Friday, October 20, 2017

two wildernesses, same wilderness

I sat in on an American Lit class today, and came to a realization. Here in our country's twenty-third decade, there seem to be two trains of thought about where we've come from and where we're going.

One train of thought says the land we've left is Eden. We're in the wilderness, and must go back.

The other says the land we've left is Egypt. We're in the wilderness, and must go forward.

Make America great for once? Make it great again? Most of our rhetoric, posturing, and genuine disagreement can be traced back to this vital difference in view.

Our dialogue, then, if it could ever get so plain, would look like this:
"Your promised land looks like it's going to be my hell."
"Your Eden *was* my hell."

The thing is, these two views catch on for a reason. They're deeply implanted. We have a very real memory of a Lost Eden, and a very real anticipation of a New Jerusalem.

So each of these narratives resonates chimingly with something central to our cosmic story. But we distort when we try to apply the narratives to our human nations, so fallible and so momentary.

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