If there’s one thing locking down a few hundred million people, and confining many of their social interactions to online activity has exposed, it’s this quote attributed to Andrew Fletcher, from the early 18th century.
…if a man were permitted to make all the ballads he need not care who should make the laws of a nation, and we find that most of the ancient legislators thought that they could not well reform the manners of any city without the help of a lyric, and sometimes of a dramatic poet.
As if to prove the point, the numerous threads about movie lines and musical eras bouncing about Twitter show how our culture is guided by the songs and big screen of our youth, and bound by the current cultural tides of the time. Even in this divided nation, we can all agree that The Empire Strikes Back is the finest of the Star Wars movies, and The Godfather series influenced actual mobster culture more than the other way around.
“A person is smart. People are dumb.” The quote comes from Men in Black, spoken by Agent K in response to J’s (Edwards) question: “Why the big secret? People are smart, they can handle it.” K’s offhand remark is more reflective of the actual state of human nature than any speech by any governor, or any Trump press conference, or any warning by Dr. Anthony Fauci could ever be.
This is not a new sentiment. In Mary Poppins, Mrs. Banks’ character sings of her primary cause (which is not to raise her children, sadly), to gain the vote for women in England.
We’re clearly soldiers in petticoats
And dauntless crusaders for woman’s votes
Though we adore men individually
We agree that as a group they’re rather stupid!
Going back several thousand years, the Bible contains verses about the heart of man. Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Mark 7:21-23 (words of Jesus): “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
The human heart informs the mind, but is opposed by the conscience. We, as a social species, constantly seek the approval and confirmation of our basest desires–the poison fruit of our heart. When we reach an end to ourselves, and meet the grace of God, this is when the mind of Christ is introduced, and God replaces our diseased heart with a new one.
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.Ezekiel 36:26
But the old heart is still there, just waiting for confirmation, and someone to give it a reason to overpower the new spirit and mind residing within. The effects of the Gospel are eternal in scope–the believer goes to Heaven–but temporally local in effect. If not constantly refilled, the effect becomes tarnished, like oxidized silver with a black patina.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.Romans 12:2
The “pattern of this world” is where group/herd/tribe behavior meets the truth, and overwhelms it. Read this paragraph from Psychology Today:
When outbreaks occur, people often find scapegoats to blame. Jews were shunned during the Bubonic Plague in the 1500s. During the 1918 Spanish flu, people feared it was being deliberately spread by Germans. The 2003 SARS outbreak was thought to have been made in a laboratory as a biological weapon. During the 2015 Zika pandemic, conspiracy theorists claimed the virus was bioengineered by the Monsanto corporation. Currently, 29% of Americans believe SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was deliberately made in a lab.
If you’re brave enough to prove this, bring up Monsanto during an essential oil multilevel marketing meeting, and prepare to get an earful.
Here’s some of the stuff people, together, being dumb, believe about COVID-19.
- The spread of 5G networks is linked to COVID-19.
- Bill Gates is planning to implant microchips into our bodies as part of a coronavirus vaccine.
- The virus was engineered by China in a lab. (This one is not easily debunked, as there is plenty of circumstantial evidence that the virus was not initially spread to humans as the Chinese government claims.)
- Related: COVID-19 is a bio-weapon created by the Chinese. Not that the Chinese Communists aren’t capable of doing this, being a morally bankrupt totalitarian form of government–29% of Americans polled by Pew Research believe this.
- The U.S. military planted the virus into China–this one promoted by the Chinese foreign ministry.
- It’s GMOs. Anti-vaxxers of both political stripes love this one.
- The Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine gives immunity to COVID-19. It does not.
- The whole COVID-19 pandemic is a hoax. Other than Q-anon, flat-earthers, and chemtrail believers, this is not a widespread belief anymore, but earlier this year, it was certainly popular.
- Dr. Fauci is a deep-state operative, “working with Hillary Clinton to undermine Donald Trump” (according to a Buzzfeed article). The president seems to believe this at times.
- COVID-19 death counts are inflated to justify continued lockdowns. People don’t understand that there are many ways to classify and report deaths, and changing these standards isn’t proof of some nefarious conspiracy.
- The strange and disturbing appearance of Kawasaki disease is part of some plot to promote Democrats’ TRACE Act, forcing Americans to become part of a national snitch network, for the “sake of the kids.”
- Georgia Department of Public Health is forging data to mask spikes since Gov. Brian Kemp lifted restrictions. This one gets legs from the media, which would prefer to believe it, smelling blood in the water with Kemp’s approval ratings low (but the state is opening up and new cases are still declining).
I could go on with the list. I’m sure, for example, somewhere, someone is blaming “The Jews” for COVID-19. People, by our stripes, and our dark hearts, will latch on to any truth-starved narrative that paints someone as the enemy, and ourselves as lone heroes, banded together in a righteous quest for justice.
The real counter-culture is the one that recognizes this, and places our fates in the hands of a loving, supernatural superintendent of history and the future. This realization leads people who find it within themselves to forgive those who seek answers in validating their own fears. It leads people to be individually smart, and to forgive those who “know not what they do.” Even political opponents.
Unlike Agents J and K in Men in Black, the regenerated heart and the mind of Christ don’t look to mask or cover up the truth. Christians aren’t walking around with holy neuralizers, but the transcendent truth of the Gospel and its power to transform hearts regardless of the condition of our bodies and the world’s politics.
The pattern of this world is that people are dumb. But a person is smart enough to handle the truth. Be smart.