“If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”
James Madison from the Federalist Papers
I collect quotes, sometimes even my own! But then I also collect and memorize verses of scripture especially meaningful to me. Memorization was very important in antiquity. Traveling raconteurs would actually recite the Iliad from memory because so few people could read. Now, we’ve become a culture of headlines, soundbites and fast food.
One of my observations is, “There are very few things that haven’t been thought before.” Notable exceptions are the 20th century theories of relativity and quantum mechanics. However, some thoughts are presented so eloquently they should be savored.
I’ve decided to add these pithy expressions of wisdom to the Doctor Is In column because they challenge me and I hope they will stimulate thought in others. And, this column must evolve or die. A friend of mine says, “You are either growing or you’re dying.” How true.
One of the fundamental properties of the universe is entropy. Simply stated, all energy systems dissipate. A clock runs down and a spinning top slows and falls over. Scientists have predicted that eventually our sun will cease to shine and even atoms will someday disintegrate. But don’t hold your breath because the latter will not occur for 1080 years (that is 1 with 80 zeros)!
As our country is torn asunder, I’ve been asking myself how we arrived at such a state of affairs. But the internist in me asks the even deeper question, why has this occurred? The answer is far more complex than the dystopian vision of Democrats or the positive message of the Republicans.
The best answer I have found lies in a sentinel book I read approximately a decade ago entitled “How Should We Then Live?” by Francis Schaeffer. You should read it. I plan to read it again as my choice for my egghead book club. And after the last two books we’ve read on Keynesian economic theory and moral law philosophy, I’m choosing a book that has pictures, beautiful pictures of art and architecture, along with a compelling explanation of western civilization’s rise and fall.
Entropy is a principle of physics, but it is operative in spirituality as well. The SNL comedic duo of Hans and Franz once said, “You got to pump it up!” A tongue-in-cheek explanation is, “use it or lose it.” Jesus’ disciples once asked him how to pray, and he taught them what we recognize as the Lord’s prayer. We are told to ask for daily bread. Like manna in the wilderness (Exodus 16) spiritual nourishment must be sought daily.
I’ve been thinking about spiritual entropy using the example of a sand filled hourglass. Remember the hourglass used by the wicked Witch of the West to taunt Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz? The soap opera Days of Our Lives opened with this metaphor of life, “Like sand through the hourglass so are the days of our lives.” I see the draining sand as a metaphor of spiritual life. Daily you must add “sand” to the hourglass of your spiritual life or it will dissipate.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan opened the Republican national convention with a moving prayer and repeatedly used the admonition, “Pray we must.” He’s right. C. S. Lewis wrote a wonderful book entitled “The Great Divorce.” In the book he imagined souls on a journey where some grew in spiritual stature. Others, who chose their way instead of The Way, began to shrink, eventually disappearing from existence.
The echo chamber of the media never ceases to amaze me. They seem like a Greek chorus in a drama intoning the same talking-point mantra. There are numerous examples, but a notable one is the media’s recent magic word “existential,” as in existential threat.
Existentialism is actually a philosophical term which I doubt Chris Coumo, aka Fredo of CNN, could define. The term describes the solitary individual’s experience in an indifferent universe, where human existence is inexplicable. I feel sorry for souls who don’t know where they came from or where they’re going. I once wrote about Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning.” So many seek ultimate meaning in politics, power, money, prestige, sex, drugs, etc. What a blighted existential existence and inevitable emotional freefall these idols produce.
Rarely have I watched political conventions of Republicans or Democrats. But this year was different for many reasons. Foremost, I wanted to make up my own mind instead of listening to dishonest media reports. (Admittedly, I have never watched a Libertarian party convention, once described by libertarian Neal Boortz as a Star Wars bar scene.)
After watching the Democrat and Republican virtual conventions, I suspect traditional conventions will never return. And good riddance.
(I feel the same way about the NBA.)
Though I once stayed in a Holiday Inn Express, I am not a political expert, nor am I a Democrat or a Republican. After suffering through the good and bad speeches, my opinion is I do not see the dark, racist, dystopian America portrayed by the Democrats. I identify more with the Republican positive images of our great country where everyday citizens can overcome difficulties to prosper.
Last week Hallerin Hilton Hill asked his audience to list the three top challenges of America. In order of importance, my three are Progressive Democrat-socialist philosophies, COVID-19 and the economic crisis caused by the shutdown to deal with COVID-19. The latter two problems have solutions as presented by President Trump. I’m not sure there is a remedy for dysfunctional Democrats, their cities and their mobs.
Despite our challenges I remain optimistic. Americans are resourceful and we currently have good leadership. To quote Dr. King, “We shall overcome.”
We live in a land of equal opportunity under law. We must reject the Siren’s call of government mandated equal outcomes.
Be a part of the solution now and in November. Renounce evil’s hatred, embrace the Spirit and vote your conscience.