A Parable for Our Time

This is a true story; but to me it seems more like a parable.

A single man moved into the apartment next to ours, and he and his mother and his sister furnished and decorated it so that it looked like something out of House Beautiful. It was exquisite: not just the whole ensemble, but each individual piece of it.

But this man had a drinking problem.

One night, my wife and I went to bed early because we were to go off on vacation the next day, and that’d mean a lot of work loading and unloading, driving, etc. At some undetermined hour of darkness, we were awakened by a great CRASH! next door, followed by another, and another, and another. We heard glass shattering. We heard heavy objects being hurled down the stairs and snapping into splinters. And we heard a man cursing. We knew it was the man who lived there, and that he was in a drunken rage.

This went on for quite a while. You’ve never heard anything like it.

The next day, as I was taking suitcases out to the car, the door to that apartment swung open. There stood the tenant, bleary-eyed and half-dressed. Behind him lay a total shambles. All those beautiful pieces of furniture lay strewn across the floor like firewood.Every single thing was broken.

And of course I knew what happened, because I’d heard him pitching his furniture down the stairs, hurling it against the walls, and stomping it.

He greeted me, and with a profoundly sad expression on his face, stepped aside to give me a better view of the ruin of his apartment. And do you know what he said?

He said, “Look what happened!”

Not “Look what I did in my drunken frenzy!” No: it just “happened.” As if he’d had nothing to do with it.

Someday we will point to what’s left of America and say, “Look what happened.”

4 comments on “A Parable for Our Time

  1. Powerful parable, Lee! We are not just one man, but a whole nation of people: a few are destroying, a few are pleading for it to stop, but most are sleeping through the whole thing, only to wake up after it’s too late. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

  2. Sadly, there will be some who think of the carnage and weep….unless our prayers are answered! I am reminded of the watchers on the walls. Perhaps there are enough and the prayers are going up. I hopa-hopa-hopa! (Who said that? I can’t remember.)

  3. Certainly couldn’t be a truer assessment. We hear this very often: “look what happened, great scott, what next?” This is a pathetic state of
    affairs, when no one can figure out what makes things happens; especially when they have done it themselves.

  4. The moral decay of the US has been profound. My childhood was spent in a world of unlocked doors in a very open society. That has vanished, not because it was unworkable, but because the majority of the population has simply walked away from the moral standards which made it possible.

    The new standard of morality would seem to be based upon acceptance, as in accepting others with no expectations whatsoever. It is an inversion of morality, and leaves us with a harsh world in which everyone is a suspect.

    For eaxample, while I was growing up, sexual molestation of a child was very rare. It was quite unusual to hear of a person in a position of trust sexually abusing children. I used to hang around service stations and motorcycle shops after school, learning from the techs and benefitting from the experience. No one worried about anything untoward happening while I was alone with relative strangers, and nothing ever did, because these guys, as humble as their job may have been, still had standards and were decent.

    What happened? Simple: as a society, we walked away from our strengths and gave up greatness in the name of tolerance. It’s not enough to love what is good, everyone does that. We also have to hate badness and refuse to allow it to prosper.

    Great parable, Lee.

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