lord of the flies

“From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step.”
Denis Diderot

“Maybe there is a beast… maybe it’s only us.”
William Golding, Lord of the Flies


(I used this image back in June, but it fit so well today)

I suppose the reading of certain books during our time spent in high school
lit classes is all a part of the adolescent right of passage.

Most folks my age read such books as Animal Farm, Catcher in the Rye,
A Farewell to Arms, The Old Man and the Sea, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Crucible,
1984 (yes published in 1949 and I read it long before 1984),
The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men…the list goes on and on.

Some books I enjoyed.
Some books I loathed.
Some books left me unsettled.

Lord of the Flies was just one such book.

No happy ending there.

It was a tale that left me terribly unsettled.

Any sort of story showcasing those who are oh so civilized one minute while
quickly falling into barbarism the next,
when all the trappings of modern life suddenly disappear,
leaves me less than happily settled—

Perhaps because it is a blatant reminder of how thin is the veil that separates
modern man from his animalistic alter ego …
and yet that was indeed the author’s intent…
A stalk reminder…..

I was in high school just past those heady days of Woodstock and Flower power.
The early 70’s were to be a time of reemerging.
We were coming up for air from an unpopular war, grave national unrest,
sit-ins, love-ins as a president was preparing to leave office in disgrace…
people wanted to reset and move forward.
Our naiveté was long gone.

Sounds as if I could be talking about today….

We read the works of writers who addressed such feelings..some being current, some
simply ahead of their time.

And it appears as if I am not alone in my recollection of my required reading
of such a tale…

The newly consecrated bishop of the Christian Episcopal Church of Canada and the US,
The Rt. Reverend Dr Gavin Ashenden, also recalls reading Lord of the Flies.

I found his post Wednesday to be most timely as he touched on an issue I’ve been
referencing in just these past many days…

That being the Nazis and their obsessive need to plunder, loot, and burn millions of books… in an all out attempt to control the thought processes of those they
wished to manipulate and rule while at the same time obliterating an entire
swarth of humanity.

“I can understand why the Nazis burned books.

One book can subvert a whole culture.

Perhaps one of the most subversive books I’ve known was “Lord of the Flies”
by William Golding.
I must have read it when I was 14 or 15.

It tells the story of a group of schoolboys whose plane crashes onto a remote island.
They survive the crash, but descend into violence and chaos and finally murder.
They lose all the trappings of civilisation, inside and out, in a very short time.

This was and is a shocking book.
It called the bluff of moral progress and ethical evolution.
Our civility is just skin deep Golding was saying.
From the moment I finished the book,
I knew that Golding was right and that progressive politics was based on a
misjudgment of human nature.
Our ethical progress was just skin deep, and could be lost in an instant.

I keep on being haunted by images of Nazi book burning and the smashing up of
Jewish shop fronts from Germany in the 1930’s.
Something like a collective madness came on the people of Germany.
It really seemed to erupt almost out of nowhere.
How could such a civilised people, the children of Goethe and Beethoven,
so swiftly become the breeding ground of Nazism, with its book burnings, thuggery
and ultimately the horrifying and very Golding-like final solution?”

The good Bishop goes on to explore the similarites he sees between the current acts of violence taking place on both sides of our collective pond in regards to the
progressive liberal groups and their lack of tolerance, or perhaps allowance would be a better word, with the more conservative and Christian groups over the current battle
lines.

Bishop Ashenden notes in particular a rather nasty incident taking place in Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park when several protesting groups converged.

It seems that a 60 year old feminist sort of protester was punched in the face by a transgendered male dressed as a female type individual,
who after punching said 60 year old woman in the face and knocking her to the ground,
then ran ran off.

Ashenden makes a rather stalk comparison between a now and then sort of moment:
“Mindless thugs beating their opponents in public were not the preserve only of the Brown Shirts in Berlin, of state apparatchiks in Moscow, but it’s odd to find gender activists demonstrating in favour of love, peace, tolerance and inclusion, beating up elderly feminists at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park.”

Ashenden goes on…
“A great deal is made by the left that the threat of violence comes from the
‘far Right.’ In fact the press and media don’t bother with the ‘Right’ any more.
Anything less than socialist is called ‘Far-Right, – or Nazi.
There is no near-right, or middle right, or further right; just Far-Right.’

You may read the full post here:

‘Far-Left’ and ‘Far-Right’ need to be replaced by ‘Far-UP’.

The irony of our current thuggery groups behaving so terribly badly while they shout
for rights, proclaim justice, preach love, and of all things, demand tolerance….
all the while commencing to malign and beat to a pulp those who oppose their current
trend of senseless thoughts……

They might do well to reread a book or two from their day’s in lit class.

Barbarism is but a step away from the the civilized…..

“You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father.
He was a murderer from the beginning,
and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him.
Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature,
for he is a liar and the father of lies.

John 8:44

disrespect found in a den of iniquity

Discourtesy does not spring merely from one bad quality,
but from several–from foolish vanity, from ignorance of what is due to others,
from indolence, from stupidity, from distraction of thought,
from contempt of others, from jealousy.

Jean De La Bruyere

jeopcollege2017group_990x557
(the 2017 Jeopardy college championship, with our little friend from Stanford on the far right)

Disrespect….

I’m pretty certain that I’ve rambled on about this little topic before…
and here I am finding myself, once again, addressing the whole
notion of respect vs disrespect, morality vs immorality…
as I caught a little story in the news this morning that has left me troubled…

And it seems as if the story centers on, of all things, the college
championship competition on Jeopardy…
as if sadly, nothing is currently off limits…
particularly when it comes to this notion of respect…
even the benign bastion of all things related to trivia being apparently fair game…

Disrespect, which actually walks hand in hand with it’s first cousin immorality,
as in each are the mirror effect of respect and morality,
are two negative human traits that if left unchecked, unaddressed….
two actions that left either ignored or simply tolerated,
are two of the key undoings of any society.

For disrespect, and its cousin immorality, lead directly to the erosion of civility.
The erosion of civility, in turn, is the undermining of any civilization…
all of which leads directly to anarchy.

Throughout much of the history of humankind, it has been the youthful ones
who have had the most trouble with these two notions…
that of both respect and morality.

There is a time in all growing up when these two choices, or perhaps more aptly put,
decisions in behavior, come powerfully and dangerously into, well, jeopardy.
Be it testing the waters with a devil may care lifestyle,
the growing pains found in a struggle for independence or simply part and parcel
of growing up… that time period between late adolescence and early adulthood
is a murky pool swarming with defiance, emotional roller coasters and lots of
poor choices…

In times past, society had done well to nurture its angst filled youth through these
troubling waters…
today however, we are witnessing a dangerous anomaly taking place on
college campuses all across the country….
An enabling of the molly coddling coupled by a dangerous ideology of a liberal manifesto
found not in what was once considered to be the bulwarks of higher education but rather
now found in places that are considered nothing more then dens of iniquity.

Society now not only tolerates the anger filled intolerance of the self-centered youth,
it is embracing it and them with a heinous zeal while affording these young people the
luxury of living a Peter Pan type of lifestyle…as in never having to grow up and
accepting responsibility for the poor choices of their negative actions.

On this particular Jeopardy episode, three kids from various colleges were competing
for the college championship.
During the brief meet and greet portion of the show, Alex asked each student
a question allowing them a brief time of explanation.

One nice looking young man from Stanford was asked a question about his major.
While answering Alex’s question, this young man was, it appeared, to be not only
talking with his hands as he responded to the question,
but one hand was actually raised while he was coyly shooting a bird for the cameras.
For roughly 10 seconds, this kid talked while shooting a bird on national television.

I actually saw this particular episode and never noticed.
But why would I….
why would I think a competitor would want to act like a fool on a national platform?
Alex apparently didn’t notice either.
But Twitter noticed.

Someone tweeted out about the incident with the student quickly responding,
“damn right I did”

Really??

Now why pray tell would some kid, who is sporting the sweatshirt of his college,
proud to be representing his college in a national televised competition want to
show his butt by shooting a bird while casually explaining his college major
to the host of the show?

Rude comes to mind.
As well as selfish.
Selfcentered.
Arrogant…
Disrespectful…

I was angry.
Mad at this blatant act of total disrespect to not only Alex the host, but to
the crew, this student’s fellow competitors, his parents, the audience..
both in the studio and those of us at home.

So now, as a society, do we decide to tolerate this cheeky kid’s behavior?
Do we choose to ignore his disrespectful behavior?
Do we opt to laugh it off as merely brash?
Do we simply chalk it up to youthful ignorance?
Do we shrug it off as just a kid being kid…?

Or do we say enough.

Do we say grow up kid.
Man up, as it were.
Step up to the what it means to be and act like an adult.
Do we respond with a “you think you’re so smart, then act it?”

Maybe his winnings should be forfeited for his disrespectful behavior…
Maybe Stanford should be reminded about the type of “ambassadors”
they’re sending out as representatives of their fine institution of all
things educational.
Maybe it would behoove all of us to recall that actions, all actions,
have consequences…
instead we’ve chosen to turn a collective blind eye to
poor behavior….

Having a lack of respect leads not merely to the obvious opposite of disrespect…
but rather it leads to contempt…
contempt of both one’s self as well as others…
eventually leading us all down the chaotic path to the loss of soul
found only in anarchy.

http://nypost.com/2017/02/24/jeopardy-contestant-gives-trebek-the-finger/

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.

“Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’
You blind fools!

You snakes!
You brood of vipers!
How will you escape being condemned to hell?

Matthew 23:13-17,33)

The depravity of craziness

I don’t think that you can let the storms of life overwhelm you.
When you do that,
you are no better than the craziness that caused you to be under attack.

T. D. Jakes

RSCN2866
(blooming Japanese maple / Julie Cook / 2016)

Who among us, who is alive, breathing and kicking…
Isn’t scratching their heads in pure wonderment over
this growing maelstrom,
otherwise known to the world as…
the US Presidential Race…???

Firstly the word embarrassment comes to mind…

From the hateful exchanges between candidates…
(the he said, she said, you said, they said…no they didn’ts)

From the loss of civility among educated adults…
(who actually says this kind of stuff…in private let alone in public…
and is actually proud of it??)

From the loss of civility among adults…
(just look at any campaign rally to see grownups, and not so grownups, behaving badly…
very, very badly)

From the hateful remarks by the candidates about the voters…
(last I checked people were voting and voting in a big way for these people so that alone should stand by
itself as some sort of testament to the condition, perceived or real, by the voters of this country—or have we and the candidates forgotten that the voters do matter and should not be perceived as idiots…
as the candidates and the news media assume us all to be…)

From the ridiculous questions asked by the news media of the candidates…
(“did you have an affair…” Not rather the more pressing or pertinent or real questions
such as “what will you do for the economy, what will you do about ISIS, how will you help heal this hurting Nation…
Sadly it is rather the gossipy and salacious…
that scintillating dribble of questions worthy only of tabloid fodder)

From the globally wide laughing joke we’ve become…
(the world now sits dumbfounded, as do I, watching this mockery of our nation’s highest office…)

From the endless sea of mindless freak show spectacles debates…
(how many times and or ways can a person say the same thing??
Or perhaps it’s really just a way to watch them all slowly continuing putting their shoes
and high heels into their mouthes….)

To the frightening reality that one of these 4 individuals (the 5th is just hanging around,
or so we are told) will be the next President of the United States of America—
(As we may note that the word “united” is becoming a bit iffy)

Becoming the President of the United States is a big deal.
It is a VERY big deal.
Yet I fear these 4 (or 5 if you’re still counting) get it.
I don’t think the news media gets it.
I don’t think this country gets it…

Or maybe that’s it…
Maybe the Country no longer cares…
As in it has all merely swirled into a giant mess of pure political anarchy—
as if politics hadn’t been bad enough,
it’s now turned sadly into more of a circus then an organized process.

A free for all…
An all out, knock down, drag out…
fists flying…
name calling…
every dirty trick in the book…
MESS…

All the while as our media, our entertainment industry and our economic machines wrangle with every sneaky hook and crook maneuver to steer the election into their own personal favored corner…
forget the vote of the democratic little person that makes this country what it is…

I realize that politics and voting and governments have never been as they should be–
On the up and up,
models of decorum
the pinnacle of civility
a seamless process
a one size fits all sort of business…

People are people…sadly
And they have been known to beg, borrow and steal…
Plus throw in a little bit of lying, demoralizing, swindling and scandalizing of one another…

But this year, I think most of us would sadly agree, it has fallen to an all time low—on all sides of the spectrum….

Such that I have very real and very grave concerns for this Nation as a whole…
Most folks my age and older do as well…
I think we call that hindsight.

Yet a fellow blogger and brother in Christ, Wally over on Truthinpalmyra.wordpress.com posted a wonderful little placard yesterday that stated:
No matter who is president, Jesus is King…

I find great comfort in knowing that as the world around me oozes away, lost unto itself and to its own depraved craziness…
Jesus Christ remains the Resurrected Lord of All….

All hail the power of Jesus’ name!
Let angels prostrate fall;
bring forth the royal diadem,
and crown him Lord of all.
Bring forth the royal diadem,
and crown him Lord of all.

Ye chosen seed of Israel’s race,
ye ransomed from the fall,
hail him who saves you by his grace,
and crown him Lord of all.
Hail him who saves you by his grace,
and crown him Lord of all.

Sinners, whose love can ne’er forget
the wormwood and the gall,
go spread your trophies at his feet,
and crown him Lord of all.
Go spread your trophies at his feet,
and crown him Lord of all.

Let every kindred, every tribe
on this terrestrial ball,
to him all majesty ascribe,
and crown him Lord of all.
To him all majesty ascribe,
and crown him Lord of all.

Crown him, ye martyrs of your God,
who from his altar call;
extol the Stem of Jesse’s Rod,
and crown him Lord of all.
Extol the Stem of Jesse’s Rod,
and crown him Lord of all.

O that with yonder sacred throng
we at his feet may fall!
We’ll join the everlasting song,
and crown him Lord of all.
We’ll join the everlasting song,
and crown him Lord of all.

All Hail The Power Of Jesus Name
words by Edward Perronet (1780)
Tune Coronation by Oliver Holden

Civility

“When once the forms of civility are violated, there remains little hope of return to kindness or decency.”
– Samuel Johnson

DSCN1380
(photograph: Callaway Gardens Butterfly House/ Pine Mt., GA/ Julie Cook/ 2013)

As a teacher, as well as a parent…not to mention just being a human being, the idea of civility—that of a civil society, is something that has always been very important to me. I use to stress, to my students, the importance of rules, along with the accompanying of certain positive actions—not a laundry list mind you of endless does and don’ts, but rather a basic list—-a list of simple classroom rules along with the consequences of not following those rules, that would keep our world, in Room 202, afloat.

A list of rules that we could all live by—happily, comfortably, agreeably… with everyone’s safety in clear sight. I would tell them that some rules are most necessary for a “civil” society—otherwise we’d succumb to the pure pandemonium known as anarchy—which I know appeals to that daring sense of the teenage mind of damning the adult’s status quo, but for those of us who have hindsight, such is indeed invaluable to life.

I am becoming ever more wearisome with what I observe being the lack of civility in our modern day society–so much so that I grow gravely distressed. Oh you can call me old fashioned if you wish—at 53 I hate thinking I’m categorized into the group of having one foot in the proverbial “home” or worse, grave, but I suppose some reading this may just check me off as simply being of a different time.

Is it being from a different time that causes me to not appreciate hearing the “F word” at each and every turn when at the mall, crossing a street, in a restaurant, watching a ball game and reading a player’s or coach’s lips or walking down the hall at school…only to have the list go on and on? When did such a word, which is, in its origin, considered vulgar slang, become common place? That we now, as a society, condone vulgar slang as “ok”? That our music, movies—our overall entertainment, is saturated with such—that which was once used for “effect” has become all but common place……is that a good agreeable thing to be accepted?

That our politicians work harder at the practice of digging “dirt”, more so than the practice of governing and managing the Law –is even more than alarming. That we are more concerned with condemnation before we even consider common ground let alone reconciliation. That our news media relishes in the lashing out at any American whom they deem “on the wrong” side.

Having grown up as an American, the only wrong side I ever thought to be at issue was if one was anti-democracy! I grew up thinking it was ok to be an American who disagreed as you were still an American—now, however sadly, if the news media finds you in disagreement with their line of thinking, you are considered an enemy of the State–depending on the news station’s affiliation with two simple words–liberal or conservative….hummmmm, I don’t like where that all seems to be headed.

I liked life when we were kinder to one another, when we were considerate to one another. We held doors open for one another, we said yes mam or yes sir even if we were grown ourselves, we weren’t too busy or too self-consumed that we didn’t notice the young mother trying to get out of the busy grocery store pushing a full cart and keeping two young children from running out ahead of her into a busy parking-lot not hesitating to offer a hand. I liked it when television was not laced with profanity, when people thought about what they wore out in public and left the pajamas at home.

The Italian academic Pier Massimo Forni, a professor at John Hopkins University and the founder of the Civility Initiative has a tremendous insight when discussing the importance of a civil society….
“Civility means a great deal more than just being nice to one another. It is complex and encompasses learning how to connect successfully and live well with others, developing thoughtfulness, and fostering effective self-expression and communication. Civility includes courtesy, politeness, mutual respect, fairness, good manners, as well as a matter of good health.”

This thought coming after, this past week, the world witnessed a gross lack of civility in the Italian Parliament where Italy’s first black MP took to the floor and fellow MPs greeted her by throwing bananas. It’s one thing to argue in disagreement, it’s another entirely to dehumanize a fellow human being. It is this dehumanizing our of fellow man/ woman that is now becoming the norm…spiraling out of control as the social filter of civility has gone out the window.

Decorum, civility, manners, morality…however you wish to name it, is woefully lacking in our lives—and we as a people, a “civilized” group of people, are the less for it. We become “less than” in a very negative way, we sadly value ourselves less and less. I merely hold firm to these words uttered by the famous anthropologist Margaret Mead….“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”

Let us hope for a thoughtful group of “citizens” who may be out there somewhere who can remind us all of the importance of our kindness, our thoughtfulness, our playing fair and playing by the rules, by knowing the difference between right and wrong, by demonstrating respect for all, reminding us that it’s ok to disagree, that it’s still important to possess respect for things and people older and wiser than ourselves, to smile more and fuss less…..that we may recall the greatest commandment….to ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40 NIV).

Remember you are a civil individual.