Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Modern Day Prophets
When I was 10 years old, my dad realized a life-long dream - he opened a small country store. Our store didn't carry the usual small town necessities such as groceries and hardware it was a little more, well more....
My dad sold used military surplus, guns, ammunition, horse tack and animal feed. He also carried used furniture, sold hunting and fishing licenses and even had a few auto parts (used, of course). Basically, he sold everything a country gentleman could possibly need. When I was about 12, my folks moved up, buying a larger building in a neighboring town and expanding the business. They enlarged the feed section, got in more surplus and even installed a bakery case that was stocked daily with fresh bakery items from a bakery about an hours drive away. Dad built a wood stove and enclosed it with a steel "fence" (that was great for putting your feet on while warming up your toes) and had a few tables and chairs for the locals that spent a large portion of their time drinking coffee, watching CNN (the only news show on cable at that time) and discussing the events of the day.
I grew up listening to these colorful characters talk about the state of our nation. To be sure, each one had an opinion, which was forcefully voiced and more often than not, they didn't think too highly of their neighbors strong opinions. Even as a child I was fascinated with their differing opinions and assessments of our world. However, my innocent childhood formed in me the knowledge that things could never go really bad. I mean, we were a nation formed on biblical principles - with God being for us, who could possibly be against us. Besides, our nation did what was right and right always wins.
But I did hear the whisperings. A couple of the "old farts" would sit in the corner of dad's store and talk about unfathomable scenarios. They would talk about "big brother" watching everything you did, telling you what to eat and how to raise your children. They would discuss the death of liberty and the rise of socialism and, gasp, communism. They would talk about teachers indoctrinating children and parents sitting back and allowing hideous propaganda to be preached directly into the hearts of their children. They would talk while the others snickered. They were dismissed as wackos and marginalized as crazy "tin-foil hat" people. Nobody really took them seriously.
I admit that I too dismissed them as nuts. In my childlike mind, I reasoned that people would NEVER allow socialism or communism to gain a foothold in this great country. People would NEVER stand by while their children were being brainwashed with anti-family, anti-business and anti-patriot propaganda. Americans would NEVER tolerate some government bureaucrat telling them what they could and could not eat and how they would be allowed to discipline their children. NEVER. This was America for heavens sake!
As the years went by, my naivety was slowly replaced by the impregnable realities of the truth. The truth was that the men whom I had scorned in my youth had seen a future that my young eyes had been blinded to. They saw an apathetic, lazy, self-centered population that cared more for their own creature comforts than they did for the good of mankind. They saw an overreaching government that was poised to impose THEIR will on the people rather than being directed BY the people. They weren't "tin-foil" hat crazies, they were modern day prophets!
Now, I am not one to be swayed by the latest conspiracy theories or fall prey to outrageous claims of secret society world domination, but I am much more likely to see boogie men (and women) in classrooms and slithering serpents holding political offices and occupying benches across the nation. Gone is my childlike innocence. I have seen first hand the destructive nature of our government and the ignorance of our people. I have seen greed rewarded and honesty punished. I have seen a nation with its moral compass pointing south.
From time to time, I still enter small country stores where old men in work-worn clothes and dingy hats gather together to solve the problems of the world. I look for the ones in the corners that talk quietly amongst themselves, the scorn of the more rational old farts. I hear their outrageous claims and their far-fetched ideas and I wonder - are they really far-fetched, or are these humble, fervent men the most modern prophets of all....