Sounding Brass And Tinkling Cymbal
A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have
not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal." (St. Paul in a letter to the Christian church at Corinth)
The crowd was roaring. The lone man in his impeccable tan colored
uniform would step forward toward the lectern, then pause and let his
eyes wander over the thousands of up turned faces -- all staring at him,
waiting for him to speak. And they waited -- and they waited.
The man at the lectern made no effort to speak. He just stood there, almost motionless, and didn't say a word.
A wave of anxiety, nervousness, began to sweep through the crowd of
expectant listeners. The noise level began to recede. Soon the roar of
the crowd was gone completely. The crowd became quiet and motionless, a
reflection of the man they had come expecting to hear speak.
A full sixty seconds would expire before that man would take the one remaining step to the lectern, and begin speaking.
At first he spoke softly forcing his audience to strain to hear his
words. Quickly they were leaning forward, heads cocked, hands cupped
behind ears in rapt attention, desperately seeking to hear every word,
every syllable, every breath, and lay claim to the wisdom his words
Then little by little he would increase the volume of his voice until
finally he was shouting and gesticulating in a near maniacal manner.
His audience was worked up to a fever pitch ready and willing to do his
bidding, no matter the consequences.
Those of you reading this now, if you are near my age, know exactly of
whom I speak -- Adolf Hitler. He was a master at oratory. He was a
master actor. He was a master at manipulating his fellowman. He was a
master at dealing death and destruction. He was a master at destroying
nations -- and -- nearly destroyed the world.
Watching a film clip of one of his speeches today sends chills racing up
and down my spine. It is as though just the sound of his voice invokes
He was, quite likely, the greatest orator of the 20th century.
Here in the 21st century, we have another great orator. He, too has to
power to move his listeners to act while disregarding consequences. He,
too, has worshipers -- some who even refer to him as "Lord and Master."
His Name is Barack Hussein Obama. And he is President of the United States of America. And he scares the hell out of me!
If you look at the faces in one of Hitler's crowds and compare them to
the faces in Obama's crowds, you will see the same worship of their
speaker. But look closely. Look at the eyes. Do you see it? Do you
see the vacant, "the lights are on, but nobody's home"
look reflected in those eyes? It's the look that makes those tiny
little hairs on the back of your neck tingle and stand up. That's
primal fear, honed to perfection by our ancestors while they still lived
Trust it. It is telling you: "Something is dreadfully wrong."
If you could look BEHIND those blank stares, I feel certain you would
see something else, too. Raw fear. It's the sane part of the human mind
fighting to regain control. Worshipers always fear -- and eventually begin to question.
Given a choice, I will not listen to an Obama speech. I get the same
feeling I would get if told the Battle of Armageddon had begun. Bells
and whistles begin going off in the Amygdala of my brain, the part of
the brain that controls one's "flight or fight" reaction. That's our
caveman ancestors banging on our door in the middle of the night yelling
Be afraid. Be very afraid. No mere mortal should have that kind of
power over his fellow human beings. It is too easily misused. It is raw power -- and it is corruptible.
Obama's speeches are chilling to me ... almost malevolent. It's
as though he is using his voice, his tsunami of words, to misdirect the
gaze of his worshipers away from all that is not right with America
toward a utopian facade of an America that, in reality, does not exist
-- and never will.
Encouraging worshipers is never a good idea for mere mortals. As we
said above, worshipers will eventually begin to ask questions. Sooner
or later they will ask the RIGHT question and receive the
true answer. At which point the "worshipee" is in deep trouble. That
mindless crowd can turn on a dime and produce pitchforks and torches
that light the night in hate and violence -- all directed at the one who deceived them.
History is replete with records of just such behavior played out time
and again. The fate of Benito Mussolini springs instantly to mind.
Often less is, indeed, more. My father was a man of few words. As a
result, when he spoke, the family listened. We knew that even though he
did not speak often, when he did -- it was important -- and usually well
thought out. When he had finished, he had finished. No force on earth could change his mind. I admired that, growing up as a lad, and I still do.
As I have grown older I have noticed that my world has been slowing down
while the world around me has shifted into hyper drive. The voices I
hear from the hyper drive world now are loud, reverberating,
penetrating, harsh, crude, insistent, and aggravating. And I am
continuing to learn how to shut them out and listen for that "still, small, voice" of authority (1 Kings 19:11-13 -- The Old Testament) asking: "What are YOU doing here, J. D.?"
It would seem that we have not yet learned that the answer is not
carried upon the waves of loud flowery oratory regaling us, and
misdirecting us, with all the right "answers" to all our problems.
Instead, it is within moments of quiet introspection when the
still small voice is heard -- just above a whisper -- but with the
gravitas of endless universes.
© J. D. Longstreet
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