Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Salem Moments

The thing about historians is that they understand that there is really nothing new in the human condition.  We, as a species, have already made the mistakes that we continue to make, and we refuse to learn from them.  Victor Davis Hanson is one such historian and he pens an article
The Greeks knew well of the transitory nature of these mass panics. They claimed such fits were inspired by the Maniae, the three daughters of Night who were the goddesses of insanity, madness, and crazed frenzy. We’ve seen all three of them in action throughout the past year.
Dr. Hanson talks about the frenzy of the 24-hour news cycle. 

Collusion everywhere and no where.
 For about six months, cable news shows, the internet, and the major newspapers ginned up the charge of “Russian collusion”—as a means of explaining the otherwise inexplicable and unacceptable defeat of Hillary Clinton by someone without either political or military experience.
Racism and the NFL
Soon the players’ incoherent messaging was passed off by the media as some sort of grassroots Rosa Parks civil rights movement. But as viewers turned their channels and stadia emptied, the hysterical outbursts began to cool.
The Statue Busters
 About the same time came the statue hysteria. America woke up one day and decided that century-old statues of Confederate generals or archetypical southern soldiers were proof of pernicious racism. So they had to be removed—by the dead of night and by the mob if necessary
The Sex Predators
 The next collective furor arose over Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. Sometime in October 2017, the progressive film titan was abruptly condemned as sick, evil, and unhinged—after 30 years of common knowledge that he routinely sought to use his power of hiring and firing to leverage or force sexual gratification.
Go, as they say, and read the whole thing.  Dr. Hanson writes concisely and turns a phrase nicely.  But, I am struck by how much this time in our recent history looks like the Salem Witch trials.   Such frenzies come and go, but I am reminded of the lesson from John 8, where our Lord was asked about the punishment of the woman caught in adultery. 
7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
I, for one, are tired of the witch trials.  Justice is important, but so is mercy.  What our popular culture has forgotten is that what is now forbidden was once acceptable.    We have progressed as a people in many ways, but we have forgotten how we all acted  twenty, thirty, forty years ago.   I know that I am not without sin and doubt that those casting metaphorical stones today are without sin.

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