In the 1400s, a nun in a French convent started making sounds like a cat. Other nuns began to do the same. Eventually, they started biting one another. As word of the bitings spread, so, too, did the bitings. They swept through other convents all the way to Rome.
In July of 1518, people in Strasbourg, then part of the Holy Roman Empire, began dancing. It started with Frau Troffea. Others began to join in, and soon there were 400 dancers. Some died as a result of the nonstop dancing that went on for a month. They could not stop.
In 1692, colonists in New England began having fits. Demonic possession was a suggestion. The epileptic-like fits led to the Salem witch trials. In 2008 in Tanzania, female students started fainting for no reason. In 2011, students in Le Roy,
N.Y., developed Tourette's-like symptoms that went unexplained.
History is riddled with episodes of mass hysteria. Sometimes those episodes of mass hysteria lead to evil. Sometimes they lead to merely bizarre stories. But society, on occasion, has fits of hysteria and insanity burning like wildfire through it. The wildfire eventually burns out, but it often leaves destruction in its wake.
The United States of America and much of the West are currently in a fit of hysteria. A wildfire is burning through it. Up is down. Down is up. Good is evil. Evil is good. Wrong is right, and right is wrong. Boys can suddenly be girls. Sex and gender are suddenly different things. And Justice Anthony Kennedy believes that because someone may look at the horizon and find loneliness, the Constitution guarantees him the right to marry another man.
Leave aside the fact that any judge who can redefine a multi-thousand-year-old institution on a whim has more power than our Founders would want. Our society is going through a round of hysteria.
For many in the country, they feel compelled to board up the windows, batten down the hatches and wait for this latest round of collective hysteria to run its course. Wildfires always run out of fuel. Nature or God, whichever your preference, sorts these things out.
Along the way, society is forgetting why we are organized as we are. G.K. Chesterton wrote of the "democracy of the dead." He wrote, "Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man's opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man's opinion, even if he is our father."
Marriage arrived at what it has been through either divine fiat or trial and error. In the same way, our ancestors structured society to have people rely on themselves, each other, their local churches and their local governments for help. Now, the same madness sweeping through on marriage demands we get right to polyamory and scrap tax breaks for religious nonprofits. It is not a war on marriage, but a war on a way of life itself. If one dares bring fact into the mix, they are shouted down, boycotted and driven from the town square.
There is also a relentless desire to make those who recognize the madness think they are alone. Voices of dissent must be silenced. You must think you are all alone so that you might decide to go along to get along. The media elite are in cahoots with the censors, having picked a side now declared a "fundamental right," and you are not to know others disagree with elite consensus.
But you are not alone. Wildfires eventually burn out. The question for you is not whether you take a break from it all and step back to protect your family. The question for you is whether, after you do step back, you prepare yourself to step forward into the rubble, smoke and char to help rebuild civilization once the fire burns itself out.
To find out more about Erick Erickson and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.