“The economy is out of sight. Unimaginable wealth and luxury is all around. America rules the world. So why is everyone so depressed?” [“America the Blue,” by Kalle Lasn and Bruce Grierson, The Utne Reader, September 22, 2000.]
As the global village blasts off into the 21st century, many are enjoying unprecedented economic prosperity. Yet the increasing number of people who are lonely and alienated is unrivaled by any other time in human history. Why?
The crushing loneliness that many face as they pour their cereal at the breakfast table, or sip their coffee at the local diner, is simply a side effect of the fast-paced, popular culture we live in. While the industrialized world is basking in unequaled levels of wealth, medicine, science, and life expectancy, its people are plummeting into an epidemic of sadness.
Skeptics will scoff, “Crisis? What Crisis?!” But strip away the denial, the wishful thinking, the facade of sunny, can-do Americanism, and it becomes clear that something is wrong at a fundamental level in the lives of vast numbers of people. It isn’t so much what is happening to those people as what isn’t. Something vital is missing. Something essential and meaningful has been displaced by something hollow. The possibility that forces outside our control are overwhelming us, changing us, is so frightening that many people frantically grasp at safe responses to their escalating anxiety.
People rely in record numbers on prescription drugs.1 They escape into the multimedia pleasureplex in an attempt to cope with reality. The French radical Gilles Ivain wrote of the beginnings of this some thirty years ago: “A mental illness has swept the planet” no more laughter, no more dreams. Just the endless traffic, the blank eyes that pass you by, the nightmarish junk we’re all dying for. Everyone is hypnotized by work and comfort.”
For those living in this hyper-commercialized, global society, a question presents itself: “Have we and the rest of the industrialized world gained power and wealth at the price of a piece of our soul?” Or, in the words of a very misunderstood prophet of 2000 years ago: “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”2
The moment you confront these questions head on, the cool, commercial faÃ§ade of this magnificent civilization suddenly dissolves. Before you is a web of psychological, sociological, and cyber-cultural threads, and behind you a wake of meaningless existence. “Why am I sad? Why was I created? Why can’t I love? What am I living for?” These questions gnaw at your soul, like someone trapped under the ice in a river, frantically searching, desperately trying to claw their way out” but where is the opening?
So now, into the midst of the most fundamentally isolated society in human history plops the Internet. Instead of old-fashioned relationships, people are now promoting the Net culture. Chat rooms are the craze. You laser in by subject, interacting with people “along a slender strand of common vocational interests.” People have now effectively surrounded themselves with specialists, whom they call on briefly for one thing only - to fulfill themselves.
In this, the affluent members of the human species have made a sudden leap from a real to an electronic environment. For generations, human beings have gotten their cues from each other and from nature. Now, they get them from the computer and video game screens. Could this be related to the ever-increasing rates of clinical depression and loneliness?
These technological placebos lift the mood, calm the nerves, and attempt to fill the ever-increasing void in peoples’ lives. Emanating from their screens are thousands of explicit and subliminal marketing messages every day teeming with sex and violence. The underlying purpose of this electronic culture is to keep people entertained, and numbed to the moral panic that is happening all around them.
Depression is a symptom or a defensive response that tells us something important about ourselves or our culture. It makes no sense to clip its alarm wires with drugs like Prozac. This however, is what countless people are doing. And for the masses, who are mindlessly being herded down a psychotropic path to pledge allegiance to this new world order, everything seems fine and dandy. The alarm is simply not sounding.
Postmodernism is a philosophy that says we’ve reached an endpoint in human history. The “modernist” traditions of advancement and ceaseless extension of the frontiers of innovation are now dead. Originality is dead. The avant-garde artistic tradition is dead. All religions and utopian visions are dead. And resistance to the status quo is impossible because revolution, too, is now dead. Like it or not, people are stuck in a permanent crisis of meaning, a dark room from which they can never escape.
Amazingly, all of this was envisioned 2500 years ago by a prophet named Daniel. The political, social, religious, and economic luster of this emerging global society was depicted as an enormous statue - a Colossus.3 It was awesome and its appearance was dazzling and of extraordinary splendor. The feet of Colossus represented the religiously dominated political system that would rule the planet in the last days of human history. While elections will still be held and people will still go about business as usual, Colossus will have intruded into every aspect of normal life, passing moral laws to hold the decaying society together, while offering peace, prosperity, and security for those who submit to its rule.
Just as Rome embraced Christianity to save the decaying empire, so again, Colossus will join forces with this mighty world religion and usher in a new global church-state that will dominate the entire world. People will swap their freedoms for security in this new world order. All who do not pledge allegiance to Colossus will be dealt with in an appropriate fashion. After all, who but utter rebels would stand in the way of this perfect society?
Colossus is at the root of everything that is happening in society today. The forces at work, although expressed through the words and acts of men and nations, have their source in the spiritual ruler of this world — Satan.
This may be hard to swallow, since Hollywood and the mass media have for decades been successfully giving the Western world an electronic lobotomy. They have made Satan out to be a ridiculously fantastic, red-horned “devil” who is the star of Saturday morning cartoons and the ancient myth of Christianity — he can’t be taken seriously. In the meantime, this virtuoso propagandist has been masterfully herding all of humanity to a very specific destination — a magnificent civilization.
Many will scoff at this ancient prophecy and its relevance to current events, but the parallel of this dream to the contemporary political and religious climate in the world is chilling. Like it or not, when you look underneath the veneer of modern life, you are face-to-face with a decaying, hopeless humanity. Filling this vacuum of well-being is the cold iron strength and the clammy clay persuasion of Colossus, the world government revealed to Daniel in his dream. While promising comfort and security, it is crushing the freedoms and consciences of men.
But there is something else taking shape, something else coming into view. It has nothing to do with Colossus. It has a different source, a different nature. Ultimately it will destroy every trace of Colossus. It is just around the corner.