The Next Great American Plague

It’s no secret that the United States is in a state of frenzied, ever-widening division. It’s also no secret that social media is the top culprit in accelerating the spread of this division. If you haven’t seen the Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma,” you should really do yourself a favor and check it out. For my part, I have no problem with differing points of view; in fact, it’s difficult to grow as a person without at least some exposure to opposing points of view, but the one thing I do look for is consistency.

Consistency is what’s missing in much of our current political discussion.

People have always loved to cherry pick various perceived authorities to inflict their own opinions upon others under the guise of irrefutable fact. The Old Testament book of Leviticus is a classic example, as it is the most quoted text by those who want to judge others based on sexual preference. Leviticus 18:22 prohibits man from lying down from man, it’s true, but Leviticus also prohibits things like wearing a cotton/polyester blend, backyard barbeques, holding a football, and sets down the parameters for selling your own daughter into slavery. Pulling out 18:22 without considering the rest of the book is disingenuous, unless, of course, you actually do plan to sell your daughter and you rail against the NFL on a regular basis. I have yet to meet anyone who wants to look beyond that one verse when they start issuing absurd judgments, and the Bible itself condemns judgement, as in Matthew 7:1 and Luke 6:37.

Why, then, do so many Bible wielders insist on judging others relentlessly?

We see a similar scenario play out whenever the subject of abortion arises. I have never had an abortion, nor have I ever been the cause of one, but I do find it objectionable that Americans feel they have some right to make medical decisions for women they don’t know. This, again, goes back to the evangelical Christian segment of our country, those who want to refer to Biblical admonitions against murder as they make their case that their particular version of God forbids it.

Again, consistency would be nice here. Let’s say that there is an omniscient, all-powerful God presiding over the Earth and that this being forbids abortion. Why, then, is it a thing? Wouldn’t that God prevent rapists from impregnating women? Wouldn’t that God mystically separate the sperm and eggs of a woman whose health would be put in serious jeopardy if she became pregnant? Also, why isn’t abortion, which was a thing in ancient Israel, mentioned even once in The Bible? Perhaps God isn’t as caught up in this as evangelicals think. Maybe the freedom God has clearly granted with His strict non-interference policy extends to women making their own decisions about their bodies. Given that God has granted this freedom and/or allowed situations where pregnancy presents a massive problem, who are we to step in where God chooses not to?

I don’t actually believe any of that dogma, nor do I believe there is a preferential being overseeing our planet, but I do find studying the mindset to be a challenging and engaging mental exercise.

That brings us to COVID-19. The best science available tells us that the best way to avoid contracting this deadly pandemic is to get a free vaccine at your corner drugstore and wear a mask when you’re inside a crowded venue. When President Joe Biden ordered a legal mandate, however, many people were outraged. They said it impeded their individual rights, claimed it violated The Constitution, and have endangered millions of Americans by refusing to take these two simple steps. Meanwhile, the vast majority of these folks have had legally required vaccines against such things as polio, hepatitis, measles and rubella. At the same time, many of them are flocking to take a horse de-wormer (Ivermectin) and even threaten violence against hospitals that refuse to provide it. Why? Because FAUX News host Tucker Carlson, himself vaccinated against COVID and working for a company that mandates it, told people the vaccine would kill them and they should get the horse drug instead.

Want to take a stab at THAT one?

This is why we are where we are as a country. We are really not as different as people would have us believe, but our obsessions and unscientific beliefs keep driving us further and further apart. The fact that what passes for news can be little more than a flavor choice at Baskin-Robbins is a bigger threat to our country than any force China, Russia or today’s favorite Middle Eastern terrorist group represents. We all love ice cream, and finding others who share our favorite flavor can be a bonding experience, but at the end of the day we can’t live on ice cream alone and the more we eat, the less healthy we are likely to become.

Can we put down the scooper before we find ourselves in another civil war?

Only if we start to address the cognitive dissonance within our ranks. It’s a far more dangerous plague than any new strain of COVID-19 could ever hope to be.

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