From my Christmas Letter — 2017; your piece
today (The Fog We Are Living In of 4/2/18) reminded me of this:
À propos of nothing at all, one of the ways in which we cope with reality is to adopt the role of a victim and project blame on others. A good example is the recent massacre at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. President Donald Trump blamed mental health issues with some justification: Devin Kelley, the shooter, did spend some time in a psychiatric hospital. (Mr. Trump seemed to have forgotten that the first significant legislation he signed into law reversed the Obama-era policy of prohibiting mentally ill persons from buying guns.)
Others blamed the shortage of available guns, the theory being that if only more people had guns, those who were praying at First Baptist on that Sunday could have fired back, killing Devin Kelley, and then presumably resumed their prayers. As long as we have someone or something “out there” to blame, we absolve ourselves of any responsibility.
In 476 C.E. Romulus, the last of the Roman emperors in the West, was overthrown by the Germanic leader Odoacer, who became the first Barbarian to rule in Rome. The societal order that Rome had brought to western Europe for 1000 years was no more. Much has been written about why this happened; I am convinced that it was a gradual process which spanned centuries, each decade contributing a little something towards making this future disaster happen.
I wonder if we are now in the midst of just such a slow moving deterioration. I find myself thinking now and again, “So, this is what is like to be in the middle of an empire which is slowly collapsing.” I alone cannot change that process, and I do my best not to blame others. I recommit myself to the small things I can do, such as recycle as much as possible, support charitable endeavors, minister to those who are hurting, write letters to the Editor, and say my prayers on Sunday mornings (these days at nearby St. Paul’s, Trappe) with no gun under my vestments.