rock-ribbed lives. Me, with my perpetual questioning and my either over driving myself or slacking off to near dangerous points? I was never that.
I have a friend who is an atheist, but who knows the Bible — old and new testament — better than I do, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to find that he also owns an annotated Torah. He says that these books are some of the most valuable repository of wisdom in western civilization. In a way they are the warp and weft that has made Western civilization so distinctive compared to all that came before and all that still exists around the world. It set in different ways of being that made us who we are, now, at so many removes that we don’t remember why this is the way our civilization is.
He might very well be right, because I keep catching myself in figuring out that there is something I discounted as “that’s for extra special holy people, not me.” And then I find out, well, no, if everyone were like this it would make a big difference. Whether it glorifies our Father in Heaven or not (I don’t have a particular feeling I’m good at that, either) it short circuits some of the ah…. malware that is taking Western civilization apart. It is the “repair patch” you apply over the malware that sure seems to be designed to destroy the West.
You don’t have to believe in the greater religious significance of the documents, just to see them as well…. “simple rules for living.” To coin a phrase.
When I first started this blog, I was so scared of saying anything even vaguely offensive or causing ripples that I often went months without writing. When I started writing more, my articles tried to be as anodyne as possible, but often stuff leaked in, and my friend Pat said “I think you’re a happy warrior.” He couldn’t be more wrong. I’m still not a happy warrior. I don’t like fighting or disagreement or confrontation. Partly because I’m empathetic, but partly because when my hands start shaking I know the berserker is about to activate, and I’m bad at containing it (it hurts) and also it’s hard to let it out when my only instrument is a keyboard. And partly…
Partly because I grew up under socialist regimes (both kinds. Whee. Though the national socialists didn’t bother me much, since they were toppled when I was 11. Just as well, given my temperament I’d have become a communist to spite them, and that would involve turning off large portions of my rational mind) and occasionally communist (never quite openly declared, but when socialists are being accused of being right wing, you know where you are. At any rate, as my history book said “socialism is the way to communism, the perfect society.”). This meant that at school you weren’t supposed to question the pap they were pouring out. You were supposed to absorb and regurgitate. Extra points for figuring out the principles of the pap and coming up with angles your teacher hadn’t thought of.
I was very good at it. I did manage to absorb a decent education, somehow, around the indoctrination. But being smarter than the average bear (if often not acting it) I had the sense of preservation to realize that no matter how well I wrote and ciphered and read, I was not going to college unless I repeated the pap back and even improved on it. Since I was convinced I was so repulsive no one would ever marry me — there were reasons for that. Until 9 I had eczema all over my face and neck to the point I looked like a burn victim. You internalize people’s reactions to you at a very early age. — I had to go to college, or be an unpaid drudge in my parents’ house forever. I preferred the first. Like most smart people do. So I got really good at parroting things back.
And yes the left grades on ideology everywhere, in every field they take over. The proof is simple: if all the luminaries of a field are leftist, then yep, the field is being run by leftists, who grade/promote on ideology. Because if you study history there is not a single case where talent or intelligence were ALL on one side of an historical debate. The only people who believe that are people who believe in the rightness of their cause with religious fervor. And religion by definition is not rational.
I didn’t expect to find the same in the US, though I realized early on that leftism was a positional good. When you grew up where and how I did this was not difficult. All the upper class defined as higher education or more money parroted leftist views (often unexamined.) This was partly because they all read the same magazines and watched the same shows, which were uniformly left and which were considered “smart.” And people are social monkeys. They want to be smart.
I didn’t expect it to be so strong in publishing, to the point that you had to watch your every word and your every expression. I’m not good with that. Hell, my communist teachers were more lenient (partly because they never expected a ninth grader to be thinking “Good heavens, you’re a credulous guppy.”) Nor did I expect unapproved thoughts to be so quickly detected and to immediately put you in the “suspect” category. Things I’d got away with under leftist regimes, like saying “But note, this actually is worse for the oppressed, because…” And “Shouldn’t we instead…” were just slammed down upon hard. Partly it was that the structure here had been in place longer than in Portugal (national socialists punish open dissent and subversion, but by and large don’t care if you’re having unapproved thoughts, nor do they try that hard to ferret them out. Well, maybe the ones in Germany, but they were a different ball of crazy. Not so much in other countries. Socialists and communists, OTOH, think that utopia will come when everyone believes as they do, and so they must get in your head and ferret out your beliefs.) The people in power in the industries taken over by the left had gotten there by parroting the left and going a little further, as I did in school. They had never actually examined the beliefs, or thought about them. They were already second generation of people getting in that way. You not only can’t reason a man out of what he wasn’t reasoned into, but you can’t dispute a person’s belief that having a set of shibboleths makes someone “smart.” For me to say anything counter their religiously-held memes either made me stupid or evil. I was either too dumb to realize what I was saying revealed my stupidity, or I was trying to trip them up.
This mind set will be familiar to anyone who’s lived under a multi-generational authoritarian regime.
Well… I wasn’t stupid. But maybe there’s only so much one can keep one’s mouth shut, and I’d exhausted it by 22. I could kind of stay still, but I couldn’t do the extra of going a little further.
And as far as keeping my mouth shut, it was hard, and I had to watch myself all the time. But what can you do, when your income is, if not essential, what allows you as a couple to live beyond bare necessities, and traditional publishing is the only game in town. Oh, yeah, and news is controlled by the left by the same expedient as publishing. Only leftists are hired or promoted. No matter how much you know they’re fudging (like Heinlein, I’ve never been present at something reported in the media and found any resemblance between what I experienced and what was reported.) to say they’re lying is to go against consensus reality and be treated as a crazy person. Even if you were there.
I knew my time even working was limited. Until ….
Until things changed. Being an early adopter, I thought that the web would influence elections MUCH before 2016. I thought cracks would appear in the consensus and what a professional in my field called “the ability to be very rude to those who deserve it”in publishing would set in earlier, given indie. The world is often slower (or catastrophically faster) than I expect. In this case it was way slower.
But as I argue in MGC the parts of society taken by the left were also committing suicide. When ideology is the parameter for hiring and promoting, you’re not hiring or promoting the most able or competent. On top of that, since virtue signaling is all important, you’ll distort all of your actual work to fit with the ideology. Which in writing makes for very boring stories. And in other areas can make for outright bad results.
What can’t go on only goes on until an alternative is available.
And eventually an alternative comes into being.
Which brings us to where we are now. The left — and remember they’re in their third generation. The people my age are third, that is, with the younguns being the fourth. These people were raised in the serene confidence the way to be smart and successful was to mouth these unexamined “truths.” — no longer has control. In fact, every day, more control slips between their fingers, and they don’t fully understand why. You see, they didn’t have to think about it, or engineer their way in. That was the first generation after the take over. They just accepted these “truths” to BE. The same way they accepted belief in the arrow of history.
Meanwhile my giveadamn broke, because I was never going to be a good enough acolyte in the progressive mass, and I started speaking the truth as I see it, and as loud as I could. I’m not alone.
The reaction of the left to people like me is to run around bullying, shaming, and when we’re obviously beyond that (hey, one of my former editors once emailed me and tried to call me to get me to shut up. That was fun. This was the person publicly fantasizing about a Hilary presidency in 1999. To the acclaim of her listeners, all also NYC editors.) they slander us, and try to make as many people as possible think we’re evilbad people and they shouldn’t even read us, or think about us (because of course, that will contaminate them in some way and cause them to be shunned. Which of course only makes sense if examining the dogma of leftism is by definition to doubt it, and therefore to become a heretic.)
No one likes being attacked and slandered. I’m not a fan. Though these days mostly what it causes is a feeling of disgust so deep it acts as an emetic. This might be different for less case-hardened badevil people than myself, of course.
Think of it this way: These are people who for the sake of advancement and yeah money as well as power over others, voluntarily killed the questioning part of themselves (or as one of them called it “mindkilled”themselves.) I.e. they took their lights and covered them tight with a bushel, the best to fit in with darkness.
Those of us who dare to show a light and try to build lighthouses showing the shoals of history and how to avoid them, scare the heck out of them. They were taught light was bad. Our lights must be covered now, because they’re scary. They invalidate their “sacrifice”. They cast doubt on how “smart” they are for saying what “everybody knows” is true. They might even make the smarter of them suspect that they’re not the heroes in this stage of civilization, and that their way would lead to death and utter darkness. All of this is intolerable and must be stopped.
Ignore them. Light another lantern. Build another lighthouse. One sees better in the light.
You might not be the light of the world, but once a bunch of us light our lanterns, the world will be a brighter place.
Me? I’ve chosen. I’ll live in the light.