When I was in law school (1979-1982), one of the weekly magazines I subscribed to was TIME magazine. Back then, there was no internet, satellite television, or national talk radio programs. If we wanted to know what was going on in our country, we had to rely on newspapers, magazines, network television — ABC, NBC, and CBS.
The recent riots have exposed a reality that those of us who are devout Catholics have always known to be true. What is that reality? That there is an epic battle that has been taking place since the beginning of time. While the battle has involved different types of weapons and different forms of communication, the participants in the battle have always had one thing in common — they have always been separated into two opposing camps.
I was fortunate enough to grow up in the early years of television. As a young boy, I watched westerns and wholesome family shows that always depicted clean, positive, and virtuous behavior. Some of the family shows that I watched were The Andy Griffith Show, My Three Sons, Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C., The Dick Van Dyke Show, and Mister Ed.
There’s an emotional roller coaster that people have been on since March of this year. That’s when our country was locked down because of the COVID-19 virus. During the first couple of months of the lockdown, the roller coaster took people down into the depths of uncertainty and doubt. Then it seemed as though it was heading toward what appeared to be a light at the end of a tunnel. But last week, the roller coaster took a sharp turn and catapulted toward a new abyss of fear and uncertainty.
I’ve written before about how my wife and I raised seven children — one boy and six girls. An interesting thing happened with some of my children. When they turned 18, they got tired of me telling them what I thought they should be doing and declared that because they were 18, they were now adults who could make their own decisions. The first time I heard that proclamation, I laughed and asked what happened on their 18th birthday that transformed them into the type of person who no longer needed to listen to their parents. The response I got was, “I’m an adult now and I’m old enough to make my own decisions.”
The foundation upon which the United States of America was built consisted of two religions: a secular religion that was based on the beliefs and principles of individualism, self-reliance, freedom, hard work, patriotism, and independence, and a biblical religion that was based on the beliefs and principles of the 10 Commandments, the God of the Old Testament, and the teachings of the Son of God.
There are several ugly truths about life that most of us ignore. I want to cover two of those ugly truths today. The first is that the path through life is fraught with uncertainty. The second is that by the time we’re mature adults, we have had experience with the first truth, but most of the time, we tuck it away into a deep dark corner of our minds. Then we go on with our lives behaving as though the first truth does not exist.
When I was growing up during the 1960s and 1970s, there was one TV in my parents’ home, and there were only three television stations to choose from. The stations were affiliated with the three national networks — ABC, NBC, and CBS. The programming for each of the stations ran from 6:00 AM in the morning until 1:00 AM the following morning. After the last TV program ended at 1:00 AM, there was usually an instrumental patriotic song that was played and then the images on the station were replaced with several thick, horizontal, colored lines that appeared while an annoying audio tone played in the background.
I recently listened to an interview of a business consultant who said that he blames Thomas Jefferson for many of the problems in the United States, because Jefferson was the one who came up with the phrase in the Declaration of Independence that we have the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The consultant said that he had no problem with the life and liberty part of the phrase, but that Jefferson’s use of the words “pursuit of happiness” was a mistake.