Last night as the family sat around the television watching the evening news, our son Xander suddenly stood up – like he’d just awakened from a dream or something – and, shaking his head to clear it, said, “What the hell just happened there? We went from, like, 20 reports of death and mayhem to winning a prom date with Seth Rogen…”
We all started cracking up, but after we’d stopped laughing, I started thinking about what Xander had said, and it gave me pause.
Lately it’s felt to me like… well, like our society is under some kind of mass hypnotic spell or something – like there’s this sort of slow-boiling rage and fear continually swirling around us now. I’ve felt it in myself when I’m trying to negotiate traffic to get to work on time – this impatience with the drivers around me who aren’t doing what I think they should be doing to allow me to progress in a timely fashion. And I’ve seen this rage and fear played out on the television, too – ads about painful and debilitating diseases that pharmaceutical companies run to try to sell their drugs (which, the ads admit with a soothing-voiced narrator, sometimes bring on worse side effects than the original disease) – political campaigns based solely on the negative traits of the opponent, shootings in our local schools, quarantines of people who aren’t actually sick but happened to have traveled from the wrong continent, horrific accidents involving drunk drivers and texters. And it’s occurred to me that my society is being mass hypnotized – being controlled through fear by folks who want to sell their drugs and their politics. It really stinks.
I’m thinking that maybe it’s time to wake up.
In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy writes: “Lulled by stupefying illusions, the world is asleep in the cradle of infancy, dreaming away the hours.” And “The press,” Eddy writes, “unwittingly sends forth many sorrows and diseases among the human family. It does this by giving names to diseases and by printing long descriptions which mirror images of disease distinctly in thought. A new name for an ailment affects people like a Parisian name for a novel garment. Every one hastens to get it.”
I’m thinking it’s time the world wakes up from its “stupefying illusions”, turns off the television, unplugs itself from the nonsense on the internet, too, and takes a stand. In the words of Ma in Grapes of Wrath: “I ain’t never gonna be scared no more. I was though, for a while it looked as though we was beat, good and beat. Looked like we didn’t have nobody in the whole wide world but enemies. Like nobody was friendly no more. Made me feel kind of bad, and scared too. Like we was lost and nobody cared… But we keep a-comin’. We’re the people that live. They can’t wipe us out. They can’t lick us. And we’ll go on forever, Pa… ’cause… we’re the people.”
Right ON, Ma Joad!