This week I celebrated my 70th birthday.
I like the sound of 70. In terms of human years that number seems possessed of dignity and wisdom, and though I may lack both attributes, 70 provides a façade leading others to think that age has endowed me with these prizes.
Regardless, I have reached the age when bits and pieces of the past come floating up from the subconscious like messages from a Magic 8-Ball. Shards and splinters from the past drift into my mind, bidden or unbidden, which are often entertaining and sometimes applicable to the present.
One recent bit of this sort of debris that washed up on shore this week were lines from the 1969 Moody Blues song “In the Beginning.”
Some of the lines from this spoken song have remained stuck in my head all these years, and I was absentmindedly reciting the parts I remembered when I realized the words touched on current affairs. I found the full lyrics here:
[First Man:] I think, I think I am, therefore I am, I think.
[Establishment:] Of course you are my bright little star,
Pretty files of your forefather's fruit
And now to suit our
You're magnetic ink.
[First Man:] I'm more than that, I know I am, at least, I think I must be.
[Inner Man:] There you go man, keep as cool as you can.
It riles them to believe
That you perceive
The web they weave
And keep on thinking free.
The words that had stuck with me were those of the Inner Man. But as I looked at the full lyrics of “In the Beginning,” I found the entire piece pertinent to our time, perhaps even more so than when Graeme Edge wrote it.
In “Establishment,” we see a government that has “miles and miles of files” on us and the idea of a “Great Computer” that makes us “magnetic ink.” Written half a century ago, this describes what Big Tech, big government, and the mainstream media are attempting today. This same conglomerate also treats the rest of us like children, “bright little stars” who should be pleased with an occasional pat on the head.
“First Man” echoes the doubts that our roiled age of division and gibberish have cast on the meaning of our humanity. The theories regarding our personhood emanating from social justice advocates and some of the folks staffing our universities, ideas that our grandparents would have considered insane, have left many confused about the nature of reality and truth.
“Inner Man” offers us some way out of this madhouse, or at least some relief from the walls and bars some are trying to build around us. It does “rile them to believe/ That you perceive/ The web they weave.”
We see this anger daily among those who wish to command our lives. Outfits like Facebook and Twitter banish certain points of view from their platforms, labeling them as dangerous or as “hate speech.” Some on the left want to shut down or censor organizations such as Fox News or Newsmax simply because some of their reporting and editorials address the lies and distortions of politicians. It angers them, too, when we “keep on thinking free,” living our lives and practicing our faith and beliefs outside of their control.
Unfortunately for these who would be our masters, more and more people are waking up to what their keepers intend for them. They see the spider’s web being woven—what we today would call the matrix—and they understand the motives behind such post-modern ideas as “systemic racism,” cancel culture, and deconstruction. They see how these notions, when put into action, damage our schools, threaten free speech, increase crime and violence in our cities, and deliberately aim at creating groupings based on skin pigmentation, promoting division rather than unity.
In his first five weeks in the White House, Joe Biden issued a combination of more than 60 executive orders, directives, and memorandum. Simply from the sheer volume of these missives, we know that the president had little or no hand in writing them, and we are left to wonder whether he even read them or knew what he was signing.
But some of us have our eyes open, and we see what they are doing.
Let’s keep them riled by “thinking free” and helping others to do the same.
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Jeff Minick lives in Front Royal, Virginia, and may be found online at jeffminick.com. He is the author of two novels, Amanda Bell and Dust on Their Wings, and two works of non-fiction, Learning as I Go and Movies Make the Man.