In the Garden of Dark and Darker

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

The story goes that Eve and Adam got evicted from their paradise because they learned the truth.

It appears that Adam had been content not to know, but Eve had some questions. The rest is history.

Had she actually existed, Eve would count as the first freethinker. Since she’s a fiction, we have to credit some anonymous storyteller with the insight that half the people are content to stay warm with partial truths and illusions. The other half . . . search for the truth. The light switch in the dark, if you will.

Those are my kinda people.

We have to admit that truth and facts have never really caught on in the United States. The first “Great Awakening” revival craze swept the US before we were a nation, in 1730. The US has been a nation racked by “Great Awakenings” — there have been three and maybe four in US history, according to which scholar you’re talking to. (We may be going through one now.) Each Great Awakening threw more Americans into their own “counter-factual” worlds.

Sure, we’re going to build “a wall of separation” between religion and politics. Someday. But, meanwhile, we’re going to maintain, for example, a Senate Chaplain. Who, since 1789, has just happened to be Christian and, until recently, white. Go figure.

No — truth and facts haven’t really caught on. Adam digs how it is; Eve not so much.

The decisive question that will decide the future of the US is whether or not we can find a baseline for shared reality. Only after there’s agreement on something as real can we talk about common values. Until then, there will be at least two Americas. More likely, a myriad.

At the moment, many are voicing astonishment that so many Americans can’t tell truth from lies. Actually, this is the same ol’ same ol’.

This is about more than the failure of a shared narrative. Basic agreement about what it was that Eve and Adam learned is three sheets to the wind here.

The old saying goes, “After every dance, the lights come up.” Meaning that after all the mystery and mood lighting, stark reality appears.

Eve switched on the lights in Eden. Way to go, proto-freethinker!

In the US, however, the lights have yet to come up.