The People Will Have to Lead

36 million Americans unemployed!! Put out of work by the government!!! All now dependent upon government largesse. What government will do and not do for them is the thread they are hanging by. Catastrophic.

Authorities are changing their minds everyday on what hoops they want Americans to jump through. Tomorrow it will be different still. How many phases are there anyway? And what phase are we in? Do we wear masks on beaches? And what is loitering on a beach anyway?

This is now our government. Actually, their masks are off. The emperors are naked. Nothing behind the titles. People are getting it. Nobody knows anything, as Alan Jacobs of Baylor keeps repeating. Posing, that’s what’s going on. Now the people will have to lead. The wisdom they carry will emerge, rolling over the sham experts and the titled and the unentitled.

Reading about Leonard Cohen in 2020

I’m reading “I’m Your Man: A Life of Leonard Cohen,” by Sylvie Simmons, published 2012. Cohen’s first album came out my freshman year at Old Dominion University, 1967. I remember many a discussion about it. He wasn’t exactly folk but certainly not rock. He fell in between and never was a chart topper in America like he became in Europe and the UK.

In philosophy classes we try to track ways that philosophy leaks into our culture, music being one of the more dominant paths. Cohen songs are a must for listening. I also play Cohen songs for the World Religions class, particularly for the Buddhism module, since he was a Buddhist priest. He also comes up in the module on Judaism as a Jew shaped by Old Testament narrative and a Christ-haunted man. In Hinduism Cohen’s views are explored when it comes to sexuality and “higher consciousness.” One option, of course, is to just call Cohen a dirty old man and move on, as plenty of people do.

He didn’t start singing until he was 30 and by that time was an accomplished poet with several collections published and also novels. All of Cohen’s music serves the words he composed and put so much effort into constructing. Cohen is not a hero, but there is some courage and willingness to say things everyone knows to be true but no one dares to say.

When I read him I go back to the sixties and the cultural shift the West was experiencing. If I could ever choose a time to go to college, it would be the time I was in college. There was a massive conversation going on just 20 years on the other side of WWII. Where we are today is part of the flow that had its source in those times. My entire life has been this conversation we are now having. It is clear that we are not returning to what we were.

Conservatism doesn’t demand that do, though it does ask of us to discover the headwaters that shaped our civilization and what needs to be guarded even as our narrative takes twists and turns. Sometimes I am optimistic, at other times “whatever,” and then in some moments ready to close my front door and enjoy the small world I inhabit. But my sons can’t do that like an old man can. They face a future that signals some danger and the call to not let it go to the dark side. Marking time is not really an option for them.