Who Are You Going to Believe, Me or Your Lying Eyes? - December 8, 2014

You may think that we have enough problems living in a dangerous world, with enemies, it seems, in every corner of the globe, at a time when you do not need a massive, well-equipped army to cause terrible chaos and destruction. Nowadays, some juvenile genius can create havoc using a computer, a third-world tyrant can oversee mass murder on a scale that only a few decades ago we would never have suspected could be achieved, or a small gang of thugs can poison our drinking water or attack an electrical grid that, if successful, could harm literally millions.

There have always been bad actors, but nothing so easily accomplished as today. In the worst of times, there were still at least a few leaders who were stalwart and strong. Now Western Europe, at one time not long ago the central power in the world, has no one who is willing to stand tall. If you think about the strong leaders in this world who are not themselves beasts, they indeed exist, but in smaller countries (such as Australia and Canada for starters) who are unable, by themselves, to make the world a safe place. One is reminded of the famous lines in W.B. Yeats’s The Second Coming:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

In times of trouble from the past, what we found lacking was gumption and valor, which we see well enough in Europe. Now, no one on earth expects Europe to lead us out of this growing nightmare. We look for someone who is believable . . . at least enough so that we can dare to close our lying eyes in the hope that another will seem credible.

Three centuries ago, we were so isolated that we could ignore the evil in the world. Two centuries ago, we saw the possibility of becoming a power in our own place, strong enough to outlast a foreign invasion. One century ago, we became first one of the powers and then the power in the world. But now we are led by one who is indifferent to our place in the world. It is not fear, it is not misunderstanding, it is not stupidity that we see everywhere now. It is indifference. Things fall apart and our leader asks “who are you going to believe?”