Remember those "4 Horseman of the Apocalypse" (Rev 6:1—8) we’ve heard so much about for-ever? Well, they’ve been re-placed. Why? I dunno. Maybe it was a PR move. "Famine," "Plague," "Pestilence," "Death"….what downers! And anyway, since John’s Technicolor vision thing, we’ve gotten Mickey D’s, Penicillin, Handi-Wipes and cryogenics. Problem solved. A "Divine Revelation" reduced to an "Irrelevant Revelation." Move along…there are no 7 Headed, 10 Horn Beasts to be seen here….
This is not to say we still aren’t in exceedingly deep fertilizer ("re-placed" is not synonymous with "eliminated"). But instead of all that messy "Horse and Plague" stuff, the death of the Republic is dead ahead. Rather than galloping in on horseback, interrupting our "American Eye-Dull" re-runs, the Four Bad Dudes are proceeding apace with the same prophesied inevitability — just a tad more insidious. Instead of horses snorting smoke and fire, they arrive "on little cat’s feet." Unlike Sandburg’s "fog," they’re not just checking out the neighborhood and then "moving on"; they have every intention of devastation at epidemic proportions.
To borrow a phrase from Butch Cassidy, "Who are those guys?"
They are the 21st Century’s version of God’s "Backfield in Motion" — although your moderately humble Scribbler suggests God had nothing to do with the creation of these pariahs — but rather the Mad Scientists back in the Free Will Society lab segregated in their cultural Petri dish these new plagues now bringing The End inexorably closer.
Care to meet them? Of course you do!
First, Contagious Apathy. No doubt you’ve met before — possibly introduced as "Sloth," Number 4 on the "Deadly Sins" Least Wanted List. CA works at a leisurely pace, "below the radar." His hero: Alfred E. Neuman of "What, Me worry?" fame. Symptoms include but are not limited to: Concern for vitally important matters and the actions needed to address them are just not worth the time and hassle. From stifling bureaucracies to non-responsive elected officials, from "don’t get involved" to "you can’t fight city hall"; from the blind eye-witnesses at the knifing of Kitty Genovese to the national silence at the government slaughter of the Branch Davidians, the scales of judgment. Lethargy spreads like The Plague as "Be Prepared" morphs into "Who Cares?" Who changed "Don’t tread on me" to "Don’t bother me"? Contagious Apathy
Aggressive Ignorance is a "CA" enabler. Rarely are the two not seen occupying one host. Not surprisingly, Government Training Camps (aka: Public School) have been the breeding grounds for this virus and remain the central distribution point today. After years of daily exposure (see also "compulsory attendance laws"), there is now a near total national epidemic carried by generations of Functional Illiterates. "Self- Esteem," once thought to be a potential cure, was administered with such a heavy hand, it was discovered too late to be an accelerant to a deeper, nearly incurable infection. When combined with Contagious Apathy, Aggressive Ignorance produces the toxic attitude of "I don’t know and I don’t care." Usually, there is a sudden breakout of Baseless Opinions. There is strong resistance to the only known antidote: Accurate Knowledge.
Dredged up from infancy on the coattails of Aggressive Ignorance is the self-centered addiction to Instant Gratification. Long the province of hungry babies and fits of impatience (Ex: "I WANT MY MAYPO!"), the anticipation and satisfaction of Instant Gratification now infects us all to some degree. For those who remember the 20 minutes it once took to produce a baked potato, may now successfully command the 4 Minute Micro-Waved Spud. From Instant-On TV (complete with Butt-Spreading Remote Control) to the tantalizing satisfaction of Instant Beemer Ownership Through Carjacking ("Save for it? This gun sez I can have it now!"), sadly, IG renders lessons from history helpless, hopeless and mute. Lacking an appropriate and satisfying "fix" of Instant Gratification sends the addict into fits of anger, frustration and pouting, resulting in a serious infection of AG or CA (see above).
The White Coats in the lab had to invent a word for Number 4: techno-narcissism. Like Samuel Francis’ brilliant "anarcho-tyranny," it is born of two mildly unattractive epistemological parents: "technology" which has a history of taking us out of our comfort zone and the ugly side of narcissism. Think: YouTube, Facebook and Myspace; see also Texting and Twitter. The "Me" Generation has been dumbed down to the All About Me generation but without the pesky age restrictions. Just about EVERYbody has a Facebook page — don’t you? Of course you do! The whole WORLD is just hesitating on its axis to discover "What are you doing right now?" I have one! It’s so fun — in a black-hole-of-wasted-time sorta way. Everyone who has a Friend — or can spell Friend — wants to be my Friend so we can share worthless, pointless nothing-ness with each other and show off all our Friends, like so many merit badges! E-Mail is so Last Week! I’m not on "ET" or in "People" magazine (yet) — but I’m on Facebook and I can be seen and I can be a Star and everyone will know, hear and see about MEEEE! Thanks to OD’ing on Self-Esteem, no one is more important than ME, right over here at the center of the universe!
Unfortunately, there is a down-side to TN. With a possible connection to AI (above), it comes with an unhealthy dose of existential nihilism, the philosophy that dictates "Nothing existed before me and, therefore, only those events experienced within my own existence have any meaning. And only I can supply that meaning." This might explain the actions of the Obama Administration, hell-bent on repeating the pluperfect economic boners of Keynesian ideas despite their history of absolute and destructive failure. Then again, current research suggests it may just be the standard aberration of Political Hubris brought on by an overwhelming majority in Congress, fawning media and standing ovations.
More tragically, our intrepid researchers have learned — like "Love and Marriage" — "…ya can’t have one without the other." Yes, Aggressive Ignorance alone may be cured with regular does of Accurate Knowledge except when Contagious Apathy is present. Similarly, Instant Gratification is the gateway to Techno-Narcissism.
These new "4 Horseman" are relentlessly spreading their galloping epidemic across the country, building walls to awareness and understanding only Pink Floyd could love. As you go through your day, watch out for the early warning signs of infection in those around you: lethargy, baseless opinions, boundless ego, eBay, iPods, "text neck," ferocious giggling.
Remember, in both prophecy and plague, the pathogen isn’t as frightening as the pandemic.
Brian Wilson [send him mail], nationally ignored talk show host and occasional LRC un-indicted co-contributor, is currently annoying miniscule audiences in a number of markets from his technically challenged studios safely outside the dictatorship of Toledo. Brian may be endured from 3p—6p at www.wspd.com.