By Dr. Jim Ferguson
At church recently, a friend and I were discussing another mutual friend and how we each came to know him. Church-friend knew the fellow as a fraternity brother at UT. I met our mutual friend as a freshmen in medical school. A brotherhood develops among soldiers. The bond with my medical school friend developed within the crucible of long nights of study, anatomy dissections and shared hospital watches. It has lasted nearly forty-five years.
As church-friend and I were reminiscing, I remarked that I also pledged a fraternity while a freshman at UT. Unfortunately, the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity held pledge training on the same night that UT’s ice hockey team practiced. The “brothers” told me I’d have to choose between their social club and my hockey teammates. I left the frat three weeks after joining.
Humans are social creatures to one degree or another. Very few of us choose to live as hermits. Studies have shown that isolation is an effective means of punishment, and is used in the coercive efforts some deem as torture. Interestingly, studies of group structure reveal that the best size for discussion and sharing is approximately eight persons. Smaller group numbers have less to share. On the other hand, larger groups tend to suppress dialogue, as some become increasingly quiet while others tend to monopolize the conversation, and sometimes are perceived as running their mouths! We should all consider the wisdom that “None of us is as smart as all of us together.”
I’ve been thinking about clubs lately as the revelations in The Swamp, the media and Hollywood continue to surface daily. A friend once asked me, “How many branches are there in our government?” Because I survived higher education, I can take tests, and knew this must be a trick question. So, I responded, “The Constitution provides for an executive, legislative and judicial branch.” My friend then averred, “Yes, but there is a fourth branch of government. It is represented by the ensconced, non-elected bureaucrats” who populate all those buildings in Washington D.C.
I don’t know who conjured up the term, The Swamp, which refers to the denizens of our own Panem, Washington D.C. I don’t believe this scornful moniker derives from the fact that Washington was built on a swamp. Governor Mike Huckabee observes that Washington D.C. is actually “The Sewer,” and Newt Gingrich opines that the problems in Washington are much “worse than [he] ever imagined.” The corruption in the IRS, the State Department, the FBI and other intelligence agencies, the Justice Department, The Congress and the Judiciary are rampant and institutional. At least the Executive branch members are new and largely populated by non “club” members. Our country is resilient, but it will require a Soviet-like purge beyond removal of Al Franken (Senate), John Conyers (House), Peter Strzok (FBI) and the partisan special prosecutor, Robert Mueller. The so-called “Deep State” (aka “fourth branch of government”) must be investigated and purged.
Washington’s elite comprise what I’ll refer to as the “D.C. club.” Its members consist of those with privilege and power. An obvious example is the United States Senate. Once ensconced, Senators move further and further from We The People who elected them – except in the year they run for reelection. However, you should beware of the mob who, as I write, is bringing down the comedian Al Franken and has already dispatched John Conyers. Robespierre underestimated the mob, and it turned on his abuses of power and cut off his head with a guillotine during the Reign of Terror.
Since my column runs once a week, it’s difficult to be contemporaneous. I just learned of the 2008 Friar Club roast of Matt Lauer. Odious, salacious, revulsion were my immediate reactions. The attendees were members of the elite media and entertainment club. They apparently are free to crack repulsive, homesexual, misogynist and racial jokes – at least until the mob discovers the club’s elitist debauchery. Their hypocrisy shouldn’t surprise anyone. And their recent feigned ignorance of now infamous Matt Lauer’s perversions are demonstrated as lies. But then Hollywood projects this facade of reality, and the media have become perpetrators of politically motivated propaganda (aka “Fake News”).
Interestingly, Trump was at this roast in 2008. But, he was not the President then and in 2008 he was apparently a member of that “elite club.” Trump was also once a Democrat. Did the man from Queens become a Democrat to do business in NY or did he once believe in the policies of the Democrat Party of old? Perhaps Trump came to realize that the modern Democrat party bears no resemblance to the party of JFK. I don’t know, but I do know that Trump is no longer a Democrat, nor is he a member of the protected and urbane “elite club.” And perhaps he should have walked out of the roast. Perhaps he should take Mike Pence’s advise (and Billy Graham’s) to avoid such gatherings or meetings without his wife or a chaperone. I also know that the “club” does not take kindly to leaving their fold. Those who leave the club and groupthink become outsiders, and are reviled and hated.
Words are important. They are tools of communication. Morality is a concept dependant on the notion that there is a standard of right which the ancients referred to as a tertium quid. The current postmodernism opposes any standard of right, saying everything is relative to one’s nation, village or even an individual’s feelings. I believe if there is no guiding Light or absolute right, people with power and privilege – and the rest of us – will exercise it. We The People should not let social media (the mob), so-called journalists, Hollywood reprobates or politicians determine what’s right and so define what’s moral and our culture.
It’s Christmas and I am thankful to be counted among followers of “the way, the truth and the life.” Followers of Christ are known as Christians and I am happy to march under The Master’s ensign and morality. Christians are commanded to pray for the lost and confused, and I do so everyday. I will continue to pray for Al Franken, Matt Lauer and the Weinstein’s of the world. I believe in forgiveness, and answering for the consequences of one’s choices.
I believe wisdom and salvation occurs when someone is “driven upon their knees.” George Bailey (It’s a Wonderful Life) discovered this path of redemption on Christmas Eve. It is open to all.