"The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity."
William Butler Yeats, "The Second Coming"
But if Yeats is right about the state of things, writing in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, where do we in this new century gain hope? Politically, I would nail a sign over Tea Party headquarters: "... the worst are full of passionate intensity." Hope is not found in their efforts to control society through their self-serving goals.
This group of politically-focused individuals are passionately working to undermine the foundations of our government and our society. But they do so believing they are building a new and better society and country. I see instead the beginnings of that country described in fearful detail by Margaret Atwood in The Handmaid's Tale. May I be wrong in that perception!
As the narrator in that novel describes herself and others like her, I wonder if they are not like Yeats' description of the best among us, those who "lack all conviction." We who carry our convictions quietly, afraid to be heard when the vitriol begins against all responsible leaders in our legislatures and executive offices, and merely watch from the background, wringing our hands. Atwood's narrator comments: "We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom." And so we fail to speak as passionately as those who seek our destruction by their ignorance and inexperience. "Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world," Yeats affirms from that past world so like what is developing in our time, not only here but around the world.
I just finished the third in a trilogy by Philip Harris and Brian Doe, Waking God: The Second Coming of Humanity. In this futuristic clash of the supernatural and real worlds, things have come to such a pass that it is time to start over again and create anew what defines life. I don't believe that time has arrived yet, but it does stand near the threshold of our future.
There is still time to find the necessary courage and energy to take our nation back, our lives back, our belief in the possibility of good government back. We who continue to maintain our faith in humanity, who acknowledge an all-powerful Creator, are called to discard our timid behavior and be heard in the marketplace, in the halls of Congress, in the schools and institutions before they fail completely.
We can continue to live "in the blank white spaces at the edges of print," or we can rise up, speak out, and demonstrate and remind others what makes for a good society. If we cannot do that, if we see the rowdiness of bad political manners and let that become the norm, then our question will be:
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?