I had another word on tap for today. It was a strange one, but my mood has shifted from zaniness to something else. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it’s not zaniness.
In our house we’ve talked a lot about impending doom. Culturally, politically, and economically, our country cannot seem to make it to what I refer to as “peak absurdity”; namely, that moment when things cannot get any crazier and people begin to revolt against the madness and begin the work of bringing sanity back to our society.
It just isn’t happening, and more than that, no small percentage of Americans seem to be happily jumping on the train to Crazyville. We Americans, writ large I mean, seem to have a stunning lack of imagination, and combined with our historical ignorance, become panglossian.
Panglossian: marked by the view that all is for the best in this best of possible worlds : excessively optimistic. Merriam-Webster
For those unaware, the word panglossian is drawn from Dr. Pangloss, a character in Candide, the satirical book written by Voltaire, a French philosopher of the Enlightenment period.
Pangloss is Candide’s tutor, whose philosophical perspective, “all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds”, never wavers despite all evidence to the contrary. Evil, mayhem, chaos and disease encroach further and further into his own country, society, and personal life. No matter; Pangloss insists that it is all ultimately for the best in this best of all possible worlds.
I often feel as if our country, or at least large swaths of it, are trapped in a maze of Panglossian delusion. Faith in the institutions which are so obviously corrupt persists; at least enough that we are all at risk of living in a totalitarian state.
Our churches have neglected all sense of commitment and conviction to hard truths. Our schools operate as little more than basic training camps for the revolution, and we persist in believing that things can only go up from here.