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Elder Anarchy




by Jerry Murley

My family has a concern that a recent pattern of drought and local development will lower the water table for longer and longer periods of time. In the few months since August 2008, our only two wells temporarily went dry for the first time in 28 years.

When I take my daily morning walks, I am apprehensive about the ill-behaved, big white Great Pyrenees that occasionally jumps the fence at the curve in the road and barks as he lowers his head behind me and nips at my heels.

In recent years, in particular, I have come to dread incompetent government and the accompanying decline in public services, eroding infrastructure, and mob-like phoney patriotism.

There's a joke in my family that happiness has its roots in low expectations. What makes that funny is that we have very high ethical expectations. But we don't expect perfection and we know that things are going to happen that we never anticipated. Strange thing about that is that the unexpected things that seem so dreadful at first end up having some very good effects. (I never could quite wrap my head around the election results of 2000, but now it all seems part of a grand seamless plan for good.)

From my arm chair, I do not fear Muslims. I suppose I have read too much history, studied too long and too sincerely at my Baptist church throughout childhood, and have watched too many good, good-hearted contemporary Iranian movies.

I do, however, fear fear mongers, especially those who might in any way influence my life or the life of those I love. In the 1990s and at the beginning of this century, those poor radical nihilists in Islamic states must have forgotten about what it is like to fall under the wrath of righteously indignant Christians who are way too heavily armed and have too much extra time on their hands. Muslims have more to fear from the results of Islamic terrorism than Christians have to fear from Muslims.

As for fearing God: God has put into place a sleek self-governing system. When out of vice, pride, or prolonged lack of awareness, one pushes the pendulum too far, it has a way of swinging right back and whacking one in the head. (However, I do concede that there are times the pendulum that someone else shoved too hard ends up hitting an innocent bystander on its way to and fro.)

I really don't remember Christ talking much about wrath and whipping up on people. He did have that day knocking heads among the money changers. But as far as I can see, Christians long ago joined in the manipulation of the money tills of the world. (If you don't believe that, read a newspaper.)

We do have things and beings to beware of. We do need to gird ourselves and keep alert. However, our armour should be flexible and appropriate and serve our practical needs and our ethical standards.

We don't want to end up like those glorious elite knights in battle in the late Middle Ages who got mired in the mud while commoners cut them to pieces. And I remind you that those commoners were motivated by collective cultural control and material survival – which in the movies translates into idealistic nationalism and individual freedom. We should be very afraid of those commoners and their ilk. And remember, they were Christians fighting Christians.

Let's enjoy freedom from phoney fear. But let's watch out for zealotry whatever its source.

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