Like many of you, I stayed up Tuesday evening to watch election
returns. But as I write this column — early Wednesday morning — the
news has been deliberately silenced — the outcome purposefully unknown.
For what has become clear to me, as never before, is that we live in a
land deeply divided against itself. That reality, more than presidential
winners and losers, will shape our destiny in the years ahead.
We commonly refer to this divide as “liberals v. conservatives.” But
that doesn’t make it real enough for me. It’s young against old;
children against parents and grandparents. It’s laborers and craftsmen
against business managers and owners. It’s families raising young
children against single dot-commers and dual income couples without
kids. It’s teachers against parents. It’s city-dwellers against the
rural folks who grow our food. And it’s the postman or lady who delivers
our mail, or the city maintenance worker who patches our potholes
arrayed against citizens working in the private economy, whose taxes pay
these civic salaries.
I’m sorry — but all the political discussion of the past months
leaves me with more questions than answers. Here’s just a few:
Tell me, Mr. and Ms. Senior Citizen — how is it fair for you to ask
the young family living down the street with children and a mortgage to
pay for your prescription drugs? If you are in need, that’s another
question. But are we really talking about need — or the desire to pack
up the Winnebago and head south to avoid the winter chills?
Tell me, Mr. and Ms. Union Worker — why Election Day is now a paid
holiday, and why you use it to cart illegals and deadbeat voters to the
polls? How does their vote strengthen America and secure your future?
Tell me, Mr. and Ms. City Dweller — how it is fair for you to use
the legislature to regulate the use and sale of rural land owned by
someone just like yourself? Is rural America to become just another
park, or perhaps a zoo, preserved safely behind bars for your occasional
viewing convenience, while you spend the tax dollars saved from “just
compensation” on the amenities of city life?
Tell me, Mr. and Ms. Bureaucrat — when did the people you “serve”
become a herd of cattle, maintained for your convenience, milked
regularly for their taxes, and euthanized when they become too old to
produce any more? When did you consciously decide that Ruby Ridge and
Waco were acceptable responses to challenges to your self-appointed
authority? When, precisely, did you first mistake yourself and your guns
Now into the midst of these divisions let us insert a relentlessly
clanging cymbal. Media noise permeates every pore of our being, its
relentlessly pulsating waves washing over us and enveloping us like a
flood of constantly conflicting emotion. Its growth is watered and fed
by a corps of publicly paid spin-doctors, entrusted with the
obliteration of truth, provided it can be accomplished in an
By all means let us have media buildings locked against the public,
like the television stations here in Seattle, patrolled by armed guards,
their privileged inhabitants safe to spew out the drivel of their
anonymous masters, corrupting our family relationships with their sewer
culture; pronouncing judgment on our institutions with their most
glamorous “personalities” — actors and impersonators, one and all.
Demand a presence at our dinner tables and then follow us into our
the while dispensing your wisdom of the moment, while you mask your
desperately empty lives and those of your plastic “personalities.”
Please, say kind things to us as we bow down and worship your hollow,
painted shells. By all means, merge and consolidate yourself into a
single, homogeneous cesspool of cultural catharsis and intellectual
vomit, so that we may all swim in the same sea of media enlightenment.
Demand that we pay dearly to use the precious public airwaves that we
loaned to you in trust.
And in government, let us have rulers who can foment discontent over
our differences, and then pass hate crime legislation to ensure that we
are adequately punished for acting on the notions they have
manufactured. Use the power you gain over your fellow men and women —
not because you have a desire to serve, but because you have an
insatiable longing to be served. Let us choose from among those most
revered by the popular culture — a culture so ignorant that its members
do not even know their own history and heritage — let us look there to
choose our leaders for the new millennium. Men and women guaranteed only
to appeal to the lowest common denominator among humanity.
Yes, let us clarify exactly what America has become — a clanging
cymbal of multitudinous “me’s” — resonating to the selfish public
generosity of rulers who willingly divide and conquer to obtain the
spoils of power — even if it means that illegals must vote and the
downtrodden be bribed with cigarettes and empty promises in return for
their ballot and the last shred of personal dignity they possess.
Or let there be a time out. All of us who use words need to be
mindful of their effects. God has a special reverence for words —
spoken or written. A.W. Tozer, writing in “The Pursuit of God,” pictures
him as continuously speaking out into his creation, his words softly
echoing throughout eternity. But though his voice will one day be heard
as “the sound of many waters” — have you ever approached a waterfall
through the silence of a hike in the woods? — for now God speaks to us
with “a still, small voice.” The fact of the matter is, we can’t hear
God if we’re busy listening to Oprah or other media fantasies.
We have a choice: We can tune in and amplify the voices of division,
confusion, and selfishness, or we can silence them with the flick of a
switch and tune into the “still small voice” with which God today still
pursues us. Each of us will one day meet him — and be invited to give
an account of how we spent the time and talent entrusted to us on this
earth. I look at the culture around me and I weep — for I know it is
not going to be a universally uplifting experience for humanity.
At the close of the Old Testament, God left the Jews with a picture
of what we can expect when he switches from the “still small voice” to
one like “the sound of many waters.” Here are his words from the book of
“Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another; the Lord
heeded and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him
of those who feared the Lord and thought on his name. ‘They shall be
mine,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘my special possession on the day when I
act, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then
once more you shall distinguish between the righteous and the wicked,
between one who serves God and one who does not serve
him. … You shall go forth leaping like calves from the stall. And you
shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of
your feet, on the day when I act,’ says the Lord of hosts.”