Oct 24, 2009

Passivity, Authority, and Cynicism

We were invited to a church group picnic today to meet friends of our son and his wife. Amidst the fun and food, the D.I.L. trots out baby pics of my son that she had gleefully pounced on as we were still unpacking at the house. Paul's friends were amazed to see proof of his wittle, cute wittle, vulnerable self as a mere babe and toddler.

One young dad said to me, "It's really something to see pics of him so little and cute, because anyone will tell you that when Paul walks into a room, the testosterone level jumps up off the scale. He just brings such a sense of his own manliness with him, we're all impressed."

I secretly glowed with pride at such high praise that reflected so well on his father: The Authority. The Man. The Do-er. The One Who Will Not Be Bullshitted.

Back to today. Well, actually, to yesterday, as I went with my darling D.I.L. to visit the home of some nearby neighbors for the purpose of checking on the elderly matriarch to see if all was well. The home reeked of human grunge and little cockroaches were hatching before my eyes while the D.I.L. was sweetly speaking with the old woman. I kept a wary eye on the varmits, and on the other people in the home. The old woman's son was there, as well. As was a grandson or great-grandson. Men were in this house.

But Authority was not.

That home reeked of a passivity and lack of anyone ever taking charge, ever manning up enough to even just vacuum the carpet. It reeked in a spiritual sense that I could not ignore even in my stubborn resistance to enter into that particular attitude of involvement.

There was a poverty of action. Men, totally robbed of any desire. . . no, robbed of even the knowledge of What To Do. No authority, just a passive acceptance of what had been handed to them from whomever raised them. It is the saddest thing you can imagine. And it made me angry at the government class-mongering politicians that robbed these men of even the knowledge of What To Do in their own home. Men without a clue.

*****

The pernicious passivity that plagues so many of our menfolk, from Obama to my neighbors, reeks of a decay that eventually reaches the physical senses after it has eaten away the moral ones. The inability to act; to clean a pot, sweep a floor, or, if you will, send troops in support of our international obligations or enforce a deadline, is a passivity that will not bring peace to a home or a nation; indeed, it will bring death. A parent that will threaten but not follow through is setting up a negative result that redounds to their disinclination and their passive-- or just plain lazy-- attitude toward any challenge.

It leaves a person or a people open to the lightest winds of change as double-minded polarities of inaction lessen the pull of a gravitational center. We risk becoming lighter than air in a turbulent, troubled political atmosphere. Which makes for easy target practice for more single-minded men of action as we drift and bump along toward. . . wherever.

Cynical Passivity. Just say no.

If you read here you most likely have not given up or in to willful passivity. However, our particular challenge is to not become worthlessly cynical. Yes, it's true: all your wise cynicism will not buy you a cup of coffee. Lily Tomlin once famously said, "I try to be cynical, but it's hard to keep up." That's how it feels today. It is sooo tempting to just crack wise amidst the blurring chaff of so many national emergencies and the onslaught of the Nanny State directives. But you know full well that your old Dad (meant to include any parent who understands the nature of authority) would kick your ass for not caring about your Duty, because he had the Authority to move you from your place of complacency; he was no politician to be bribed, but a Reckoner and a Righter of Wrongs.

My task today is to provoke a bit of encouragement; to remind myself and perhaps you, dear reader, that we musn't grow weary in our vigilance. The temptation to cynical passivity is just as damaging as the enervating and hopeless situation of those who long ago heard the siren call of, "just let someone else take care of it. " Well, "someone else" is a hireling who cares less for your concerns than you do. "Someone else" is a politician, after all, to be bought and directed by men of action.

And now we have elected a man who refuses to enact the authority placed in him, fecklessly still voting "present" as though just showing up entitles him to accolades and considerations; who whines that nobody else is "mopping up the mess" because somewhere in his training, he was conditioned to let somebody else take care of things, thinking himself above or below the pay grade of any certain action. It stinks. It offends the senses and sensibilities of grown-ups everywhere.

Never forget how bad passivity reeks or the vermin it breeds. I certainly can't, even after just a few minutes in the anarchy of a home without active authority, I felt the need to thoroughly wash my mind and nostrils of the residual stench.

And the unforgettable sight of the little hatchling cockroaches headed toward my feet?. . . Not in my house. Not in my country. Not in our future.

Get up. Get out. Get loud. Get heard.

23 comments:

julie said...

"Poverty of action."

Now that's a powerful concept. When Authority is abolished, passivity and decay will swiftly take over. But I take heart; there are still a great many Sheepdogs in this nation. Whatever is to come, we are not completely enslaved to the state just yet. The cynically passive may yet be beaten back for another generation or two, though like cockroaches they will continue to thrive in the dark and neglected spaces of the human heart.

But not every heart. And Authority does have a way, at times, of spurring even the most passive to action.

Velociman said...

One of the worst outcomes of this passivity is the ability for government-paid, community-organizing bullies to get up inside these peoples' lives. That's why the gummint types hate volunteer caretakers and charitable organizations. You might cluebat these passives into doing something for themselves.

Dubya Bee said...

When Reagan and Bush felt the need for some action, they got out the chainsaws and did some manly cleaning.

Obama? Hanging frickin' curtains. He may have some God given testosterone, but he's got no manliness.

Joan of Argghh! said...

George MacDonald often said, "if any man will do, he will know," and used such an idea in several of his stories. Action brings clear thinking, it brings more action, clears away depression and fires up the creative synapses.

I would guess that the logical offshoot of such results is to state that, "if any man will do, he will be free."

And there we see where freedom dies, from good men doing nothing.

And you know, that's why the Left hates the military, too, because it breeds men and women of action, and understands authority's place in that action.

Sal said...

Joan-
Thank you so much for this. Wrote it just when I needed to hear it.
A lot of weeds died yesterday, thanks to my general crankiness with everything.
In my heart, I salute everyone who keeps on keeping on when it would be so much easier to just blank it all out, not care, or cover any caring with cynicism.I'm tempted, but my conscience would eat a hole in me.
Your kids sound like wonderful folks. Ours are doing their best to raise the babies to be likewise. It is such a privelege to be able to help them.

Again, thanks! This was masterful.

LauraB said...

Was it the waffles? I dunno - all I know is that this was an absolutely amazing essay.

Thank you for taking the time to put it all into words. Now, if you and Vman would join forces on a ticket...imagine the speeches...

patti said...

Amen! Sing it sister!

Get up, get loud, get heard.

Edward said...

Joan,

That was excellently put!

Thank you,

Edward

Jim - PRS said...

Damned fine post, Joan.

Mizz E said...

"But Authority was not."

Sister Joan your patron saint is smiling on you and I am a grateful beneficiary. You see a dear relative, w/o comment, had sent a link to this screed this morning, and while I could see all the dark MPs at play in the mind of Miss Dowd, I was sadly reminded that the sender of the link cannot and will not see so many things because she has abandoned her quest for Truth, Beauty and Goodness in favor of the corrupted teachings of the New Age authorities, a la Oprah & a la Obama.

Mrs. Who said...

Excellent article!

In fact, I've just finished printing up " 'Poverty of Action' is not allowed in this classroom. " to go along with my " 'Willful Ignorance' is not allowed in this classroom. " signs.

Erica said...

Outstanding...can't argue with a single word.

Sparrow said...

Amen and amen! Well said, sister.

Ricky Raccoon said...

"The pernicious passivity that plagues so many of our menfolk, from Obama to my neighbors, reeks of a decay that eventually reaches the physical senses after it has eaten away the moral ones. The inability to act; to clean a pot, sweep a floor, or, if you will, send troops in support of our international obligations or enforce a deadline, is a passivity that will not bring peace to a home or a nation; indeed, it will bring death."

Ok. Now read that again as if Gen. Washington had written it in his darkest hour. He too could not believe the rabble he signed up to lead.
Yet, here we are, thanks be to God.

Great post, Joan.

Don Mills said...

Wonderfully written and very powerful. Well done Joan. Really. Very well done.

Joanie said...

Amazing!

I can't think of anything else that would adequately follow all you've written, nor could I do it so well.

Thank you.

monkeyfan said...

Spot on.



Word Verification - cable, as in; I haven't had cable for many years.

samaBlog said...

Well put. Best antidote for this is a dose of reality, aka no welfare check.

dogette said...

Joan, I love the way you write.

Van said...

"Men were in this house.

But Authority was not.

...Never forget how bad passivity reeks or the vermin it breeds. I certainly can't, even after just a few minutes in the anarchy of a home without active authority, I felt the need to thoroughly wash my mind and nostrils of the residual stench."

Excellent post Joan. Any polity without Authority, Moral Authority, is in anarchy, and passively waiting in the shadows for an excuse for sullen violence.

Idle hands....

Joan of Argghh! said...

Laura, if you and Brigid would just team up, we could build a new country on sheer will-power!

Erica and the rest of the blown-eyed crowd, I'm just hoping to be as good as ya'll some day.

Dear Raccoons, your kind reckoning of my opinion means so much.

And to all, thank you for affirmation. I'm learning to just hit, "post" before I dink with something too much. It's not all my thoughts, not the best composition, but sometimes, ya just gotta go with it.

*mwuah!*

And no, didn't have to go to J'ville to meet Obama. Thankfully.

diamond dave said...

You have just become my inspiration for the week. Probably for the month. Possibly for the rest of the year.

ZZMike said...

You just shot a perfect bullseye.

The Left has been working diligently ever since about ol' John Dewey's time to turn our kids (the first generation of whom are now working on the current generation) into dependent wimps. No playing tag at school - somebody might get his feelings hurt. No playing soccer or football - somebody might get their shoulder hurt.

Here's a quote from C. S. Lewis, in "The Abolition of Man" (off I go to search.....). He wrote that in 1943, slamming England's education system.

MEN WITHOUT CHESTS

Chapter 1

"...
The operation of The Green Book and its kind is to produce what may be called Men without Chests. It is an outrage that they should be commonly spoken of as Intellectuals. This gives them the chance to say that he who attacks them attacks Intelligence. It is not so. They are not distinguished from other men by any unusual skill in finding truth nor any virginal ardour to pursue her. Indeed it would be strange if they were: a persevering devotion to truth, a nice sense of intellectual honour, cannot be long maintained without the aid of a sentiment which Gaius and Titius could debunk as easily as any other. It is not excess of thought but defect of fertile and generous emotion that marks them out. Their heads are no bigger than the ordinary: it is the atrophy of the chest beneath that makes them seem so.

And all the time — such is the tragi-comedy of our situation — we continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more 'drive', or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or 'creativity'. In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful."

It's worth a read.