If you’re like me, I listen to talk radio whenever I can. My wife and I just came back from a five-day trip to the coast of Georgia. We have a three-month trial of Sirius Satellite radio in our car. We listened to hours of people calling into shows on numerous political topics. I want to say that a lot of people are stupid, but it’s not true. There are a lot of intelligent people who are ignorant. They haven’t studied an issue in depth.
A good number of them have been brainwashed by academic gobbledygook similar to a scene in Back to School starring Rodney Dangerfield. Dangerfield’s character is sitting in a business class where the professor is setting up a fictional company that makes widgets. Dangerfield, a prosperous businessman, asks, “What’s a Widget?” The exchange between Dangerfield and the professor is priceless. You can read it here (start with “There are two kinds of people in business today…”) and see it here. Notice the response of the students. Being book-smart does not make a person wise.
Then there’s the self-interest group. Smart people know enough that a policy might affect them personally, so they vote, not out of principle, but out of how they can benefit from a program even if that program is unconstitutional. We often wonder why millionaires vote for liberals. They know that liberal policies throw money at certain sectors of the economy. They want a piece of the action.
Then there are the Ostriches with their heads in the sand. They want to know why we’re “attacking the president.” They whine that we should “give him a chance.” These people, who are generally conservative, believe a problem will go away if we don’t make trouble. “Can’t we all get along,” they ask. “If we’re nice to people,” they reason, “they’ll be nice to us.” These people have no cultural awareness. They live in a fantasy land of their own making where they can’t make distinctions.
Their way of thinking is illustrated by an old Chinese proverb that goes like this: “If you want to know what water is, don’t ask a fish.” Never having experienced another environment, a fish lacks the ability to see differences in his environment; it has no knowledge of an alternative world; the fish’s only reference point is water and what swims with him.
It’s possible that some people are too close to our culture to make the necessary distinctions to bring about changes. “Culture is like the air with breathe,” Charles Sherlock, author of The Doctrine of Humanity, argues. “Unless we are ill or are making a deliberate attempt to concentrate on it, breathing is something we take for granted. So it is with culture; unless we deliberately focus upon it, or move to live in another culture, we are largely unaware that we are ‘cultured.’”
Cornelius Van Til had two apt illustrations to explain the difficulty to see how we have become part of a corrupting culture. He said that it was like a man made of water who tries to climb out of a pit of water using a ladder constructed of water. He used a similar illustration to make the same point. It’s like a man with yellow glasses cemented to his face — “all is yellow to the jaundiced eye.”
Abraham Kuyper (1837–1920), theologian, statesman, journalist, and Prime Minister of the Netherlands (1901–1905), directs Christians to stand against the pull of the modern culture to make us a willing partner to its attractive lure: “When principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, that battle is your calling, and peace has become sin. You must at the price of dearest peace lay your conviction bare before friend and enemy, with all the fire of your faith.”