In the 1978 Vietnam War drama "The Deer Hunter," Michael (Robert DeNiro) employs a rifle cartridge in an attempt to explain objective reality to his childhood friend Stan (John Cazale).
"This is this," Michael says, holding the cartridge up in front of Stan's face. "This ain't something else."
Like several moments in this powerful film, it's tinged with dark humor, and this scene became an instant classic for me. Since it did contain that dark humor, and because Michael had a demonstrably weird persona even before his experiences in Vietnam, I think that Stan, Michael's other hunting buddies and the film's audience sort of shook off the confrontation and the depth of Michael's words.
When something is, it cannot be something else.
There simply is no denying that America is a far less morally grounded nation than we were 50 years ago. Here, your leftist (liberal, progressive, socialist or communist) would immediately attempt to initiate a debate on the topic of morality. In fact, such arguments were widely used over the past five decades with the explicit objective of fostering the sort of intellectual ambivalence that would engender the moral turpitude we see in our society today.
For the sake of argument and intellectual honesty, I will concede that on the issue of morality, there is a little wiggle room. I don't think there's any profit in arguing that thong bikinis will consign the wearer to eternal damnation, even though such things are indicators of our collective moral ambivalence.
What I am saying is that in a society of morally grounded people, there are certain lines that are never crossed. In America, those lines used to be universally understood; now, they most certainly are not.
One can deny that a rifle cartridge is in fact a rifle cartridge, and in most cases, it isn't going to make an impact on anyone. Denying objective truths about oneself, one's community or society in general, however, is an altogether different and very dangerous proposition.
When an individual, community or society lives in self-imposed denial with regard to objective truths, trouble arises. At this point, it is necessary to illustrate just how entrenched beliefs can become, and by extension, how deep denial can run.
For those who subscribe to a faith doctrine of any kind: Imagine, if you will, being presented with empirical evidence that the core tenets of your faith were absolutely false. The cognitive dissonance and emotional upheaval such a revelation would create could be devastating. This is in part why clerics feared and persecuted scientists for centuries, and why some people dread the prospect that our rapidly advancing technology may soon put humanity in contact with beings or agencies who could explode many of our long-held beliefs.
When confronted with the fallacy of their beliefs, the internal conflict is so great that many people simply choose to deny the undeniable (empirical evidence). They either operate as though they'd never been presented with such evidence, or they employ doctrinal platitudes and axioms to explain away the evidence.
Theologians and even many lay people have observed that humans possess an innate drive to believe in something and to be a part of something larger than themselves. Some assert that it is actually impossible for the human being to exist without filling that "hole in the soul" with something, even if it is inherently harmful.
For some people, this involves a lifelong faith journey. Some join fringe religious cults. Others become so embroiled in their work that this becomes their reason for living. Still others revel in pop culture, with entertainment icons or sports figures representing their pantheon of minor deities. A few people are sufficiently narcissistic that they effectively become their own god.
As Americans have been so strongly encouraged to discard traditional values and models of faith over the last few decades, many have supplanted these not with alternative spiritual or religious beliefs, but with secular icons and belief systems.
One of the most destructive belief systems we've seen arise has been that of the activist. As we know, much of the civil rights and environmental activism that's taken place in recent years has been driven by the political left, and I don't believe it's an accident that the mentality of dedicated activists has been likened to that of religious zealots.
As we have seen in fringe religious cults and communities of activists, it doesn't take very long at all for these belief systems to take hold, and to take hold with a vengeance.
Not only do the belief systems fostered by leftist activism contain falsehoods, but they are eminently harmful to the individuals who subscribe to them and to society at large. Even worse, due to the influence the political left has enjoyed in the press, media and education, there are at least two generations among us who are woefully ignorant of just how harmful they are.
To illustrate, I could employ any number of policy issues we've seen over the last 50 years, but for the purposes of this argument, I've chosen this one:
At the time of this writing, parents in Washington state are fighting a Democratic bill that would mandate LGBTQ-focused sex education for children, including kindergartners.
According to Breitbart, "[T]he Democrat narrative behind the legislation is that such a bill would establish 'equity,' i.e., equal access to sexual health information, especially with regard to the topics of 'affirmative consent' and the needs of LGBTQ students."
Ah, how many times have we heard that cry in the cause of obscure LGBTQ "rights" or questionable public policy?
Fifty years ago, such a proposal would have led to riots and numerous instances of what are known today as "hate crimes" – but look at how this illustrates the degree of influence this belief system has come to hold, and the religious zeal of its adherents. Today, there are people who are willing to fight to the death (or so it would seem) for the "rights" of LGBTQ people, illegal immigrants, endangered species, the environment and even terrorists.
Further, there are millions of Americans who do not approve of these policies, but who will raise neither a finger nor their voices in protest for fear of being labeled as bigots. As I have asserted many times in this space, it is this modus operandi that got us here in the first place.
Here, I do not submit that LGBTQ people are disgusting degenerates who should be widely persecuted. They may engage in disgusting behavior, but in many ways, they are simply victims of a society their progenitors allowed to degenerate.
Leftist social engineering through propaganda and the zealotry of activists have been extremely clever, as well as insidious and incremental. In the area of sexuality, we have seen that capitulation to their agenda today fosters an even higher degree of societal dysfunction tomorrow.
Forcing LGBTQ-focused sex education on kindergarteners is only a degree or two away from mandating practical labs in deviant sex for kindergarteners based on activists' assertion that this will provide "equal access to sexual health information" in these children, providing them a frame of reference for what being sodomized feels like.
Laughable? I don't think it's any more laughable than the notion of "gay marriage" would have appeared to most Americans 50 years ago.