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Deception Pass

As Western Washington breaks up into the coastline and islands of Puget
Sound, many beautiful landmarks emerge. Last week I was standing on one: 182
feet above the water and rock where a pair of bridges join Fidalgo and
Whidbey islands. The bridges meet in the center on a towering rock spike
known as Canoe or Pass Island. The landmark was discovered and named in 1792
by the explorer Joseph Whidbey, Master of H.M.S. Discovery, in an expedition
commanded by Captain Vancouver. He called it Deception Pass.

Far beneath the visitors, under the glittering watery light, an
incalculable volume of water surges back and forth through the narrow rock
channels below; the tides obeying their ancient rhythms. Treacherous
undercurrents, some with telltale signs on the surface, others with none,
rush just beneath the placid surface. The main channel is barely 500 feet
wide. This unseen turbulence can seize control of a ship without warning.

“Still water runs deep,” the folklore goes; and no one knows the number
of ships that have misread the surface conditions in Deception Pass, only to
make it their final destination, the wreckage of their passengers’ hopes and
dreams carried out with the tide, buried at sea. An ignoble end for the
lofty plans we shape our lives around — as a nation, a community, and
individuals. And yet all too common a destination for many of us.

Like pleasure craft out for a day’s cruise, we live our lives on life’s
surface. Intellectually we know there are dangerous cross-currents out
there, flowing unseen somewhere beneath us. But we convince ourselves that
they do not matter. Our destination is in sight. We have adequate food and
fuel. The forecast is for bright, sunny weather, with only patches of rain.
Eventually we come to believe that the tide and the undercurrents of life
will never affect us. We forget they are there.

Nations are as guilty of this as are individuals. For a nation’s life is
not made up of what is seen on the surface, but in the undercurrents of the
great ideas that gave it birth, the people who believed in it, grew with it,
and became finally a part of it, bequeathing it to their children and their
children’s children.

Yet there are ripples — ample warning to the trained navigational eye,
of turbulence below, impending danger — in many important areas of our
collective national life. Here are three:

The wisdom of all of accumulated human experience, as well as its
greatest teachers, tell us that the family is foundational to raising future
generations. Well before the time of Christ, Confucius had already observed,
“The strength of a nation is derived from the integrity of its homes.”
Moses, writing a thousand years before Confucius, in the book of Genesis,
put it more poetically: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his
mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Gen.
2:24). Yet today many of our national “leaders” work to actively undermine
family structure. Do they actually believe they can empty words like
marriage and family of their meaning, and fill them with their self-serving
lies, without destroying the future generations that will build upon their

Such “debates” could only take place in the vast sea of indoctrination
that has replaced public education in America. Like the barbarians who
overran and sacked Rome, the products of this system assault us with words
like “fairness” — words that mean whatever they want them to mean for the
moment — and then mean something quite different the next time they are
used. In a nation where individual freedoms were erected upon centuries of
Judeo-Christian law and values, activists today demand with a straight face
that “religion” be kept out of the public debate. Instead, they preach their
personal “rights,” unconnected to history, humanity, heaven or hell. Their
“education” has left them adrift in a sea of state-mandated propaganda,
disguised as the story of how they came to be who they are, devoid of
content and useless for understanding the perils they now promote. Absent
the values they so cavalierly discard, we would all be the emperor’s chattel
— our wives, sisters, and daughters his concubine for the moment.

In the emptied name of “compassion” these same barbarians would make our
healers into our killers. Using the euthanasia euphemism, “physician
assisted suicide,” they seek to pick up where the Nazis left off — by
letting the scientific priests of our age determine when useful life begins
and ends — and making sure we remain not a moment longer. Rather than our
healers, they would make our doctors into judge, jury and executioner. It
was, after all, a psychiatrist who conceived the Nazi death camps, not for
the Jews, but for the disabled and crippled children of the reich that would
rule a thousand years. All of course, in the emptied name of compassion, in
the midst of a society too consumed in itself to speak against the evil they
saw growing within them.

The physician Hippocrates, who lived 400 years before Christ and who was
the father of medicine, fought to separate the healers from the witch
doctors who might just have been paid more by your enemy to kill you, than
you paid to be healed. Such wisdom is now deemed unimportant by insurance
bureaucrats and Medicare statisticians who fancy themselves doctors,
managing our care and drooling over the prospect of bigger bonuses for
killing us six months early, while fattening their wallets with increased
inheritance taxes. All because they care. Ask them sometime, about what and

With the Dow rising and the cellular phone ringing, we are too busy
sailing the ship to study the navigational charts, whether in our personal,
community, or national life. Awash in a sea of materialism, we are assailed
by nothing but comforts on every side, lulled into a soft sense of security.
Yet underneath the surface of our lives, currents of death and destruction
swirl around the frail craft of our civilization and freedom. The vast tides
of history have already set in motion undercurrents and eddies that wait to
seize control and dash us against the rocks as we navigate the Deception
Passes of our lives. Surely peace and prosperity can be guaranteed by
government, and the tides of history are but an illusion, its undercurrents
of evil swirling around us simply the vivid imaginations of the timid who
see danger in the sunlit waters below?