All the World’s a Circus…

pennywise

… and all men and women merely clowns.

I wish! I don’t mean that kind of a circus. I mean the Roman kind. (Well, maybe evil clowns would be accurate.)

Previously, when the thought would pop into my head that the world and our culture was beyond repair, I used comfort myself with the thought that at least we weren’t gathering in large crowds to watch people die bloody deaths for the sake of entertainment yet. And the world of that day made a turnaround. Maybe we weren’t utterly lost.

That comfort is waning fast.

Do you ever have one of those last-straw experiences that make you say, “Stop the planet! I want to get off!”? I have them often.

My most recent came a day or two ago. And it was a bad one. It’s eaten away at me till I decided I had to blog about it. It was one of the most bizarre news stories I’ve ever run across.

A Mexican-American man in his company truck drove by a group of Black Lives Matter protestors as he was hanging his arm out the window. Another motorist took a picture of the man’s arm and hand hanging out the window (along with the company truck and logo on the side) and posted it to Twitter with a story implying that the man had been making a racist gesture with his hand. In the photo, the man’s hand can be seen to roughly form a circle between forefinger and thumb.

The story of the origin of this particular “racist gesture,” as I understand it, was a piece of Internet trollery, preying on the paranoia of the left, which was so spectacularly successful as to now have cost a man his job. I don’t blame the trolls, though.

The idea was to float the notion on the Internet that the “okay” hand signal (circled thumb and index finger and the other three fingers forming a sort of W) had been co-opted by white supremacists as a “white power” sign. (The three fingers are the W, and the circle is the P for “White Power.”) The gullible eagerly adopted the idea as gospel and began to see white supremacists under every bush every time someone innocently made the “okay” sign.

In the picture of the Mexican-American man’s hand, I can’t see even the “okay” sign. Just a sort of circle of his thumb and a finger. He asserts that he was only cracking his knuckles out the window out of habit and boredom as he drove. But none of this matters. The crowd must have its bloodsport. The company, after they identified the man in the picture, “investigated” the “incident” and fired the man.

The company claims,“We hold all SDG&E employees to a high standard and expect them to live up to our values every day. We conducted a good faith and thorough investigation that included gathering relevant information and multiple interviews, and took appropriate action.”

Uh-huh! It was a “thorough investigation” in “good faith” and nothing to do with a cowardly shrivelling-up at the mere thought of the wrath of the mob which resulted in the casual tossing of an employee to the lions to pacify the bloodthirsty cries of the spectators. If the “investigation” and the firing was all to do with the picture on Twitter and the “hand gesture” the man was supposed to have made, SDG&E had better lawyer up for the wrongful dismissal suit I hope and pray is headed their way. Like a freight train!

How can those who’ve manufactured this cultural climate possibly want to go on living in it? How could anyone want to live in a world like the one they’ve created? When is enough enough? Can the bloodlust of the crowd ever be sated?

It wasn’t enough when a soccer player for the L.A. Galaxy was cut loose from the team for his wife’s “racist and violent” tweet. And on and on and on. When I can stomach it and I scroll through my browser home page to glance at the news headlines, it seems that a strong quarter to half of them now are about this or that famous person (or regular person) who was offered up in the vain attempt to appease the mob. Sometimes it’s just a public shaming resulting in a grovelling apology for some imagined wrong, but often the human sacrifice is a job loss. Either one can ruin an innocent person’s life. But it’s never enough.

So when will those of us with a few shreds of sanity left (maybe? It’s fading fast.) say enough is enough. When will defamation and wrongful dismissal suits begin to skyrocket? I’m not a big fan of lawfare, but I am a big fan of justice, and I think it’s high time the law was injected into the mob rule, using what legal means we have at our disposal to fight the madness. Could the tide be turned if the cowardly became more afraid of lawsuits than they are of the screaming of the mob? With most of the decisions I see coming out of the courtroom these days, I’m not overly hopeful for justice from that quarter either, but at least the attempt could be made.

At the very least, those of us with the shreds of sanity left have to grow leather hides and steel spines. We have to speak truth calmly and quietly into the teeth of the madness and ignore the consequences. If we lose our jobs (so glad to be unemployed right now!), we have to find new ones. If we’re shamed, we have to shrug it off. We have to hang onto our sanity for dear life with both hands. And we have to speak out against the insanity. Some way, somehow. We have to live courageously. Regardless of results. It’s what we’re meant to do.

The Roman circus died out because of a Christian named Telemachus. Telemachus jumped into the arena in the midst of a gladiatorial combat to try and stop the men from fighting. He died as a result, but his courageous death so impressed the Roman emperor of the time that he put an end to the circuses.

Unlike the Roman world under the influence of Christianity, I don’t know that ours will change direction. It doesn’t matter. We have to do what we’re supposed to do in it, anyway. I would give in to utter despair over the present state of the world if I hadn’t been given ample advance warning of it’s advent. Coupled with hopeful assurance.

I’ve been hanging out in the book of Revelation these days. It’s a dark read shot through with streaks of hope. The bad news is that, ultimately, the world continues its downward spiral. In the end, things do not self-correct. They only get worse. The hopeful notes are that God is always in control, and the story of this fallen planet comes to a close one day. It may not sound hopeful that things on Planet Earth will wrap up one day, but I find great hope in knowing the end of the story. Human history has to stop somewhere. The madness will not perpetuate forever.

There are also hopeful hints in Revelation of a great future harvest. As the enemies of God in the book grow more embedded in their enmity, many, many others turn to Him.

I’m not saying we’re standing on the precipice of the book of Revelation and about to plunge in. I don’t know that. The world has gone crazy before, and yet it’s still here. I bring up my reading in Revelation just to offer up the notes of hope that I find in it. Hard times bring harvest times. God’s light shines brighter when the darkness grows blacker. Truth-seekers will find Him. I’m starting to see it.

I found another note of hope on YouTube recently, watching an interview with an actor who has spent the past few months facing down the mob for the crime of speaking the truth and making rational statements publicly. When I first watched his story unfold, I wasn’t aware of any religious leanings on his part. I was shocked but delighted when, in the recent interview, he began referencing God and the Bible and issuing a call for us all to seek those sources for the solution to our mess.

There are others. I’ve watched other public personalities I follow (who were sane enough not to go along with the madness of the crowd) go from avowed atheism and unbelief to belief and even embracing “the Way” (as the early Christians called their movement). Lovers of delusion will always find what they seek, but I’m coming to see that the lovers of truth will too.

Aslan is on the move! That’s what it looks like to me! No wonder the white witch is ramping up her efforts. She’s panicking! There are signs of spring in the air!