This machine leads to the shadowy tip of reality; open the screen and you’re on your way to the land of the different, the bizarre, the unexplainable… Take as long as you like on your journey. Your limits are only those of your mind and your tolerance for folly, ignorance, and corruption. Ladies and gentlemen, you’re entering the wondrous and weird dimension of crazy… Next stop is the Twilight Zone.
With apologies to any offended fans for this makeover of Rod Serling’s introduction to The Twilight Zone, this is how I feel whenever I open my laptop, visit various news sites, and encounter the colossal amusement park of the fantastic, the strange, and the terrifying.
Here are just a few takeaways from this day’s visit to the Twilight Zone:
On June 16, the L.A. Dodgers will host a “Pride Night” featuring The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, “an anti-Catholic group of LGBT activists whose shtick is to dress as Catholic nuns and do lewd things in public,” such as feigning sodomy and mocking sacred rites with Condom Savior Masses.
Sports Illustrated announced that transgender woman (biological man) and pop star Kim Petras will appear as one of four cover models for its Swimsuit edition. As has happened so often recently in the world of sports, chromosomes XY trump chromosomes XX.
Washington Post reporter Jeff Stein became an interpreter of gibberish when he transcribed stroke-stricken Sen. John Fetterman’s muddled remarks into passable English.
Meanwhile, stumbling Joe Biden took yet another weekend vacation from his duties at the White House.
And finally, this two-minute montage of COVID clips summed up the crazy land of the recent pandemic.
The bits above are only a partial sampling of one morning’s visit to the American Twilight Zone. Corruption in the FBI and Department of Justice appears endemic, the Durham Report has brought government deception into the sunlight, violent crime leaves more dead and wounded in our cities. On it goes, and where it ends nobody knows.
So, in this cultural bedlam, how do we keep our own sanity and sense of balance? How do we read the news and yet avoid shrinking into hopelessness or depression?
All of us, I suspect, have our own coping mechanisms. Here are some that work for me.
Trust your instincts. Whether it’s the government wanting more of your money, laws decreeing electric vehicles and banning gas stoves, or Will Thomas becoming a top female swimmer, if something seems off to you, that’s probably the case.
Trust your eyes. Close that laptop and look around you. I would guess, for example, that the staff and the working men and women who frequent the small local market near my house are mostly conservative in their views on culture and politics. Some in our government call them domestic extremists, whereas I see good, hardworking people who, though battered by life, still fight the good fight.
Build a circle of like-minded people. In her recent book The Weaponization of Loneliness: How Tyrants Stoke Our Fear of Isolation to Silence, Divide, and Conquer, Stella Morabito analyzes the fear of ostracism, the dread of being separate from a group, the terror of speaking out or standing alone, and how dictators use all this as a weapon against freedom. We can best protect ourselves, she explains, by nurturing relationships in our private lives with family and friends.
Be happy warriors. There’s a war going on, and like it or not, we’re all foot soldiers on that battlefield. We may believe that our adversaries are the deceivers and blackguards dominating the news, but we are mistaken. Our real enemies are not made of flesh-and-blood; no, they are the spirits of our age, and the deadliest weapon at their disposal is despair. If they can render us alone, and lost, and hopeless, they will win, and we will become their prisoners.
Joy is the most effective shield against this poison. The old virtues of faith, hope, and charity comprise that shield. Faith in God and in the wisdom of our ancestors, hope for a future in which truth and justice win out, and the charity expressed by Abraham Lincoln in his second inaugural address: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right.”
We can find this joy—this great happiness—in family members and friends, in our faith communities, in worthy books, in the arts and in nature, and in performing to the best of our abilities the responsibilities that come with being a good citizen in the country we love.
Keep those fires burning, and the twilight can never become night.
Image credit: Flickr-Ged Carroll, CC BY 2.0