Apocalypse Now All Over Again? or 7 Lessons I Want My Son to Take Away from this Week in History (6 minute read)

Most people associate the word “apocalypse” with a disaster or horrible event nearing the end of times. Actually, the word means “to uncover” or “an unveiling.” My hope is that this blog will provide some “unveiling” for you.

If you’re a new reader this blog is about raising a boy to be a “Tender Lion,” and how to do that in a very challenging world. This last week brought with it some terribly challenging events, and I’m predicting that the coming weeks will bring more equally as challenging.

How do I help my son process and discern what to make of hundreds of young to middle-aged white men, most of whom claim to be Christian like me, overrunning the U.S. Capitol. Here are seven observations I’d share with my son:

  1. Violence, and the beliefs that support it as the best approach, are a failed strategy. In Matthew 10:16 Jesus said, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”
  2. What happened at the Capitol was not coincidental. Rioters were armed with combat-grade gear (mace, bulletproof vests, clubs, guns, helmets, walkie-talkies, tear gas, explosive devices, zip-ties, etc.). I’d advise my son that some of the insurrectionists probably intended to do far worse than they actually did.
  3. Beliefs based in fantasy are just as compelling as those based in fact. In almost any given situation, as much as I believe “they are wrong,” someone else will be just as convinced that “they are right and I am wrong.” Ergo, one of us is wrong. Or maybe we’re both wrong.
  4. There’s no use trying to be rational with someone with faulty entrenched beliefs. This is not an intelligence or rational issue. It is something baked deeply into the human condition. By the way, I believe all of us are susceptible to that kind of thinking. (Read Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “On Stupidity” – He explains why many people blindly followed Hitler’s evil and deranged way.)
  5. All of us have blind spots which limit our ability to see what is so observable to others. For years I thought hiding my addiction was the only way to preserve my family. But the longer I lied, the more profoundly, negatively the addiction affected me and my family. It wasn’t until I got honest and got help that we had any chance of healing and healthy relationships. Continuing to lie to myself and others is just intellectual dishonesty, and will never produce a healthy result. You may be saying, “Duh Brian, any sane person or counselor could have told you that.” Precisely! You could see it…I didn’t. It took me years to come around to seeing it clearly, and then I needed to muster the courage to surrender old, sick beliefs and change behaviors.
  6. Those who disagree with me are not my enemies. In Romans Chapter 12 we are told to “bless those who persecute” us. The only thing we’re supposed to hate is evil. I know this is counterintuitive, but this is the path to a better result. Love is the answer.
  7. Social media is filled with powerful truths and also the most powerful and destructive lies. It is easy to only consume the things that align with our world view and then say, “See, I told you so!” Here’s a fascinating experiment. Watch about 10 minutes of Sean Hannity (Fox News) and then watch 10 minutes of Chris Cuomo on CNN. You will see two highly articulate, powerful media celebrities with enormous followings. It’s as if they stand at the same window all day, peering through…from the opposite direction. Remember that cable news has two primary objectives that have nothing to do with bringing you pure news that educates, enlightens and makes you a better citizen. They are: 1) to make lots of money for their stockholders and 2) to promote a world-view that continually feeds its base what it wants to hear. This is a never-ending cycle that further divides our neighbors with who lack critical thinking skills, and don’t know it. Only consuming what already agrees with us only further “dumbs us down.”
  8. Okay, I know I said “7 Lessons”, so here’s a bonus for you. The “Stolen Election.” I’d tell my son about Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, who said, “If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes accepted as truth.” 2012 was the first time I can find that Trump claimed election fraud (Romney vs. Obama). He’s been saying it over and over again without any basis in fact for eight years now. I’d tell my son that the election wasn’t actually all that close, and there have been numerous elections much closer in my lifetime. I’d tell him that in actuality, in the US the largest group of registered voters are Independents (34%), followed closely by Democrats (33%) and then followed by Republicans (29%)* Pew Research. This means out of the 239 million eligible voters, there are 9 million more Democrats than Republicans, and more Independents “lean left than right”, so is it a huge surprise that Biden won? I’d tell him that after careful examination that I’ve never seen more cameras, more scrutiny, more careful hand counting and re-counting in my life…so I trust the electoral process. It was perhaps the most accurate election in American history. I’d tell him that the president endlessly discouraged his own base from voting by mail in the middle of a dangerous pandemic, which likely suppressed Republican voter turnout. And I’d tell him that there were good, honest Republican and Democrats workers in voting polls across America. I’d tell him that the dozens of legal challenges mounted by the President were all thrown out (except one), and those cases were listened to by Republican and Democratic judges (some appointed by President Trump). And that he (I listened to the recording) asked election officials in Georgia to break the law and “find votes” for him. “Conspiracy theory” surrounding the election is a baseless and empty claim, and that any elected officials still claiming there was fraud personify many of the ideas I’ve just written about, and deserve our prayers.

What we all have witnessed, thus far, is hard to believe and yet almost predictable based on recent circumstances. Finally, I’d tell my son that it’s not over. Pay attention. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Say your prayers. Trust your gut, and your dad.

I’d love to hear what you think about my seven points. Feel free to post on Facebook or message me. What we don’t need now is people endlessly reposting things on social media that they aren’t 100% certain are true and helpful. And what our country needs is every Tender Lion (and Lioness) we can muster right now. Ethical, discerning, peaceful, measured, determined, soft and strong, tough and tender. Keep going!

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Many of these blog entries are edited excerpts from Tender Lions: Building the Vital Relationship Between Father and Son

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