I’ve got the feeling that something ain’t right… Clowns to the left of me! Jokers to the right!
~ Gerry Rafferty, “Stuck in the Middle”
Twenty years ago today the world changed, and not for the better. All hell broke loose that sunny and blue Tuesday morning and nothing’s been the same since. Whatever level of trust we’d built with the rest of the world after the fall of the wall in ’89 simply fell away. Sure, there've been moments since then, even seasons, when things were looking up, but in fact all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put the world back together again. The damage was done, and what happened to the towers happened to the world. Windows on the world, indeed.
The trauma of that morning somehow has managed to find its way into all the cracks and crevices of contemporary culture in the same way that ash could still be stirred up from any yard in Spokane, Washington 20 years after Mt. St. Helens erupted. Some things are just like that. They have a way of hanging around and never leaving, all the while getting inside us like invisible silica to wreak their toxic mayhem on our lungs and souls. And the immediate aftermath of such events is usually just the tip of the iceberg. That much sorrow can’t be contained in a single event, not even a single year, not even a single life. Lifetimes come and go and the dust is still stirred up. Some things are just that way.
And now we’ve have the double trauma of the Capitol insurrection and COVID, both of which changed the world forever again in ways we won’t recover from 20 years from now, when I’m an old man. We’re left with are clowns to the left of us and jokers to the right, the sort of people who profit from trauma, who revel in it, who thrive in chaos, like the Joker in the The Joker. And they do it because they’re ugly and broken ~ ugly and broken to the core, and sin abhors a vacuum and so will find any nook and cranny to lodge itself in, and then, like a parasite feeding off its host, will eat away at you so slowly you won’t know you’re dead til you’re practically skin & bones.
It started with security checks at the airport and no lotions or liquids more than 6 oz. in your luggage. It’s become a circus of gun-toting racists, conspiracy addicts, and eugenics madmen on the Left and Right both claiming “My body, my choice,” which always leads to some form of death in the end for the simple reason that such a saying fails to recognize ~ or actively repudiates ~ the indissoluble connection we all share on this fragile planet we call home. When such things are said, they usually either mean “I have the freedom to end the life of something(-one) else” or “I have the freedom to end myself.” In either case, more than one person always dies. In the end, the world dies from such short-sighted lies.
Today while I built my house, I heard gunshots all around me, ringing over the valley and through the trees in some apparently juvenile attempt to commemorate 9/11. Strange way to do it, but predictable all the same. The deer, I’m sure, were spooked. None of the usual dogs barked. The cocks didn’t crow and the hawks weren’t flying. They knew that something wasn’t right, while I stood there, hammer in hand, wondering about all the ways the world runs wild. Where do you even start, right? Or maybe God has just grown tired:
Therefore God gave them over to the desires of their hearts to impurity,
to dishonor their bodies among themselves.
~ Romans 1:24
Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, indeed.