Splitting the Difference – on Open-mindedness and Opportunity


It’s been turning up on my Facebook feed lately, a post-it-note that says something to the effect that all the posts in the world won’t change anyone’s mind. Well, some part of my mind has been chewing on that thought  -- it’s a very dangerous one.

This is not a tirade against anyone who posted it – it showed up several times and I didn’t even notice who had put it up there, let alone what the ideological motivation might have been. It’s the utter closed-mindedness that amazes me. “My mind (what little there is of it anymore) is made up; don’t give me any information, don’t remind me that not everyone agrees with me, and above all, don’t put me in a situation where I have to defend my position because either I don’t know enough to do so, or my position is indefensible.” That’s what it means.

We can’t afford that. Not on either side. Not on any side. We are so close to extinction as a nation that it takes my breath away and such calcification of thought will end us. This is no time to dig into a sullen funk; this is a time to talk. As the bard said, “Something is rotten in Denmark,” and we better fix it and not sulk around like Hamlet did. That didn’t end well.

We – the United States of America, the greatest, most benign, most prosperous, freest nation the world has ever known – is not too big to fail. That’s ridiculous. Remember Goliath? This world is littered with the remains of great empires, great countries, great cities.

Carthage
§  What happened to Carthage? From the 7th century B.C. until the 2nd century it controlled all of the western Mediterranean. Now, inhabited by only 20,000 people, it is just a suburb of Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, a third world country.

§  Where is Assyria? It once controlled all of what is now the Middle East. For the last 200 years of its existence its army never lost a battle. Now it is gone. People live in the land that was once Assyria, some of their buildings have survived, but that’s it. Gone.

§  Rome, which once provided unheard of prosperity for most of Western Europe, the Middle East and northern Africa, is now just a city, a tourist trap, in a beautiful but insolvent European country. Its only claim to importance now is the Vatican, which technically is its own sovereign country. Rome hasn’t been a world power for 1500 years.

Weren’t these places “too big to fail?” I’m sure they thought so.

I occasionally hear people say that, “They won’t let that happen.” They being some huge, benevolent tooth fairy, some loving, caring government bureaucrat, a group of munificent, unselfish officials – who knows? Even now, when it’s become apparent that our government officials are actively causing our demise, I hear that. But we shouldn’t discuss it.

I wish the failure of this country weren’t possible, but it is not only possible, it is probable. Look at the whole picture:
§  Our national debt may have already reached the point of no return. Certainly if the economy doesn’t do a quick about-face, and if we don’t curb government spending, there is no way out of financial ruin. But let’s limit our conversations to announcements of our latest social function.
§  Speaking of which, the jobs situation is stuck on awful. You know the statistics and you know that our current administration doesn’t think those stats mean much. That won’t fix anything, but don’t bring it up.
§  Our nation is in the cross hairs of radical Islam – both small groups of terrorists and the country of Iran. If we become weak enough…. It’s hard to even let my brain go there. But even our government, who’s supposed to protect us from foreign enemies, won’t talk about that one.
§  We are no longer supporting Israel as we have in the past. History clearly shows that God’s promise to Abraham (I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be. Genesis 12:3) has been fulfilled over and over again. We don’t want to be on the wrong side of that one – see the note on Assyria above. They crossed both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms and that didn’t turn out well, either.
§  We have become so fragmented that being American seems irrelevant to many of us. It has become more important that a person is black or white, male or female, gay or straight, rich or poor, Christian or atheist, whatever. As Lincoln said, “A nation divided against itself cannot stand.” But, for pity sake don’t offend me with your opinion, don’t rock my comfortable boat.
§  Our culture is disintegrating. It is not our law that holds this country together; it is our morality. No number of laws can substitute for genuine morality; the less integrity a people has, the more laws it needs, the less freedom is available. An esteemed friend and colleague was serving in the military in Iraq where an Iraqi man told him that he wished his country had our moral principles. He saw no way Iraq could become anything more than it had been on its traditional tribal understandings. There, if it’s good for your tribe, it’s good. Morality – the idea of an absolute good, a good that transcends one’s earthly situations and relationships, is essential for any kind of social progress. We are losing that fundamental building block. And what’s even more startling is that we are also losing the family structure that serves as the back-up for a society. If we lose both morality and family we are doomed.
§  We are attacking the very Judeo-Christian foundations on which that morality and family structure is built. God does not suffer fools gladly. Check out Deuteronomy 28. God gave that list of divine consequences to Israel as she was becoming a nation, but the list fits us, too. We have been a client nation to God; we have protected the world from evil; we have sent out an army of missionaries; we have shown the world how to be prosperous. Now we are turning our backs on Him who gave us the power to do those things. Such behavior will not produce happy results. But don’t bring it up.

I could go on and on, but you know, if you pay attention at all, that we’re surrounded by horrible probabilities. When I run across that “don’t confuse me with the facts, I’ve given up questioning and thinking altogether and I don’t like being reminded of what that was like” mentality it really scares me.

And it’s so silly. We are living through one of the greatest changes in human history – greater by far than the Renaissance with Gutenberg’s printing press and the Reformation. Now, for the first time in human history, run-of-the-mill people like you and me can express our opinions in an open forum. We can teach each other things. Let’s celebrate that. It is momentous. Let’s not squander this amazing opportunity on just telling each other what we ate for dinner. That’s all well and good. Chatting amicably is good. But so is having serious, problem-solving, information-rich discussions.

Each of us is a unique, God-designed being with insights no one else has, and here we are with uncountable, mind-numbing problems to solve, and now we have a way to link all those amazing brains, all those souls, to figure out how to solve those problems. Let’s not cut off any of that. Let us never tell anyone to be quiet. Let us listen to what others are saying. Let us open our hearts to God and to each other so that this country won’t end up a vague memory and a dried-up wasteland.

Let’s keep our place in history and let’s claim our future. See you on line.