a famine of common sense
A famine of common sense and courage can only bring about a glut of cowardice and lunacy. That’s just the way the world works. Starve reason, feed the unreasonable. Take a look around, we all know it. Everything that was solid has been diluted. All the touchstones, shifted. All the rules eroded. Anything that was thought to be a biological certainty or a moral aspiration is now held up as evidence of bigotry and hateful ignorance.
Maybe it means you’re old when you start writing things like “I remember a time when there were some things that were simply certain.” If that’s the case, I’m grateful for my age. I’m grateful that I grew up in a time where certainties meant that I had to consider what that meant for me. I couldn’t change it if I didn’t like it. I couldn’t will others to bend to my insecurities because I felt uneasy or challenged by a conversation. I couldn’t tell people how to relate to me, they just did, however they did. What came of that was up to me. My life required my work. It had to come from me.
I had a tumultuous time in my younger years. I was kicked out of my house a couple times. I got kicked out of school. Homelife was rocky. I worked at a truck stop (so hollywood-esque) before joining the army. (I now credit the army for teaching me about self-discipline and for excavating parts of me I never thought I had.) I didn’t go back to school until my twenties to get my grade 12 diploma. I had my first baby at 21.
There are a lot of little painful details in those few sentences. A lot of joyful ones, too. That’s not the point of this essay. The point is that there was nobody there telling me how unjust my lot in life. Nobody there to suggest I was a victim. Nor was there anyone there to suggest I was privileged because of the colour of my skin or because I had a grade ten education. There was none of that. It was me, looking around at other people that I aspired to emulate. I wanted stability. I didn’t want to be poor anymore. I wanted to go to school so I could stop being embarrassed when people asked me what university I went to and I had to answer “none”, hoping they didn’t probe further.
But our world is different now. Today, we hold up the struggling, label them a victim of whichever oppressor is applicable, and demand justice. What is that justice? Some sort of punishment of the oppressor? Yes, but then what? Is the ‘victim’ forever doomed? Meant to live out a life of brokenness for the entirety of their lives? We’ve arrived at a time where compassion is seen as soothing the victim, endorsing their every word, jumping in their holes with them and agreeing with their every misery. If we are compassionate, we must endorse their every feeling.
I’m glad nobody did that with me. I’m glad that I understood that changing my lot meant stepping into the work I needed to do - regardless of my feelings. I understood the vastness of our world. Who am I, one little person, to ask all of the humans sharing their short lives on planet earth with me at the same time, to make my experience better at the cost of their own? That was unthinkable then. And then is only a few short years ago. Today, though… Today not only are we told to yield to the will of the mob, we are told that righteousness can be bought with a word and any disagreement is tantamount to violence.
These are the things that have been rolling around in my head for awhile now. Covid had a way of highlighting divisions and holding up whole groups of people as ‘other’. But it was over the last week, when a few things happened one after the other, that I started thinking more of the themes of our time. The plastic, flimsy righteousness one can claim by flying a digital flag or putting the right tagline under their name. Saying the right code words to others in a group to affirm ‘right thought’. Using authority to impose will. All of these things, festering amongst us in the shade of complacency. An entire culture starving for common sense.
Last week I went to a concert with a friend. It was the first time I’ve been to a live performance of any type in over two and a half years. Where I live, I was not allowed in restaurants, theatres, playhouses, stadiums, gyms, or most any other public space for those two years because I chose not to partake in a medical experiment. Mask mandates have now been lifted in our province. Still I would estimate that roughly 65% of the people at the venue were wearing masks.
Early in the performance, the singer started speaking to the crowd. A jaunty little communique to connect with her fans. Well that’s what I thought when it started. Instead, we got what felt like a scornful directive about wearing masks, the cost of touring for a performer, and details about how insurance would not cover covid illnesses. And while she “knew we were all vaccinated” (also not a requirement for admission any longer, but quite telling about her sphere of influence), her hope was that we would all be courteous to her plight and put on our face masks.
Miraculously and mysteriously, a strange thing happened as we sat in the dark of that theatre listening to her music. Somehow, those synthetic blue masks started wildly breeding and multiplying. When the lights came back on for intermission, the masked amongst us had somehow jumped from 65% to 85%. That number increased even further when we returned to the theatre after intermission. Generous staff stood guarding doorways with open boxes of surgical masks, an offering, or a plea, for anyone left daring to let their naked faces see the light of day.
Were we not all in the theatre already? Let’s just leave the whole issue of whether or not masks are even effective. They’re not. I can throw out a few studies that support my point of view, someone else could find a few studies suggesting otherwise. I can question the science of their studies, they will find issues with mine. What’s the point? Could we instead go back, back, back in time to the ancient civilization of 2019? A time when people went to libraries, theatres, playhouses, book readings, sports stadiums, and festivals. People might have gotten sick at some of those. People that were not well to begin with might have decided that public places weren’t the best idea for them. We didn’t invert the entire world because of it. We didn’t wear masks at a concert to keep the singer “safe”.
But we do now. In fact, absurdity has become normalized to such a degree that I worry we may not find our way back to shore. It’s not just the normalization of the absurd, but it’s a calling into question the very character of any heretic that doesn’t surrender to the current narrative. Any questioning or dissent is forbidden. One earns their stripes by participating in the righteousness charade only one way - fully and completely.
Another incident from the last week involved our oldest daughter. She had called into a federal government office to ask about maternity benefits. She was transferred from one department to another. When she was transferred, the employee on the line introduced our daughter to the service rep in the receiving department thusly, “This is Tyra. They’re calling to inquire about maternity benefits.”
“They’re.” “They’re calling.” A woman with a decidedly womanly voice is calling in to inquire about maternity benefits and she is a “they”. That doesn’t even make sense if you understand the English language at all. But there it is. We have wiped out the she’s to accommodate the they.
I cannot accept and will not comply with a reality where a woman is called a “menstruating person” or a “birthing person”. How is it that we allow for the erasure of biological women in order to accommodate biological men self-identifying as women so that they may be called women? People can do whatever they like with their lives. What is unacceptable is the demand that others yield so that they may dominate.
Last week, a story surfaced of a doctor here in Canada that is suing the federal government because they have lifted federal mask mandates. He wants them back. He has health problems and feels we all need to accommodate him. It’s the great age of narcissism. Now, it’s okay to bend the world to one person’s need. One small percentage of people’s desires. Now, we must all play along with the charade, participate in the writing of new realities even when we all know they’re a lie.
When we live within the confines of the box, we only see the walls they’ve constructed around us. But there is a whole world that the dingy little box is surrounded by. All we gotta’ do is give those cardboard walls a little push and a few cracks of light break through. Then another, and another. Less walls, more light, fresh air, warmth. We are under the illusion of the system. A system that does not value life. A system that does not value love. A system that mocks tradition and is trying to erase the very foundations of life. It’s a soulless imposter of life. It reduces us to meat sacks and numbers and demands we bend the knee to its way of ruling, its way of seeing the world.
We like to hold up heroes of the past, use them to demonstrate virtues like bravery and stalwart conviction. We tell stories of people that risked everything in the underground railroad or Germans that stood against the tsunami of fearful neighbours and citizens pledging allegiance to a maniacal dictator. But nobody was there at the time congratulating these people on their conviction. Neighbours were ratting out neighbours to authorities for hiding beautiful little children. People who resisted the tide of propaganda, of hate and fear, were maligned, ostracized, tortured, and often killed because their steadfast desire to do what was right trumped their need to stay safe.
The glory comes only decades or centuries later, when time and distance blows away the chaff and holds judgment knowing outcomes. Or the redemption never comes at all. The history of the world is built on nameless, courageous men and women that endured and overcame or didn’t. We’ll never know any of them. That is simply how it is. We cannot make decisions or decide what current to set our boat in based on the popularity of the route. I mean, we can, but it’s a sure way to find yourself in a sea of thrashing boats with nobody quite understanding where they’re going or why they’re there at all.
I get how people, disconnected from meaning in their lives, find comfort in a mob that delivers righteousness by doing nothing at all. I can understand why people, believing in a world system of limited possibilities, feel defeated. I expect mismanagement of captured governments and institutions. I expect the greed of pharmaceutical companies. What I never would have expected is the fierce devotion to safety above all that the masses were so easily, willingly controlled by.
What I will never agree to is that we are here by accident, that any life isn’t precious.
That’s not my world and I will not participate in its illusion. I understand that this is the work I have been called here to do. To seek out the beautiful and allow it to permeate my every atom. To be courageous enough to trust in the song of the spring peepers over the drone of a radio. To be devoted to that beauty and to feed it with sunlight that passes through my hair. I am here, you are here, we are here, to live our lives in service to the divinity of all of life.
I don’t want motherhood to be defined as slavery and good marriages to be scoffed at. I don’t want the miracles of life, of immune systems, of the brilliance of the natural world to be overwritten by the greed of corporations and followed blindly by the fearful masses. I don’t want a world where the currency of life is traded in fear and safety. I don’t want a world where people whisper their agreement with me but never stand and say it aloud.
Say it aloud.
Speak truth when you hear lies. Listen to that voice that guides you. If you’ve been ignoring that instinct it may be hard to find at first, but the more you stay true and look for guidance by aligning to Spirit, the louder the volume will become. We are fragmented and empty and so afraid of death because we believe the lie of a physical world. And our handlers know it. They have our number, folks.
None of this has to be an Us vs. Them proposition. Let’s not play into those manufactured dichotomies. The hatred of one thing isn’t required for the love of another. I do not need to malign what’s different when I have confidence and trust in the songs of my heart. Focus on bringing more beauty, more peace, more quiet assuredness into the world. We have enough shouting, grade school bullies. Why feed that monster? Bring it local. Have flesh and blood, face to face conversations that focus on what speaks to your heart over what facts you can trump the other with. Tell your story. Listen to theirs. Be courageous when you’re called to be and trust in your silence when it’s warranted.
Put more weight on staying in alignment with your values, your beliefs, yourself and your Creator over being careful to not offend. Get comfortable with glares and judgments and criticism. Be strong enough to withstand them all. Those things can only come from a rocky foundation and seeds you sow can grow in even the smallest of cracks.
Again and again and again, we are being told we can’t handle it. Our bodies can’t handle it. Our minds can’t handle it. Our delicate sensibilities can’t handle it. We’re not cut out for this world. God’s not cut out for this world. We are being brainwashed to believe that our salvation lies in the acceptance of things that are not real and that governments and corporations are the only things that can keep us safe. And safety, is, above all else, the very essence of life.
Stand for what is true. That’s the way to build real, honest to goodness confidence. Trust in yourself. Trust in the wisdom of our ancestors. Rest on the touchstones of our shared history. In you lies the intuition that pulls you into resonance with your gifts and your talents. The very reason you were put here, with us, in this weird and mysterious time. Stifle the calls of your heart and you reject the voice of God. Whether you get accolades or rotten tomatoes is irrelevant. You have to risk both to do it right.
What matters is that the real you, buried underneath social conventions, good manners, and a desire to be liked is always listening. Be true to that voice. Perpetuate grounded, common sense. You will come to learn that dedication to upholding what is true and virtuous aligns us with the love and beauty that flows through this world, through us, through each other. It’s your interwoven connection to God and the very meaning of your life.
Stand for what is true. Nothing matters more.