I have been thinking lately about our age of conformity. Two episodes in my life seem to have influenced my thinking on this subject. I went to college in Ohio in the late 1960’s and early 70’s and one Saturday morning I watched a civil rights demonstration in the Hollow of Wittenberg University. Thousands of students—boys and girls, professors and professional agitators—today we call them “community organizers” all dressed in denim blue jean jackets, denim hats, and blue jean pants with wool horizontal striped socks and black converse high top tennis shoes. The so called “Age of Aquarius” was really the age of conformity.
According to Greek mythology Aquarius (Garymede) was the slave of Zeus. The free spirit party atmosphere of the students in the hollow was not a reflection of the seriousness of their cause. Like Aquarius, they had become slaves to a higher power—not Zeus, but their own self-indulgence and desire to conform. Like every generation that proceeded them in every culture since the 15,000-year history of modern man, their self-worth came from the perception of belonging and staying connected. This is not all bad. Being part of a family, a community, and a team makes us feel connected. So does being a member of a gang. Being “woke” and “virtual signaling” are today words that describe what was happening on college campuses in the 1960’s.
The inappropriate connection in our lives unfortunately allows individuals the opportunity of not confronting our own individual faults, shortcomings, and sins. It has always been easier to blame others—especially those that came before us including our parents, for our faults. Forgetting to address “the log in our eye” offers us an opportunity to alibi. “Alibies destroy character.” We are responsible for our own actions, not the actions of others. Sin, forgiveness, and redemption are acts that proceed from the Covenant between God and man. Laws define the actions of people as they relate to each other. For Christians, the Laws of the Prophets, Kings and Judges of the Old Testament and the Promise of Jesus in the New Covenant serve as the bases of Natural Law that is the predicate for both relationships—religious and civic.
The second moment in my life occurred off the shores of St. Lucia in the Caribbean. I was sailing with my dear friend Tom Salzer whose father was with us and had just retired as a Vice Admiral from the Navy. We had another Vice Admiral on Board who was still on active duty. As we were sailing along the two Admirals opined about the teaching of leadership at The Naval Academy. One of the admirals stated that the problem was that we were teaching young officers to be Ensigns and Lieutenants. We were teaching young officers to “take orders” and not teaching them how to think strategically and “give orders”.
We were in essence teaching them to “conform”. The ones that conform the best are the ones that get promoted and rise to make Admiral and General. The young officers that think for themselves and out of the box leave the service. I believe that this is precisely what is happening today not only in military leadership, but in industry, academia, the clergy, and politics. People who think for themselves and speak out—many times stating what many of us believe, are pummeled in the press and by their peers—think Sarah Palin and Rand Paul. Think Churchill and Lincoln.
David Mamet in his recently released book, Recessional: The Death of Free Speech and the Cost of a Free Lunch—after the poem by Rudyard Kipling wrote: “The belief that everybody has to behave the same way is part of the breakdown of society”. I would argue that this has always been the case. To paraphrase THE GLORY BE—The Catholic Doxology—”As it was in the beginning it is now and ever shall be”. This also confirms God’s ultimate promise—”World without end”. The hope of His promise allows for people to not be scared and we conform because we are scared. People who aren’t scared because they believe in God’s promise don’t have to conform. They think for themselves. “Self-worth comes from believing in God’s promise”.
In RECESSIONAL Mr. Mamet points out that “everything is not new”. The generational march of civilization is only a reenactment of Biblical Events—look at how the Israelites turned their backs on God, repeatedly. “The habit of reviling the country that gave them privilege, influence, and wealth; prosperity unearned tends to generate folly and vice; violent revolutions happen when things get to be too good.”
We live in the most prosperous country in the history of the world and in The West our response is: We don’t need God. Mr. Mamet makes the case that maybe we should rethink that proposition.
In the history of the world dealing with Upper Respiratory Tract air borne RNA viruses, the promise that Public Health Specialists offered the world that they could “contain the virus” with masks and social distancing’ and type 2 mitigation strategies, and a vaccine ( me and my family are vaxxed and boosted), placing the emphasis on well people population communal strategies who were at low risk for hospitalization, and not emphasizing the need to protect those preferentially with comorbidities and the aged; played into the delusional fears of the masses and were the predicate for our conformity. When people don’t act on their fears, but on reason and an appropriate assessment of individual risk, we all benefit.
We as a country should become more acquainted with the philosophy of our forefathers: Work like hell and pray knowing we are in God’s hands. We and not the government are the masters of our fate. Everything we need to be successful has been given us by God to hold in stewardship. We can take better care of ourselves than government bureaucrats and “experts”
Now would be a good time for a modern GREAT AWAKENING