Have you ever looked at a population density map like the one above? If you haven’t, I’ll briefly explain that the darker the shade of red, the greater the number of people packed into the represented geographical area. Where we live? Dark red.
Because of the very nature of life in densely populated areas, I have to remind myself to be thankful for the blessings that we receive living here rather than hyper focusing on all the things I dislike about it. For example, several years ago we began a tradition of sorts. When we take our bi-yearly vacation, we almost always choose a place where the population is light and natural beauty abounds, particularly mountains.
After regular visits to such places, it is all too easy for me to find myself utterly disenchanted with the parks in our metropolitan area, even the ones with “lots” of green space and a generous amount of land set aside as protected habitat preservation areas. I got to where I would almost cringe every time I walked near my home and passed one of these signs:
Today however, I decided to stop for a minute and just take a good long gander at that butterfly you see there. I watched as it flitted from one wildflower to the next. It’s not sentient but it somehow seemed to know exactly where it was going, what it needed to do, and how to do it. It was after all, a butterfly.
This morning before dawn I was out for a walk with our oldest daughter and as we passed a medium sized retention pond in our area, we noticed 3 deer- one a doe- on the other side. We were so quiet they didn’t take off running at the first sound of we humans approaching, so we watched. Anyone who has lived in Florida any length of time knows that if you see a body of water more than six feet wide or three feet deep, you should assume there’s a gator in it.
Suddenly we heard a loud splash from inside the pond, and saw the deer bolt off into the woods. We were fascinated but equal parts apprehensive, so quickly stepped our pace and moseyed on past the pond. As we did so however, I was struck by those deer and their instinctual understanding that they needed to flee from that which would do them harm. Their sense of self reservation and protectiveness of their young kicked into high gear.
It was within this context that I was reminded of a piece I recently read which was written by the ever articulate Anthony Esolen. It’s a long article, but the gist of it is that we in the West are at war with reality. This is true on numerous fronts, but in particular he references our persistent and relentless attempt to blur the lines between the sexes, to gender bend if you will, until everyone is forced to pretend that the two separate and distinct sexes do not exist:
Now, sex is the first thing we notice about someone, and the last thing we forget. It’s easy to see why this should be so. It cannot possibly be to any living thing’s advantage to be confused about male and female. As it is, sex is far more strongly marked upon the human body than it is upon the bodies of dogs or cats or horses or many of the species of birds. A man’s face is not like a woman’s face. A woman’s voice is not like a man’s voice, even when the woman is Greer Garson and the man is Frankie Valli. A man’s shoulders do not look like a woman’s shoulders, and a woman’s hips do not look like a man’s hips. Men and women differ down to their very hair, as anyone can perceive who looks at a woman’s smooth chin or a man’s bald pate.
To pretend, therefore, that we do not know what we immediately and urgently perceive is to do violence at once to human nature, language, the possibility of a shared life, and the intellect’s capacity to apprehend reality. If I cannot say, “There is a man walking down the street,” then it is hard to see how I can make any reliable judgment about anything at all that bears on human existence. If I cannot say, “Joey is going to grow up to be a fine man someday,” then what in life is left to talk about? Everything else is less certain than sex. We may disagree about whether President Eisenhower was a good leader of men, a loyal husband and father, or a pious Christian; but if we cannot agree that President Eisenhower was a man, then speech itself is but sound and fury, signifying nothing. Or, rather, speech collapses into action, and reason lies prone before appetite. Speech delivers the bribes and threats of people who want what they want and do not care overmuch how they get it.
This insistence of denying reality signifies a profound lack of concern for the legacy we leave our children. It doesn’t even show the level of self-preservation required for a butterfly to pollinate flowers or deer to flee from a potential predator. No, we -by this I mean Western culture- indeed are the predators, destroying our children’s futures, warring against their innate sense of justice and beauty that Our Creator marks them with from birth so that they will be able to find Him when they seek Him. All in the name of…what exactly? I am reminded of the words of a pastor from the old Baptist church I attended as a child:
“We’ve become so open minded our brains done fell out!”
H/T: Two-Cent Woman for the Anthony Esolen article.