The great majority of us are required to live a life of
constant duplicity. Your health is bound to be affected if, day after
day, you say the opposite of what you feel, if you grovel before what
you dislike and rejoice at what brings you nothing but misfortune.
--Boris Pasternak, "Dr. Zhivago"
God will not look you over for medals, degrees or diplomas, but
--Elbert Hubbard, "Epigrams"
For whoever will save his life shall lose it: and whoever will
lose his life for my sake shall find it.
In part one of "Yellow Brick Road,"
I described what a culture sinking into the black hole of despair might
look like. While its self-anointed "elites" struggle to treat the
symptoms they see around them -- depression, drug abuse, and violence --
they are doomed to fail. Such symptoms are the normal human reaction to
the world that we all sense lies at the end of the yellow brick road,
one cobbled together by our leaders in the absence of God. It is the
meaninglessness of the man behind the curtain, the one-dimensional
Wizard of Oz who measures everything by the materialist's yardstick, for
it is the only one he has. Its voice is the Soviet cosmonaut who, upon
orbiting the earth for the first time announces that God does not exist,
because the cosmonaut can't see Him from his peephole into eternity.
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Despite the symptoms around us that we struggle so desperately to
treat, it is the road we travel -- away from God -- that inflicts upon
us the neurotic triad of our illnesses described by Dr. Frankl. The
further down this yellow brick road we travel, the more our symptoms
will grow to engulf and finally consume us.
It is as Dr. Zhivago, amidst the turmoil of the communist revolution,
says: our health is bound to be affected. We can pretend that our souls
are dining on our credit cards at the mall -- but their malnourished
state slowly starves our spirits and ultimately withers our bodies. We
seek relief first for one, then the other, until we come to our final
exit. We can pretend that we have our lives all together, the new cars,
the house, two careers and the private schools -- but the unguarded,
pained look in the eyes of a loved one, isolated in a separate but equal
world which we can't seem to penetrate, blurts out the truth to all who
surround us. Different "ism" -- but Zhivago again.
We press ahead. Peace and contentment must surely lie just around the
next bend in the yellow brick road. Ask each of us and we will have an
answer: more work, more social spending, more spirituality, a new
government program, more Republicans, more Democrats, a different
president, more freedom, more laws. In desperation we turn finally to
the "isms": communism, socialism, fascism, Nazism -- bus stops on the
yellow brick road to eternity, pit stops on the road to oblivion.
"Repent! Turn around -- go back!" The words shatter our introspective
silence: "Follow me!" The message arcs across human history like a
lightning bolt. "Don't continue on. The road you've built is going in
the wrong direction. ..."
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In fact, it was Jesus, quoted by his biographer Matthew some 2,000
years ago, who articulated the message: "Enter by the narrow gate; for
the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and
those who enter by it are many" (Matthew 7:13). Perhaps today he could
have added that the road is paved with Prozac, the better to silence our
consciences. The next new gadget, the next new promotion, the next new
lover is not going to buy us the happiness we so desperately seek. But
still we head down the yellow brick road, safe in the midst of the herd,
His voice slowly fading away, just another milepost on the journey to
eternity. The fork in the road. We wonder why the path narrowed and
turned so abruptly in the other direction? Yet, our leaders assure us
that all paths lead to God in the end, happiness lies around the next
bend in the yellow brick road, and God is where you find him, even
behind the exit curtain in the land of Oz.
"Unless life points to something beyond itself," said Dr. Viktor
Frankl, "survival is pointless and meaningless. It is not even possible.
This is the very lesson I learned in three years spent in Auschwitz and
Dachau, and in the meantime it has been confirmed by psychiatrists in
prisoner-of-war camps: Only those who were orientated toward the future,
toward a goal in the future, toward a meaning to fulfill in the future,
were likely to survive."