One week ago today, 71 million fellow Americans voted to affirm and continue the trumpian vision of reality that has reigned during the past four years. Today, a full week later, 7 in 10 Republicans are being convinced that the election results—an election they lost—was fraudulent. As hopeful as I am that a new administration can do a great deal to repair the harm done to our nation, I continue to struggle with the fact that starkly oppositional worldviews continue to create chaos and division among us. I keep trying to understand.
Some of you may recognize that part of my title comes from one of the delightful Narnia stories by C. S. Lewis: The Last Battle. In this tale, Narnia faces its final days before Aslan, the Great Lion, calls an end to Time itself.
King Tirian of Narnia battles against overpowering forces of evil near an old stable. Anyone who goes through the stable door disappears in a flash of terrible light
But we, the readers, get to go beyond the door and we realize the stable door is actually a gateway into paradise. Many of our long time friends from Narnia are met there in happy reunion as Aslan invites them to keep going “further up and further in.”
Back at the stable door, however, sits a miserable huddle of Dwarfs who can’t (or won’t) see the heavenly landscape; they only know the dank misery of a dark, cramped stall. Our good-hearted Narnian friends pity their blindness and try to help them see the beautiful reality that stretches endlessly all around them.
Aslan raised his head and shook his mane. Instantly a glorious feast appeared on the Dwarfs’ knees . . . and each Dwarf had a goblet of good wine in his right hand. They began eating and drinking greedily enough, but it was clear that they couldn’t taste it properly. They thought they were eating and drinking only the sort of things you might find in a Stable . . . hay or an old turnip or a raw cabbage leaf.
“Well, at any rate there’s no Humbug (fake news!) here. We haven’t let anyone take us in. The Dwarfs are for the Dwarfs.”
“You see,” said Aslan. “They will not let us help them . . . Their prison is only in their own minds, yet they are in that prison; and so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out.”
Many of us have been having this conversation for some years now: pondering how hype becomes spin, then spin evolves into mis-information which devolves into dis-information. Bald lies uttered even from the highest office in our land weave webs of deceit that ensnare too many of our fellow Americans.
Like my Narnian friends, I pity the blindness and would like to help them see the beautiful possibilities for our shared future. I feel sad and helpless.
I find some little bit of comfort in the fact that, evidently, C. S. Lewis (and probably every wise truth seeker) has seen this same human reality. We are not alone in our dilemma. And yet how disheartening to know this sad reality keeps cycling and recycling throughout our human history.
Still I find a good bit of comfort in the fact that 75 million of us envision a brighter, broader world. I am encouraged by the courage and commitment of so many sisters and brothers who went to not a little trouble to vote and express this more hopeful vision for our future.
I know the people who voted to maintain the status quo are sad and disappointed today. (I know very well how that feels!) But I think most of them will accept the reality of the math and move on. Some of those people, however, are proving to be like Dwarfs in a Stable—refusing to see; continuing to reject what is real. Lashing out in anger and animosity.
I pity them and I grieve their self-inflicted prison but I know there is nothing I can do about it. Even Aslan couldn’t change the Dwarfs.
“They are so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out.”
I have struggled with this dilemma, and I’m not near finished. But this little story from Narnia has given me some clarity, some insight into the darkness that can take hold of people and some discernment about what my own attitudes and actions should be.
What I can do is live in the light as best I understand it; I can respond with compassion while standing firmly for “truth, justice and the American way.” I can resist dehumanizing those who are being deceived, but always rise to defend the humanity of those who would be threatened by any sort of inhumanity. I will avoid ridiculing people, but still laugh in the face of ridiculous falsehoods; I will keep countering lies with truth.
And I will keep the door open. My prayer has long been—especially for my own loved ones—that Spirit will lead them (lead us all) into greater truth and light. My other prayer for myself is that my heart will stay open to reconciliation; that my heart will be both soft and strong.
C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1956) 138-140.
PLEASE NOTE: All parables, such as these by Mr. Lewis, have both limited meaning and multiple meanings. In this blog, I am attempting to speak to broad worldviews, not partisan politics. I try to paint a picture of a wide, diverse, inclusive human landscape (which I see as beautiful) versus a smaller, more exclusive worldview. I am not representing any one political party as any sort of perfect “paradise.”
Mr. Lewis was wounded in battle in 1918. I often wonder how his frontline military experience with war and violence affected his understanding of humanity at its best and at its worst. I think his insights were quite brilliant. His 30+ books have sold over 100 million copies. Here’s the C. S. Lewis official website.
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