Society

What might Screwtape say about the “Yoga Pants Protests?”

Wormwood's uncle is so pleased that disoriented Americans have got "we" backwards, and think it's pronounced "ew."

My Dear Wormwood,

Forgive my tardy response to your last flaming missive (or — if you really want to impress me — don’t) in which you attempt to berate me for insufficiently appreciating your efforts at sowing discord within the venue of American Politics. As they say in your circles, “Goon, get over yourself.” Political discord, especially in America, where headlines and soundbite analyses are accepted even when they are false or as penetrating as prop knives, is easy stuff, and I am surprised at how needy was your grasping for applause. By now this should be automatic for you, and you should know that one does not applaud a smoker for striking a match.  Moreover your bratty insistence that I pay you notice seemed to me to border on a cartoonish-hell of calumny, and I have been so busy not reading or answering ersatz calumnies directed my way that I simply haven’t had time to not read or respond to yours.

That said, I am enthusiastically in support of what you are doing with the yoga-pants wearers of America and the brouhaha you got going after some unsuspecting letter-writer got “woke” (as they say in hideous current vernacular) to the fact that America, despite what she is wearing, is no longer psychologically fit enough to function within the wise and powerful habit of self-effacing humor that signifies a healthy and humble viewpoint. The fellow was quickly subjected to the full fury of defensiveness that has become the American’s favorite pastime. That so many are so willing to so quickly embrace victimhood wherever they can find it, and wield that victimhood as a cudgel in the quest for some small, illusory sense of power, demonstrates two ways in which you have authentically — and rather spectacularly, in fact — earned my praise:

1) You have successfully and fully perverted the lesson of that troublesome bald-headed tentmaker, who wrote, “when I am weak, then I am strong.” The endless mewling of yankee-doodle mediocrities seeking validation of their every dandy thought and action not only keeps everyone perpetually self-focused and utterly distracted from true issues (remind me to check in with your Auntie Tawdry about the latest stores of chemical and nuclear weapons and which madman has the most, would you?) it also keeps them from looking at the cruci…the cruci…that blasted piece of wood upon which the Reality of “strength” through “weakness” gives its blatant testimony and so often confounds us. Well done, there, indeed.

2) In prompting this latest in the endless rounds of American umbrage-taking, you are successfully keeping people from seeing each other as anything but ew. I do not mean ewe, as in the baa-lamb of the shepherd’s concerns but ew — the backwards disorientation of the word “we” that translates into “ew, them.” When they have to run off to a yoga-pants protest or a college sit-in to insure that only the right sorts of people are permitted within the right spaces, (that entry subject to how fervently are expressed the right sorts of ideas and only such ideas), there is no time for filthy altruism. A people kept comfortable enough (and distracted enough) to prattle away at protests, parades, and the punctilious parsing of picayune ideas are a people who believe themselves too busy (and perhaps too important) to volunteer as visitors to long-term care patients in hospital; they are too tied up to take granny to the mall for a little companionship and an insipid frozen yogurt. People whose feelings demand public validation, or public demands for same, haven’t really got time to connect with the desperately lonely teenager who is discovering opiates, or with the immigrant neighbor working in a community garden; they are kept too busy to notice the formerly outgoing child who has turned silent and inward because of the physical or mental abuses she is being subjected to.

This is stellar work, and on the surface it looks so banal, which is doubly effective.

Again, I say, well done, nephew. Keep these Americans glued to their social media feeds, searching for the next outrageous outrage that can keep them distracted, self-medicated and convinced they are the true purveyors of meaning in a foolishly backward world. When it all becomes a bit more difficult for them — as prosperity flees and the old reliable and trustworthy institutions of governance and information crumble through corruption, complacency and ego — and the churches are prevented from reaching out to help, it will be delightful to settle in and watch.

I might even invite you and Auntie Tawdry over for a bit of punch and popcorn for the show.

Your pleased uncle,
Screwtape