An old hit song from 1970 is still quite current, with lyrics that are like a soundtrack for today. "Ball of Confusion," made popular by Motown favorites The Temptations, demonstrates that the more things are said to change, the more things don't. Here's a sample:
Just a Ball of Confusion
Oh yeah, that's what the world is today
Fear in the air, tension everywhere
Unemployment rising fast…
In the midst of confusing events and situations, predictions lead to promises that are made and broken, followed by repeated mistakes.
Time marches on.
In our national circle of "experts," it's considered a sign of sophistication to be "mystified by the obvious." National Review's John O'Sullivan pointed that out several years ago at a San Diego conference. It's even more accurate today. In the eyes of the elite, facts are considered merely suggestions that get in the way of reckless ambition.
Everyday Americans understand that it's not possible to keep spending without regard to income. Promising anything and everything to please certain groups, especially unions, leads to creating giant unsustainable obligations.
Still too many politicians and bureaucrats believe that just piling on even more money will solve it and fix it, whatever "it" happens to be. Despite decades of evidence to the contrary, it's the same old song.
In the debates over what's right for our country there's plenty of talk about the need to avoid a crisis, pay down debts, plans to get out of messes several years down the road … all to make the future brighter for our children and grandchildren.
Think about this: The same people concerned about our later generations champion abortion and an anything-goes culture for the littlest kids. School children are more likely to know about "safe sex" than history, civics, economics, faith and fiscal responsibility.
Scratching their heads
And those who claim to know better continue scratching their heads, wondering why our world is confused and ripping apart. Such a "sophisticated" response makes me wonder if some leaders are just accidentally confused (aka "above their pay grade" and over their heads) or they're stirring things up on purpose, in order to expand their personal power.
Authoritarian groups love confusion, too. In Afghanistan when local people are confused, illiterate and afraid the Taliban has increased power of intimidation.
Back to the song: While some references to current '70s events seem ancient, try these lyrics on for size:
Air pollution, revolution, gun control,
Sound of soul
Shootin' rockets to the moon
Kids growin' up too soon
Politicians say more taxes will solve everything
And the band played on
Due to budget cuts we're not headed for the moon anytime soon, but the other themes sure sound familiar. Like the orchestra on the Titanic, the cultural tune continues, playing ever louder, with more distractions and the newest temporary pain killers geared to take our focus off reality. Reality, however, is unchanging.
But it can sound sooooo good when leaders promise us more "stuff," right? Promises tickle our minds and hearts, until we look at lack of clarity and accomplishments while time speeds by.
Take energy policy (please). Presidents have been promising "energy independence" since Nixon. Every one of them have had a pledge to "get off foreign oil" or to get on to new sources of fuel … usually anything that doesn't work all that well but makes news for a moment. Author Chris Horner says they say they think they can run our cars on "Flubber and pixie dust." Politicos claim to have their latest plans, and they're usually conveniently promised way down the road in 20, 30 or 40 years, going nowhere.
When it comes to national, state and local budgets, everyone is shocked and amazed when regulations chase businesses out of business and tax revenues fall, only to promise new solutions while picking the pockets of everyone again. Then if Americans don't spend more, save more, stimulate more, we're lectured that we're "not doing enough." No wonder we're sick and nervous and yes, confused, about where the future leads. Here's that song again:
So round 'n' round 'n' round we go
Where the world's headed, nobody knows
Just a Ball of Confusion
Oh yeah,, that's what the world is today
Rap on brother, rap on
Well, the only person talkin'
'Bout love thy brother is the preacher
There's some hope! People will say, "Lord knows where we're headed." To that I say, yes the Lord does know, so let's rest in that knowledge. We also need to listen to what He's preaching in these days, knowing that God's love is still here, connecting and calming in the midst of the craziness. As the world feels more out of control, let's remember that —with the possible exception of the Tower of Babel—it's Satan, not God, who is the author of confusion. This realization helps us consider a bigger question:
God, what am I supposed to learn through all of this?
Larson is a veteran Southern California radio/television personality and media consultant. He can be heard daily in San Diego on KCBQ 1170AM from 6 to 9 a.m., and on KPRZ 1210AM from 2 to 4 p.m. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published, May 2011