Remember the “4 Horseman of the Apocalypse”? Well, they’ve been re-placed. Why? I dunno. Maybe it was a PR move. “Famine”, “Plague”, “Pestilence”, “Death” were such downers! And anyway, since John’s Technicolor Revelation, we’ve gotten Mickey D’s, penicillin, Handi-Wipes and the Internet. Problem solved. Move along…there are no 7 Headed, 10 Horn Beasts to be seen here.
Which is not to say we still aren’t in deep fertilizer. “Re-placed” is not synonymous with “eliminated”. But instead of all that messy “Horse and Plague” stuff, the death of the Republic still appears to be dead ahead. But rather than galloping in on horseback, interrupting our “Yellowstone” re-runs, the Four Bad Dudes are proceeding apace with the same prophesied inevitability but just a tad more insidious. Instead of horses snorting smoke and fire, they arrive “on little cat’s feet.” But unlike Sandburg’s “fog”, they’re not just checking things out and “moving on”. They have every intention of devastation at epidemic proportions..
Borrowing a line from Butch Cassidy, “Who are those guys?”
They are the 21st Century’s version of God’s “Backfield in Motion” – although your humble Scribbler suggests God had nothing to do with the creation of these pariahs, but rather the Mad Scientists back in the Laboratory of Evil Intent, segregated in their cultural pietre dishes, these new plagues now bringing The End inexorably closer.
Care to meet them? Of course you do!
First, Aggressive Ignorance – Unsurprisingly, Public Education (aka: Government Training Camps) has been the breeding ground for this virus for over 100 years and remains the central distribution point to this day. After years of daily exposure, thanks to “compulsory attendance laws”, there is now a 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 actually be an accelerent to a deeper and nearly incurable infection. When combined with natural apathy, Aggressive Ignorance produces the toxic attitude of “I don’t know and I don’t care”. This creates an insurmountable resistance to the old antidote of Accurate Knowledge.
Next comes Contagious Apathy. Aggressive Ignorance is a “Contagious Apathy” enabler. Rarely are the two not seen occupying one host. No doubt you’ve heard of CA before – introduced as “Sloth”, Number 4 on the “7 Deadly Sins” Least Wanted List. Contagious Apathy works at a leisurely pace, “below the radar”. Its hero: Alfred E. Neuman of “What? Me worry?” fame. 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 to the bludgeoning of innocent bystanders, from the national silence at the government slaughter of the Branch Davidians to the government's sex-trafficking in children, the scales of judgment have been rigged. Citizen 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 did.
Dredged up from infancy on the coattails of Contagious Apathy is the self-centered addiction named Instant Gratification. Long the province of babies screaming temper fits of impatience, the anticipation and satisfaction of Instant Gratification now infects us all. For those who remember the 20 minutes it took to produce a baked potato, now look forward to the 4 Minute Micro-Waved Spud; from Instant-On TV (complete with Butt-Spreading Remote Control) to the tantalizing satisfaction of Immediate BMW Ownership Through Carjacking , Instant Gratification is the infection of 'I Want What I Want, When I Want It'. Sadly, this renders lessons from history helpless, hopeless and mute, resulting in more virulent cases of Aggressive Ignorance and Contagious Apathy.
The White Coats in the lab had to invent a word for the new Horseman, Number 4: It's Techno-Narcissism. Like the late Samuel Francis’ famous “anarcho-tyranny”, it is born of two epistemological parents. “Technology” which has a history of taking us out of our Comfort Zone and the ugly side of narcissism. Think 'You Tube', 'Facebook', Selfies, 'Tic-Tok' and Twitter. The “Me” Generation has been dumbed down to the All About Me generation without those pesky age restrictions. Just about everyone has a FaceBook page – don’t you? Of course you do. The whole world is just hesitating on its axis to discover “What you are eating right now?” It’s so fun - in a Black Hole of Irrelevance sorta way. “Everyone who has a Friend - or can almost spell 'Friend' – wants to be my Friend so we can share worthless, pointless nothing-ness with each other and the rest of our 'Friends' we collect like so many merit badges. E-Mail is so last decade! You’ll never get on radio or 'Dances With Stars' or in “People” magazine, but you can be on FaceBook or Tic-Tok and be seen and 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!”
Sadly, there is a nasty down-side to Techno-Narcissism. With a connection to Aggressive Cognizance, it comes with a healthy 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 recent actions of the Biden Administration which is hell-bent on repeating the stultifying economic stupidity of the 1930’s Keynesian ideas despite their history of absolute and destructive failure. Then again, it might just be the usual bad case of Political Hubris brought on by a slim majority in the Senate. But hey! Anything’s possible when you don’t know what you’re talking about, right?
More tragically, our intrepid researchers have learned – like the tune “Love and Marriage” – “ya can’t have one without the other”. Yes, Aggressive Ignorance alone can be cured with big doses of Accurate Knowledge - except when Contagious Apathy is present; Instant Gratification is often the gateway to Techno-Narcissism.
These new “4 Horseman” are relentlessly spreading their galloping epidemic across the country, building walls to understanding only Pink Floyd could love. As you go through your day, watch for the early warning signs of infection in those around you: lethargy, baseless opinions, boundless ego, Facebook, iPhones, “text neck” and ferocious giggling.
Remember: The pathogen isn’t as important as the pandemic.
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