To say that the world is in a crazy place would be stating the obvious. Craziness acceleration has been the name of the game for the last few years.
That craziness was recognized by Timothy Lusch in a recent Chronicles Magazine review of Douglas Murray’s new book, “The Madness of Crowds.” Lusch writes:
“[S]omething is afoot these days, something sinister, and Murray has got his finger on its pulse.
Of recent developments, he writes, ‘In public and in private, both online and off, people are behaving in ways that are increasingly irrational, feverish, herd-like and simply unpleasant.’ This comes as no surprise to anyone who pays any attention to the news. But then he strikes right at the postmodern heart of things by declaring that ‘all our grand narratives have collapsed.’ Our way of situating ourselves—at least in the West—was ordered for centuries around a Judeo-Christian understanding. We shared common assumptions rooted in a metaphysics that viewed man as created in the image and likeness of God. It was a recognizable moral landscape that, even in darkness and disagreement, had discernible features.
It is no more."
It’s true. All of our longstanding narratives were collapsing, giving way to “social justice, identity politics, and intersectionality.” But then the coronavirus hit, and this social justice trifecta has slowly begun to fade from view. In its place, the moorings of God, family, and country are reappearing.
Let’s start with that last one. Until a few weeks ago, many were ashamed of our country. Supposedly it was a bigoted, self-centered, racist nation, as shown by the lack of a caring community and the call for closed borders. Now closed borders are a growing norm even among states.
Meanwhile, people are rediscovering their community, reaching out to give help, encouragement, and any human connection to their neighbors, albeit at a healthy distance. It seems we’ve finally slowed down enough and realized the truth of the old proverb that “better is a neighbor that is near than a brother far off.”
At the same time, nuclear families are reviving by default. With few, if any, activities to run to, whole families are out walking together, fathers are playing with their children, and mothers are ensuring their children’s education continues.
John Taylor Gatto once said that “Independent study, community service, adventures and experience, large doses of privacy and solitude… these are all powerful, cheap, and effective ways to start a real reform of schooling.” But the biggest way to reform schooling, Gatto noted, is to “include family as the main engine of education.” As our families relearn to function and operate as a solid unit, will we see other problems like education begin to work themselves out as well?
Finally, there also seem to be rumblings of renewed interests in faith, church, and God. The Wall Street Journal suggests that the coronavirus could cause another great religious awakening, such as those seen during other times of extreme national difficulty. Pew Research reports that many individuals are turning to prayer – even those “who say they do not belong to any religion.”
George Washington named religion and morality as the “great pillars of human happiness.” In resurrecting our belief and devotion to God, will we also pull ourselves out of the despondency and angst that has infected our nation in recent years?
Yes, life as we’ve known it is collapsing, but perhaps this may be for our good. If the collapse can replace the social justice trifecta with the threesome of God, family, and country that has been the social mooring of Western Civilization for centuries, then perhaps we’re not on the road to disaster, but on the road to recovery. As C.S. Lewis said, true progress is not to continue going forward when you realize you’re headed down the wrong path, it is recognizing where you made a mistake and going back to restore what is lost.
Perhaps the coronavirus is giving us the perfect opportunity to do just that.
[Image Credit: Flickr-Lorie Shaull (cropped), CC BY-SA 2.0]