How we're trained to be like everyone else...
In the Steps of Walter Mitty
There is a principle of the evil one at work in this present western society. We call it LEVELING. Though symptoms of this have been seen in previous times, it has surely reached its pinnacle in our generation. Such a principle can only take place at a time when individuals in the society have lost their own passion and vitality and have become incapable of saying or doing anything contrary to the LEVELED norm. Ultimately, it steals from the individual his very life. He can no longer stand firm in anything, is powerless to speak the things deep in his own heart, and is unable to "take dominion" over anything, being himself totally dominated and manipulated without even being aware of it consciously. He is lulled into believing that he is satisfied and content in a "Walter Mitty" state of nothingness. He no longer has the potential to become what he was created to be; he is totally dull -- especially in regards to his need for salvation. Putting man into this mental state is the goal of the evil one's work.
The leveling of the individual begins in early childhood, when his young mind searches and reaches out for everything. In this present age, the evil one's ultimate tool for subduing a child is the seemingly innocent television set. In previous generations the destructive power of leveling could be mainly seen in the press. It was one of the only "media" at that time that had the power to level society. Certain cognitive individuals such as Soren Kierkegaard (from whom some concepts in this paper were taken) saw through the press and exposed it for what it was. Had men such as Kierkegaard been alive today to see this destruction magnified as it is by television and the other modem media tools, he would surely have been appalled.
All in a Day's Work
Nowadays the 'loving parent' sets little Johnnie in front of the TV set at the earliest age possible. Who knows? He might be pacified by it, if only by observing its color and action. From then on Johnnie remains out of one's hair. No longer is he searching and reaching, but rather sits passively and watches quietly. All his passions have been subverted and redirected into mere mental gymnastics. After several hours of gazing into that box, little Johnnie drops off to sleep, totally exhausted from his tiring day of 'non-active activity'. As he grows older this process only matures and deepens in his personality.
Perhaps Johnnie would have grown up to be an impassioned zealot, striving to satisfy a desire deep within himself for justice to be done on earth. As he saw all the injustice around him through the years of his youth, he may have been grieved to the point that as he reached early manhood, he would have been stirred by his fiery heart to take action against it. But not so today. Johnnie's fire has been safely exhausted through hours of thrilling adventure stories, frightening science fiction, erotic love stories, and mind-boggling quiz shows, not to mention the even greater amounts of time spent viewing the emotionless world news commentaries. All together, these have left Johnnie a heady mass of fact and fiction with no life of his own. At night, Johnnie crawls into bed, satisfied by vicariously having climbed Mt. Everest, killed three wanted bank robbers, loved a beautiful debutante, judged and condemned to death a soldier who deserted his post in the midst of a bloody battle, and to top it off, won $10,000 by answering that one question which had baffled all the other contestants on the late, late quiz show. Yawning, he drops off to sleep dreaming of another day of challenges like the one he has just lived through.
Actually all this took place as Johnnie sat passively in his big, soft easy chair, munching on the potato chips he was convinced to buy during one of the commercials. Johnnie himself never really did anything. His own voice was silenced at a very young age. He is no threat to the leveled norm, having been unconsciously molded into the pattern of this present age.
But there is one thing that does rile ol' Johnnie up. It is when he hears of someone who has done something that he calls 'radical'. It bothers him when someone takes a stand contrary to the norm. It doesn't matter whether that stand seems right or just. That isn't the question. What gets to him is the fact that someone has the passion to disagree. Johnnie doesn't even realize why it bothers him so. Poor Johnnie!
The Sound and the Fury
Talk to any average individual in our society and you will find him to be a man of diverse knowledge. By reading his daily newspapers, weekly periodicals, and National Geographics, along with watching the morning talk shows, the nightly news broadcasts, various 'Specials', plus hourly radio news reports, he has amassed a wealth of facts and figures (not to mention, a strong opinion about most every controversial question of the day). On most any contemporary subject he will be "full of sound and fury",but as Shakespeare so aptly put it, "signifying nothing". Though he is a product of years of media consumption, he will eventually die, stuffed full of it, deceived into thinking that he himself has lived a full life. Every bit of his own passion and potential were cleverly drained from him through devices ranging from comic books in childhood to complex documentaries in old age, leaving him worthless as far as accomplishing anything real and concrete. He is active in abstraction but passive in reality. With this type of mind-set prevalent in society, the evil one has a basis to eventually level out the masses and make them ready for his man of lawlessness, the so-called Anti-Christ.
Caught in the Public
The media is the prime implement in this leveling process. In order to level people, the first thing the media does is to rob each individual of his identity as an individual. The media has successfully done this by massing all the people of society into a creation of its own, an abstraction called THE PUBLIC.
"THE PUBLIC feels this way."
"THE PUBLIC won't tolerate such action much longer."
"THE PUBLIC is outraged."
"THE PUBLIC is now tending toward this view."
...and so on, are all common phrases of the media.
Yet, THE PUBLIC is actually a phantom, a mirage, a totally abstract implement used to reduce everyone to the same level. In order for the individual to allow himself to be so classified, and thus subtly manipulated, his own passion, vitality, and potential must be weakened to the point that he can find within himself no concrete identity upon which he can take hold. The media thus gives this gutless individual the identity for which he is so desperately grasping. He finds his niche, safely nestled among the ranks of THE PUBLIC.
Yet in reality the public does not exist at all. It is only a springboard through which the media can manipulate this spineless mass of society. The public is an abstraction. You could never unify all the individuals who supposedly comprise this group. Their real thoughts on any given situation at hand are never known. And it is only the most ignorant who suppose that they are getting an accurate representation of this elusive mass in the various scientific-sounding, media-sponsored public opinion polls. No, the public remains intangible and immeasurable.
Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death
At times in history when people have been compelled by and invigorated with a great zeal to see some goal realized, regardless whether it was noble or base, there was no place for such an abstraction as THE PUBLIC. For each individual had his own identity and his own passionate response to that goal, knowing that he himself would have to answer for the firm stand which he had taken. The individual may have adopted the views of the majority, or, if he were the quarrelsome type, the minority, yet he personally took the responsibility for his views. But nowadays, to adopt the same views as the public leaves the individual with only the illusion of identity. Within that grouping there is nothing concrete enough to which one could steadfastly adhere. In fact, if a person were to adopt the 'opinion' of THE PUBLIC on some issue today and stand firm in it, tomorrow he would be hissed at for his view. And it would be the same public whose view he had adopted that would be hissing at him. Unlike individuals who can be made ashamed for their inconsistent and unfaithful behavior, the public remains unrepentant. The public can totally reverse its views overnight and still be the same public as the day before -- with no apologies. This can only be said of an abstraction. Yet strangely enough, it is this very abstraction which forms the thinking patterns of multitudes today.
Pictured as a person, the public can be likened to one of the Roman emperors of old -- a large, well-fed figure suffering from boredom, and looking only for the sensual intoxication of laughter. For a change, he wanders about, indolent rather than bad, but with a negative desire to dominate. Those who know much about history are well aware of what activities such emperors found to keep themselves occupied with.
In the same way that a man keeps a dog to amuse himself, the public uses the media. If someone rises above the rest of his fellows in society and is perhaps even a great man, the public sics their dog on him and sits back to watch the fun. The dog goes for him, snapping and tearing at his clothes, exposing its own dog nature in all its ill-mannered familiarities. This goes on until the public tires of it all and calls the dog off. This is an example of leveling. Those better and superior in strength are thus mishandled. If the blame were to be fixed on someone for this uncalled-for abuse on outstanding individuals, the public would shift the blame to the dog. The public does not claim any responsibility for its own actions, remaining as always, unrepentant. If the dog had to be killed, the public would say, "No one ever liked that bad-tempered dog anyway. Everyone wanted it killed -- even the subscribers and viewers!"
As bad as all this may be, we must remember that the media are also only an abstraction. They are abstract elements in the leveling process that can't truly receive the brunt of the blame for this injustice to mankind. The media are merely tools that men use to flatten out anyone or anything which might be lifted up or admired. For this admiration welling up in an individual might cause him to be dissatisfied with his own leveled condition. Thus if a man does emerge who excels in achievements above the rest, the media go to great measures to make sure his character is smeared in some manner or another, propagating lies and perverting truth to fit its purposes. Achievements that can't be denied are presented in such a way so as to make it look like, "These are the things that anyone could do if only he was given the right circumstances." Thus the public is assured that they are justified in their passive state of nothingness.
No More Heroes
The struggling individual within this leveled society who does strive to do something is hindered by the intimidation of trying to please the public, which is ultimately impossible. Thus it seems that in this day no great men could emerge, for they will be torn down first before they might possibly lead away a rebellion from the passive, leveled norm.
Leveling can be seen most tragically in the Christian churches of today. They reflect perfectly the passionless society in which we dwell. Any burst of life or spontaneity which may spring up in their midst is quickly stifled. This forces any zeal out of the realm of real action and into areas of mere mental exercise. All zeal must be redirected into a place where it can peacefully co-exist within that leveled society. Instead of leading men and women out of society into a common life of love and community, the churches of Christianity promote a life of conformity and a mere philosophy of mental concepts. The Christian life has become an abstraction, void of reality.
The words of the scriptures and the life that these words dictate were never meant to exist within the framework of such a leveled society. Only in the New Israel, in one of the twelve re-gathered tribes can there be found a place to live out the radical, zeal-filled life that is called for. This new life sets men free from the leveled nothingness which exists in this society. It sets them free from the tyranny that the evil one holds over mankind, the tyranny that has put men in the pitiful condition that they are in. Leveled men fit perfectly under the evil one's thumb and never make waves, for they dwell in a vacuum where their passions are re-channeled into harmless realms. Leveled men may shout their heads off at a football game, or grind their teeth over a lost golf ball, but they are strangely unemotional about the kingdom of God.
Deep in all men is a voice that cries out for deliverance and for salvation from such an evil society. Men desire deeply the freedom for which they were originally created. And were the voice of that deep desire to surface in an individual, that man would surely find the very Salvation that he cried out for. This Salvation has been abundantly supplied to every man who will call out for it. He will not only be saved eternally but also will be saved and delivered from this present leveled society. Though he may have been trained from childhood to be passive and leveled, he can now be set free to express the true life given him by his Creator. Coming out from our leveled society, we are straining every nerve of our being to reject every trace of it and keep it from infiltrating the place where our Creator has chosen to make His name dwell. May we never be leveled again but instead set forth the standard of true life, true love, and true passion.