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Those Who Walked Away From Sanity

You’re walking down a foggy road, it’s twilight. You’re thinking about how divided this country is and feeling rather gloomy.

There’s a smell of sulfur in the air. And you think here, finally, is the answer to your worries. As a gentleman with horns and forked tail comes out of the fog, you slap your forehead and realize there is a reason the left is going completely insane and can’t leave anyone alone.

You slap your forehead, tell the guy that it’s early for Halloween costumes, and walk on.

There are a lot of stories of deals with the devil. They range from the gloomy, where the poor lost soul can never fight free (though he/she can sometimes have lots of fun as a ghost), to the ones where the devil is defeated by a trick. I have no proof, but my gut feeling and experience are that the first are mostly European and the latler mostly American.

And you — all of you — know d*mn well you shouldn’t make deals with the devil.

The problem is this: the deals with the devil people make — the real ones, which apply whether one believes in the devil or not — are not the kind made at twilight at a crossroads with a being of distinctly evil shape, and imbued with a suspicious smell.

Instead, they’re made in nice rooms, in meeting rooms, at conferences, with well-dressed people who are so benign, so kind, so full of desire to help us. And also, inevitably, powerful and full of the aroma of success.

They stand in our way and without quite saying anything political (some of them do. One of them was stupid enough to at least hint at politics to me when I was in the political closet, but most don’t) make it clear that if you want to advance, succeed, or even “just” remain employed, you must say the right words, believe the right things, hang out in the right circles.

Is this a sin only of the left? I don’t know. For my entire life, the half century or so I’ve been cognizant of such things, the people in control, the people who were rich, famous, well put together, were leftist.

And the problem with deals with the devil is that they sound so plausible: after all, sure, I hated communism, but these people, so smart, so successful, seemed to think that this time they could do it right. I was always contrary. What if it were I who was wrong? What if I had lacked the knowledge they had? Before the internet, who did you know who agreed with you? Some friends, sure, but you – loving them madly – could also justify their opinion. They were contrary. They were rebels. That was probably it.