If you live in the world, you learn early not to trust worldly authority figures. Even if you have even-handed, loving parents, you find that the authorities in schools are unjust, biased, and operate off bad information. In fact, they often don’t want their bad information corrected, especially if it’s coming from a child they’re biased against. That kind of loss of trust can happen before children are out of kindergarten.
By the time children are in middle school, they will begin to notice that the media also operates off of bad information, intentionally spinning stories the way they want them to be perceived. It will probably take a few more years for them to distrust government in general, but it can and should happen. I suppose that’s the purpose of a two-party system, to change the general distrust into distrust solely toward the party one isn’t a member of.
There is something of the Stockholm Syndrome in all or most of us that allows us to align ourselves with our captors, as well. People realize if they shut up and toe the line, do the things asked of them, their lives will be okay. They can go home after their mandatory schooling and watch their favorite show, play their favorite videogame, eat their favorite junk food. That’s not bad in itself, especially if authority figures want the best for their constituents, despite being hypocritical humans. If people live rule- and law-abiding lives, things will go better for them. That’s the reality.
But it’s not always the reality. Our authority figures can go from being unjust and foolish but largely benign to evil in a heartbeat. And when that evil comes, people will be blindsided. They might try to find refuge in their churches, but they won’t find it because their churches are run by worldly authority figures. Jesus warned us of this: hired shepherds run away at the sign of a wolf. Jesus is the only trustworthy shepherd. I want to repeat this. I want to pound it in Christians’ skulls who are demoralized by Christian authorities who have let them down.
Go back and review what happened during Covid. The pastors who stood up and tried to keep their churches open were almost nonexistent. This was true of Protestants and Catholics alike. I view the Covid time as a warning. If your pastors ran away over something that small, be aware that they might not be there for you during harder times.
I have never trusted authority figures, and yet, I’m like most “decent” people: I want to live peaceably as far as is possible. I want to follow a moral code. I even want to follow a code of conduct that prevents chaos. Even though I understand that hirelings are humans and will fail, I recognize that God left us human authorities anyway. From the beginning, he left us church authorities — his apostles — who ran away when Jesus was sacrificed on the cross. They were terrified and concerned for their lives. Later, they were willing to be martyred for the Gospel, but they certainly weren’t so resigned at the beginning. They were probably confused as well as being terrified. They weren’t so much different from the rest of us, in other words.
I want to trust, and I believe it’s right to trust our God-given leaders. I have a hard time doing so, but I find I’ve become complacent over the years. I don’t want to be watchful because it’s exhausting. Besides, look what happened to Alex Jones. He was martyred in a way, his money stolen and reputation destroyed, simply for being watchful, mistrustful, researching and asking questions. Alex Jones was not and is not crazy, as people imply. I’ve never thought so. He’s never called himself a prophet, and I’m sure his theories are sometimes wrong, but his behavior resembles the prophets of old, wild-eyed and appearing deranged to those who don’t want to or can’t believe our authority figures could be so evil, could betray us to such an extent as he puts forth…due to our Stockholm Syndrome.
I don’t want to be watchful, but I would be a fool not to be. I would be a fool not to remember that all the church authorities in my so-called “red” county betrayed their people. The local sheriff was stronger in his willingness to stand up for the people than the church leaders were. I can’t forget this reality. I won’t forget it. I would like to think it was a situation of fear and confusion, and that they will be willing to sacrifice even their lives in the future, just like the apostles and many saints in history. That’s the hope. At the same time, I’d much rather put my hope in the Good Shepherd, whose image I hold in my heart.
This subject has been weighing on me lately, no matter the busy-ness of the past week and the other posts I was supposed to write. Those other posts will come, God willing. St. Augustine pray for me.