We live in a distressing time in the US because we live amid the nests to which the chickens are coming home to roost. The phrase “chickens coming home to roost” refers to the cycle of insanity that returns to those who act insanely the consequences of their deeds. “Chicken” is an especially apt term because it’s also typically used as a label for a person who is extremely afraid. (Supposedly, chickens are easily scared and scattered in fear before a marauding fox. Yet, if one has tried to interfere with a hen who is protecting her brood of chicks, one might not be convinced that all chickens are readily frightened away.)
Let’s look at the possibility that “chickens coming home to roost” refers to the actions of scared people returning to haunt them. Since actions arise from thoughts and since feelings of fear can cause thoughts that are irrational, one can readily see how actions that are of chicken nature are based on fear. Fear distorts minds to think irrationally, even to the point of causing chronic irrationality we label “insanity.” In recent generations, the US has become a society of chronically frightened and irrational people who prefer to deny our emotions and hide behind the masks of our egos in pride than to admit that we are afraid most of the time. We acquired the habit of denying our fears by many decades and multiple generations of denial of emotions in general.
For example, during one insane cycle of fear-generated violence, one generation created nuclear weapons to solve the problem of needing to feel more secure and then faced the very real possibility of triggering a nuclear holocaust to destroy humanity and render our planet cruelly less habitable. Chickens threatened then to come home to roost. But, we learned to live under that cloud of nuclear fear and march on undeterred in our commitment to our consumerist militarism. We proudly called our lifestyle Darwinian capitalism and by well-crafted propaganda fooled many of us into believing it was “free enterprise” — an expression of our more expansive freedoms as free people, who, as it turns out, failed to realize how seductively our egos were enslaving us on account of our unconscious fears.
We still live under the fear of pending doom of nuclear disaster and many other fears that have piled on top of it in the dark caverns of our minds where our egos entomb them rather than face them. We still march on undeterred as long as we can manage to remain undisturbed by the consequences of our decisions. On account of our habit of denial, we’ve become increasingly indifferent to the legitimate needs of human beings, others and ourselves. Instead of caring how our actions may affect “others,” we carefully plan our actions to make sure that their ill-effects fall on others but not upon us. We’ve practiced this principle of exporting ill-effects for many generations in both our military ventures and our business ventures.
In our military ventures, we expected US citizens to go “off to war” in two world wars, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and many other smaller scale combat actions. And somehow we expected them to function within horrifically terrifying battlefield conditions without falling apart or being adversely affected by their experiences. We expected them to be brave and strong and committed to protecting their faraway homes from the threats we believed were so significant that we placed our citizens in harm’s way in distant lands to avoid those threats. Those who survived physically, we welcomed home as heroes with far too little regard for how their service to our welfare cost them emotionally. We saw physical wounds and disabilities but not emotional ones. We failed to expect, as reason dictates, that after the intensity of battle is over, the falling apart comes along naturally as a part of grieving. It must if anyone is to regain his or her sanity after being subject to such insanity. To us who had learned to harden our hearts and deny to our emotions their sane, healthy role in our lives, emotions became invisible and readily ignored. It takes sensitivity and empathy to detect emotions in ourselves and others and we learned well how to deaden those human attributes of sanity and pretend to live “well” without them in operation in our lives. In fact, we often ridicule and look down upon as “weak” and certainly unmasculine those who have not deadened their sensitive, empathetic nature. We too have learned not to fall apart nor to grieve to restore our sanity. Insanity — to one degree or another preserved by unprocessed emotions — has become our national norm.
We have avoided bringing the battlefield home to us by exporting it abroad to other cultures and lands where we felt freer to resort to violence that spilled over into civilian populations, but not our own. Now the chaos and violence of the battlefields we exported under the influence of our fears are coming home to roost.
We also have exported the harmful commercial side-effects of a materialistic, hedonistic society to place those burdens on others as much as possible. We’ve used the “toilet bowl theory” to justify dumping toxic wastes where we who enjoy the byproducts of that waste are not directly affected or even confronted by the sights and smells of toxins that are robbing others of life, liberty and their pursuit of happiness. Extraction and use of fossil fuels — and the disposal of waste produced by their extraction and use — proceed apace so long as the harmful consequences of the their extraction, use and disposal fall on others. We don’t care unless toxic waste or garbage dumps show up in our backyard. Someone else’s backyard is just fine with us. Pollution is other people’s problem so long as we have options to avoid it.
As a long-term consequence of playing chicken with the truth and failing to honestly face our fears throughout multiple generations, we are now no longer able to reroute the chickens from returning to the roost from which they originally flew. The chickens of our militarism and consumerism are coming home to roost. The empire we’ve enjoyed living within for many generations is now undeniably soiling its own nest. Our lifestyles of denial, of pride and of shifting blame no longer protect us from facing the consequences of our insane, heartless decisions. We are faced with the consequences whether or not we want to be. And we find it difficult to see the justice in this backflow of chickens to their roosts. But just it is. How we’ve come to abhor justice! We fear justice most of all!
If we are to adequately address the escalating violence rising in our society, we must hear and heed the call of justice and do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God — not “our” God as if we define God but “God” as if God defines His/Her own nature. Micah 6:8 states what is required of us, oh, fallible mortals that we are. We must face the fact that those whom we trained to use weapons to protect our insane lifestyles are returning home to find other uses for their training and their weapons. We trained them to become insanely insensitive and lacking in empathy like us and we now object to their teaching us the consequences of our heartlessness.
Certainly, we find it attractive to hire some of our former military personnel to staff our internal civilian military forces to protect us internally from harm that we have created through our heartless lifestyles and to route some of our citizens off to prison. Mass incarceration is another form of dumping ground for the waste products of our militarism and consumerism but we must face the fact that God created no human being to be labeled “waste” and so unjustly treated. Although we claim to be, we are hardly entitled to critique those whom we’ve trained to do our dirty work of harming others on our behalf in the course of their assigned duties as if we might expect them to be always capable of setting aside their emotions and acting reasonably – with sensitivity and empathy – in the face of perceived threats to their well-being. We’ve trained them to react instantly without out consideration for the harm that might flow to others from their defensive reactions and then later purport to hold them accountable for using reflexively the training that we required of them. Having required of our guardians of domestic tranquility other than the duty to do justice, love mercy and walking humbly with a merciful, forgiving and gracious God, we reap the consequences of our unholy expectations. We must hold ourselves accountable!
We also object to finding scummy green algae clogging the beaches upon which we prefer to frolic in our escapist activities so necessary to offset our denied internal emotional pain. We have learned to flee from the natural consequences of our harmful, heartless lifestyles to beaches, parklands and other scenic nature preserves to which we have consigned the last remnants of nature by which we feel rejuvenated while we cause it to become ultimately extinct. The loss of beaches and waterways to algae on account of unfettered use of fertilizers to grow profitable crops and the loss of picturesque mountain vistas to rapacious mining and deforestation or to acid rain from the byproducts of industry to feed our materialistic appetites are chickens coming home to roost too close to home for us to ignore. But ignore them we will if we can.
And if we can no longer ignore them, we will shift to others the blame for causing them and the responsibility for correcting and cleaning up our messes – if we can. As taxpayers who have already funded construction of the highways and airports we use to escape on our vacations to beaches, waterways and mountains, we hardly think it’s fair to also expect us to accept responsibility for the harmful side-effects of our lifestyles and bear the cost of cleaning up after ourselves. Let someone else bear the brunt of our insanity!
And if you say that there is no one else available upon whom to shift the burdens, you are wrong. We may no longer be able to find others in different parts of the 3-dimensional physical world upon whom to foist the consequences of our insanity, but we are creative thinkers. We can export the consequences into the 4th dimension – to the future and let the next generation deal with it. Or perhaps not. Perhaps we are living amid the time frame of that “next generation” even now as the chickens we raised and exported to the winds now journey home to roost among us.
© Art Nicol 2016