Human vision receptors respond to the visible light portion of the electromagnetic spectrum; wave lengths array along that spectrum from longer than tall buildings to as infinitesimal as the span of the nuclei of atoms. Our visible spectrum is a tiny segment that falls between the longer length infrared and the shorter ultraviolet. Our slice’s wavelength is somewhat smaller than the diameter of most cells. Some species (like bees to find nectar) see more deeply into the ultraviolet range; some like pit vipers see into the infrared to help hunt warm blooded prey. I would suggest that the limited range of our human vision is an apt metaphor. Let’s look at a couple of examples.
Our view of the political spectrum from my perspective is extremely narrow. Human government ranges from enormous and ubiquitous to non-existent: from terrible tyranny to mere anarchy. In our current view we’ve not only limited the discussion to what is currently in vogue, but slid our republic, our representative democracy a notch or two to the left. The far left of the entire spectrum is tyranny, the far right is anarchy. The ‘large government’ versus ‘small government’ discussion is significant. Government’s intrusion into our lives is an important debate, however if we misplace our markers along the spectrum, we miss some important points. The common wisdom that a republic resides comfortably between the socialist left and the dictatorships of the right is erroneous. One of the victories of the left in the semantics of public discourse on the nature of government is this misplacement. As in many dialogues, the definer of the terms makes it difficult for the other side of the pro/con divide.
Those on the right of representative democracy are not Nazis, as is often charged. Nazis reside to the left. In fact the very word “Nazi” derives from “Nationalsozialist” from the “Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartie” or National Socialist German Worker’s Party. Adolph Hitler was a big government guy; his moral opponents were democratic and religious. His most bitter enemy on the despotic end of the government spectrum was also of the left – the communists of Josef Stalin. Both Stalin and Hitler murdered millions of innocents in the name of the ‘greater good’ of their twisted veins of human created utopia. For the communists, the shibboleth was the ascendancy of ‘the people’ (as in ‘power to the people’) and lip service towards radical egalitarianism. Of course, the redistribution of wealth must be ruthlessly enforced with overwhelming governmental power overseen by elite masters, who with diabolic genius propagandize their self justification. For the Nazis, the distinguishing feature of their brand of tyranny was racial supremacy and nationalism. Their stated ends were very different; their methods and results remarkably similar.
Another limited, tunnel vision of human life occurs in the realm of the supernatural world within our ‘visible’ spectrum. Guy Crouchback, the Catholic protagonist in Evelyn Waugh’s Second World War trilogy, in his cups one night expresses it well to his Army Anglican chaplain in “Men at Arms”: “Do you agree that the Supernatural Order is not something added to the Natural Order, like music or painting, to make everyday life more tolerable? It is everyday life. The supernatural is real; what we call “real” is a mere shadow, a passing fancy.” Like Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, we attribute reality to the shadows projected on the wall and miss the light behind them.
George Weigel, the noted scholar and biographer of John Paul II, depicts a world without God, without a life beyond the limitations of our finite human flesh, as a world hermetically sealed without windows or doors. The search for that light, that opening and light behind the perceived reality, I would suggest, is the most critical search of our lives. In fact all else dims to the nothingness we face (and would become) absent this light.
St. Augustine: “Nos fecisti ad te et inquietum est cor nostrum donec requiescat in te: You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you”. Again, Augustine writes: “Therefore, do not seek to understand in order to believe, rather believe that thou may understand.” All of us, gentle and good friends, face one inevitability. This life will pass, or rather this phase of our lives will pass. Our health will fail, age will defeat us, and our work will remain undone. The only question worth asking is “Quo vadis?” Where are you going?
Sam to Frodo in “Lord of the Rings”, “I wonder what sort of tale we’ve fallen into?”
One response to “Tunnel Vision”
When Pres. Bush saw antiwar protestors, he always remarked that they had every right to protest as this was America and freedom of speech of this kind is always protected.
Fast forward to the present protests of the day by the Tea Party since almost the beginning of Pres. Obama’s term to the present demonstrations, mostly in lower Manhattan.
When the grassroots demonstrations of the Tea Party began, the left was outraged at their nerve and their message of smaller government and less government spending. The Tea Party members were organized and had a well thought out message. Their protest demonstrations were held in parks and around government institutions, like our local State House here in Providence, RI. Local legislators were invited to attend and speak. Our Republican Governor, at the time, was not ashamed to attend these polite, but pointed demonstrations. They were orderly and made up of mostly middle aged to older people who held signs and occasionally dressed up in American Revolutionary garb and had tea bags dangling from funny hats. They cleaned up after themselves. They had their extremely small share of fringe signs that could be called racist; which makes one wonder if they weren’t planted by the other side. They became so good at getting their message out, and were largely responsible for the Republicans regaining the US Congress in 2010.
What of the protests of the left on Wall Street? They are made up of mostly young people or old people who still wish they were young. They do not have an organized message and they have made a dump site of the area, not to mention blocked NYC traffic and made a general nuisance of themselves. Some of their message I agree with, but they fail to realize that the problems of Wall Street are problems of the banks and financial institutions AND the government. The Barney Franks and Chris Dodds of the world were just as culpable as the banks when it came to their actions regarding the housing collapse. The “ownership” society was promoted by the government since the Clinton administration and continued through the Bush administration. The idea that everyone, no matter what their ability to do so, should own their own home was promulgated by people like ACORN and a great deal of pressure was put upon the banks to make risky loans. This was huge government interference with the free market and now we are paying the price. What followed by Wall Street was also despicable and certainly added to an already precarious situation. So I guess my question is, why are these protestors not including the people in government who initiated this mess? If there are Wall Street executives who should go to jail, there are just as many politicians who should join them.
I don’t think we are going to see any sea changes in the elections of 2012 because of the adolescent behavior of the left. They are crass, unorganized and will never get the American middle to follow them. They will get tired of camping out on the pavement as soon as the weather gets a bit colder. Their demonstrations will evaporate like the warm summer breezes. And they will leave their garbage in the street for others to clean up at the cost of the American taxpayers. This is typical adolescent behavior at its worse. This is “Power to the People” at its worse. But their speech will be protected because this is America and we cherish responsible expressions of free speech. If they block traffic or break the law, they will and should be arrested. How many Tea Party members were arrested? I don’t know of any personally.
God bless America!