This country, man. It’s on a trajectory straight for FUBAR. There’s so much. There are so many things going off the rails.
When you pay attention to those things, they drag you down. But it’s hard not to. It’s like a plane crashed into a car and the big flaming wreck went over the railroad tracks just in time to get hit by a train. A HAZMAT train. In front of a pre-school/puppy shelter. And you’re just driving by, and you’re telling yourself, “keep your eyes on the road!” But you just. Want. To. Look.
Yeah, I’m in the mood for hyperbole. So sue me.
A few months ago, my lovely wife asked me to stop paying so much attention to the news. She accused me of being way too negative. I argued with that one. I said, “It’s not negative or positive, it’s just reality.” And technically speaking, that’s true. But reality = negative right now. Seriously. Google that shit. True story, bro.
We’re building a business right now, and that is a many-splendored thing. I left my job a month ago and haven’t looked back. Business is coming in faster than my most optimistic projections, and it’s a fantastic feeling. And so that’s where my focus needs to be. Too much to do and not enough time to do it.
But it’s like there’s this guy behind me with a knife, and the house is about to explode.
Permit me to explain: I have this real and pervasive sense sometimes that it’s all going to hit the fan. That we’re going to turn a corner and suddenly wake up in Orwell’s America. We’re really damned close already. There’s this part of my brain, though, and I’m SO thankful for it, that just keeps singing its Pollyanna song. “It’s a beautiful day,” it says. “It’s an amazing country. The bad guys won’t win. We won’t let them win. Go kick some ass today!!!”
And I want so freakin’ badly to believe that voice is the one I should listen to. Like I said to the wife the other day, “The world’s not allowed to go to hell in a handbasket just yet. There’s too much of it we have yet to go see.”
But the news. Oh lordy, the news.
So I’ve been staying away from the news. Mostly keeping the Facebook usage to a minimum, too, because that’s where many of my friends post this stuff too. It’s like a Trojan horse of awfulness: I go on to see pictures of your 4th of July BBQ, you post a link talking about the fission reaction that is the “Arab Spring” or one of the seventeen-jillion concurrent scandals that should be rocking this administration if they were ANYBODY else and the Bolshevik revolution didn’t hinge on their continued existence. Game. Set. Match. Suddenly I’m down the rabbit hole again. And when I’m doing that, I’m not giving all the TLC I should be to the business, the family, or my personal grooming.
So by sheer force of will, I pull my head out of the maelstrom and re-focus. Disengage. Resist the urge to click-n-cry. And the feeling I sometimes have is that I am turning my back on encroaching danger. Life is so much happier when I don’t know what’s going on, but I can’t escape the sense that it’s only because it hasn’t happened to *me* yet. And it’s coming for me. But I can’t run from it and I can’t fight it if I don’t have the means to do anything about it. I need resources (aka, a fat stack of Benjamins or the gold equivalent thereof) and a go-bag for me and mine. I need a cabin in the woods. I need an off-the-grid master plan and edible copies of the Constitution. Which means I need to be focused on the now – the making of money, the getting of things done, the acquisition of resources – rather than distracting myself with the vague and omnipresent threat that “something wicked this way comes.” It’s either/or.
It’s like I’m in a house with a serial killer. There’s a bomb rigged up in the basement (don’t ask why, exposition isn’t the point here) and it’s going to blow in about 14 seconds. I’m running for the door, and the dude is behind me with his big, scary knife. I’m focused on the exit. If I get there first, and the bomb blows, the killer is done. It can’t happen if I keep looking over my shoulder. I just need to stay concentrated on staying ahead of him. Maybe he’ll trip and gut himself on his own big, scary knife. Maybe the blast will get him. (No, I don’t know what the blast represents – this is a sucky analogy, just go with it.) The point is, if I gun it for the exit I might make it out alive. If I try to stay and fight, I’m out of my league at this point, so I’m human tartare.
I don’t like turning my back on a threat. But what choice do I have? There’s no part-timing the onslaught they’re throwing at us. You’re either in or out. You’re either fighting the borg-like takeover of this country and its ethos every day, or you’re not. And if you’re not, you’re either creating an anti-borg virus, or you’re going to be really surprised when they assimilate you.
I’ve lost my way here. No, literally, even I don’t know what I’m talking about anymore. But you get the point, right? RIGHT??
It is at this moment that I find myself jealous of the Christian martyrs of ancient Rome. There was no running from Diocletian or Nero. Shit was just real, and they threw down with the Lions. They knew – they just knew that freedom didn’t come from the law, from a document, or from a nation. It came as part of being made in God’s image and likeness. Free will. That’s where the rubber meets the road. “I choose freely to let you slaughter me, and my children, to show the world the monsters that you are. I go to a better place, where I will pray for your conversion.” What’s it like to be like that? What would it be like to live amongst people who had that kind of courage?
That is why the Roman empire converted. Not because of moving rhetoric, or force of arms, or giant steampunk war machines forged from spare aqueduct parts. They converted because they respected the Christians, who were absolutely, terrifyingly fearless in the face of torture and death. They knew what they were about, and they stared down Caesar and his legions and said, “Do your worst!”
We are not like them. We need to be. We need to be a people who doesn’t flinch, doesn’t cower, and doesn’t run. We need to face evil and we tell it how ugly it is. Right to its face.
If you figure out how to muster up that kind of awesome, would you mind letting me know?
Steve Skojec is a storyteller, writer, blogger, photographer, designer, and sci-fi fan. He is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. He lives in Arizona with his wife Jamie and six of their seven children.