Wednesday, July 4, 2018
The Fourth World Of July!
I well remember the late Christopher Lee said that he read J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings annually. I was struck by such dedication to a single and clearly influential piece of literature. Then it occurred to me that I almost do the same thing with another piece of classic fantasy literature -- Jack Kirby's Fourth World. While I haven't read it every year, I do manage to read it at least every other year. But now in this time, a time when my country confronts both outrages and absurdities on a daily basis, when threats to the very fabric of civil society are under attack, I find solace in the wisdom in Kirby's epic. His tale drew its inspiration from evils put down by a new world order, but evils which never ever expire. Now they wriggle and writhe and threaten to rear up again, in new clothes and in new places and Kirby's sage insights are a heady balm to help buttress the spirit and focus the mind to confront the lunacy which seeks to make itself the new normal.
The new forces against liberty are lead by the man who now alas holds the highest office in the land. He is a proper villain, a lazy lout, a liar and a coward who uses his forked tongue to weaken the world order which has been established since the end of the last great war. He is stunted emotionally and intellectually and is driven by a host of passions, many of which he has no control over, which make him think himself the hero of the drama, but sadly that's far from the case. He is a man who requires constant reinforcement to his fragile ego and gains that added vigor by attacking anyone who stands up to him and who he sees as lesser. He is a man in all probability controlled by a foreign power, either unwittingly or otherwise -- a traitor to the land he purports to lead. History will not speak highly of his tenure and the truth will find its way forward despite all efforts to mutate "truth" into a commodity and not an absolute virtue.
That villain is aided by a cadre of greedy folks who have for years argued for principles they clearly never believed in. Principles of liberty and personal choice which ring hollow now that the power resides in the hands of a broken man who doesn't adhere to them but still uses phrases which make mockeries of our those cherished values. All that matters to this mob is money and power and hurting the weakest members of the society is seen as a boon to this new breed.
Those who stand up to this villain and his lackeys are often hamstrung by their own passions which reveal a lack of clarity. They too seek power and are likely motivated by greed and for the moment mouth the homilies which will gather a resistant force. One hopes that among these resistors are some who have escaped the general grasping for power and truly have the needs of the greater good in mind.
There is a small light glimmering still in the structures of government and order which in wisdom were established long ago. Those norms of behavior which limited the darker aspects of human nature are slowly being swept away but still there are legal and political structures which stand for the moment as a bulwark against the assault of the villain and his cronies.
Struggle seems inevitable. A fight is coming, a battle in the streets which will harm everyone connected to it. Hopefully that fight can be contained to non-violent methods, political means which will prove the true tenor of the nation and oust the villain from his perch. At times it seems that the power and loathsome desires of the villain are winning the day, but always there is the long game in which right will ultimately assert itself. But it will not come by means of fire and fury, but by the ballot box, a tool which for now still presents itself as a remedy.
The outcome of all this is by no means assured. The villain is dangerous and deadly, but also such a buffoon that one hoped he would be laughed out of power. That might still happen when inevitably the darkness descends and the virtues which make this nation great are once again ascendant in the face of that evil. We live in dark days, not hopeless days by any means and for now the nation stands. But the embers of a deadly fire are being stoked in the seats of power and only a thorough cleansing wind can sweep them away. The Fourth World saga shows how the evil takes root but it also shows how heroes arise in the face of that threat. We must be those heroes. And on this Fourth of July, a day dedicated to the establishment of freedom it's a perfect time to read and remind ourselves of what Jack "King" Kirby said so eloquently in his Fourth World books -- we are the ones who stand against the night to come, we are the ones live in the light and we are the ones who must resist the dark side.