A group of insane men lived together on the outskirts of an ancient village. They were not insane in a dangerous or psychotic way, but in the way of foolishness. Every village has an idiot or two. This village was blessed with an entire troop.
They would come to town whenever there was a wedding, festival, or feast. Being simpletons, they loved to eat, dance, and of course, drink. On one such celebration they came to the village and over the course of the evening were all over-served.
Staggering drunk, the poor fools attempted to wobble their way home. Unsuccessful, they collapsed in one great heap, and there they slept off their collective stupor until morning. As the sun began to rise, they began wailing in anguish. A village elder was passing by and asked, “What is wrong?” One of the men answered, “We fell asleep entangled! All our limbs have gone to sleep and we can’t tell whose leg, neck, or arm belongs to whom!” The village elder laughed. “This is easily solved,” he said. He reached down, picked up a tree limb, and began whittling with his knife until he had achieved a sharp point at one end of the stick. Then, at the first leg he saw, he gave it a jab. “Owwww!” one of the fools cried. “See there!” the wise man said. “I found this leg’s owner!”
Around the pile of bodies he went. Stabbing a hand here; thumping a head there; and each time one of the group would startle, cry out in pain, but his feeling and circulation would return. So it went, until all were disentangled and on their way home. It’s a bizarre story, for sure, but these are bizarre times. Our insane and foolish society has fallen into a heap. We are twisted and entangled, like nothing seen in my lifetime, the collective howl serving as proof that we need wisdom – a few village elders – to help us get back on our feet.
Yes, we have done this to ourselves: Years of growing inequities; polarization fueled by selfish politicians; the loss of moral, ethical, and compassionate standards; the unchecked proliferation of all our “isms” – chauvinism, racism, charlatanism, militarism, fundamentalism, corporatism, and egotism. This is the tangled web we have weaved.
What will be required to recover? A necessary, four-letter word: Pain. We need our moral senses jabbed, as it were, by a sharp stick. We have to get our feeling back, even if it requires a kick to the head. We must be willing to accept the suffering of repentance – the changing of our hearts, minds, and ways – or we will remain in a fallen heap.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil,” said the oft quoted Edmund Burke, “is for good men to do nothing.” True. And the only thing that will keep a people entangled, ensnared, and on the ground, is their unwillingness to let the pain of these days force them to rise.