Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Mundanity of Madness

I have long resisted the allures of Netflix.  But I finally have given in, particularly now that my knee has given me an excuse to watch more TV.  I am not quite a binge watcher and hope I never become one.  Besides, I hardly have the attention span for that.  But I do enjoy (if that is the appropriate word) the WW2 and Nazi documentaries.

Something that has struck me as I watch these is how societal madness and profound evil can and often does seem normal, mundane even, when one is in the midst of it.  Indeed, for the average German, life did not seem that much out of line until bombs finally began dropping on Germany.  Oh, the flag was different; Nazi propaganda was everywhere.  But, if anything, life superficially improved for many – the economy improved after the 1929 crash and the following depression that strengthened the Nazis politically; there was certainly more national pride.  As long as one was not Jewish or on the wrong side of the Nazi Party, life seemed relatively good and orderly, especially when compared to the chaos of the Weimar Republic.  At the very least, life went on.

Beyond the Nazis, there is a tendency to think episodes of societal madness and evil happen at other times or in other places.  It is hard to grasp that one is in the midst of such an episode.  Most do not want to comprehend it if their own country is mad and evil; it would not be a pleasant realization.  And it is not too hard to fool oneself to keep from such a realization.  If one is surrounded by dysfunction, it seems normal if that is what surrounds you all the time and one gets used it.  And people can be remarkably adaptable - even (especially?) when they should not adapt.

At times lately I wonder if we are going through such a time now in the U. S.  Yes, I know that surely seems alarmist.  No one I’m aware of wants to send Christians or freedom-minded people to camps, at least not openly.  But look at the sudden change of political discourse in very recent years.  There is a large contingent in this country that acts more like Brown Shirts than Americans, smearing and attacking as bigots, racists, homophobes those who disagree with their once radical agenda and seeking to silence them, to put them out of business, and worse.  Now it has even gotten to the point that seeking to quietly practice one’s religion is attacked as “discrimination.”

Have we not gone mad when cake makers are required to bake a wedding cake for a gay “wedding” or face ruinous fines?  And when a substantial part of the population and leading corporations and politicians (including, yes, Hillary) approve and even cheerlead such persecution?

But, lets admit it.  Even while this is going on, everyday life does not seem that much different, not even for most Christians.

Of course, I recognize that every country has its excesses and bouts of madness even.  And often people respond and/or muddle through, and the society pulls back, at least for a time, before it falls into profound and systematic evil.

But more than we may like to admit, societies, even “civilized” ones, do give into insanity and evil.  And usually it happens with enough subtlety and mundanity that it seems not a big deal . . . except to those who are the victims and to those who later wonder how a society could have gone so wrong.

We are fools if we think the United States is immune to such societal sickness, especially now.

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