Sunday, August 18, 2013

View From The Playroom

Davey Dickson entered the student center, almost oblivious to everything that was going on there. He was entirely immersed in the music streaming through his ear buds as he headed for the familiar group that he knew would be just up the stairs in the lounge area. He was tied to the group through the basketball program, being one of the team’s managers.

Davey bought a Coke and headed up the stairs to the familiar hangout place. Sure enough, there they were, as always, engrossed in some big debate about who knows what. And Davey, though outwardly demure, was inwardly excited because he knew he was about to become part of it all. He loved these lively conversational exchanges of this unlikely group.

Davey plopped down by Marsha, one of the squad’s cheerleaders, as though it didn’t really matter where in the world he sat - but it did matter. He was secretly elated to get a seat next to her. And, his emotions popped at the thought that this might be the day when she actually noticed him. So, he focused on the conversation, posturing in his mind as to how he might make a particularly impressive entrance into the intellectual fray that was already in full swing.

“Politics?! Religion?!” Davey recoiled in his thoughts as he caught up to the conversation. “Of all days, who cares?” he thought. Davey now knew his chances of impressing Marsha were all but out the window in the face of the subject matter – of which he was very intentionally ignorant on both counts.

Davey was also completely unaware when it came to the “Invisibles” who were mingling among the group. They were three of a much larger group of Satan’s security force assigned to monitor this campus, which had long ago come under the great demon’s firm control.

Davey didn’t know it, but these demon guardians were also very disappointed in the conversation. This was simply not a conversation which should be taking place on this campus on their watch.

The ranking demon of this group of three was Daanon. His subordinate, standing next to him, realized immediately the seriousness of the situation. And, he was very keenly aware of the repercussions which could come from their superiors should this incident be handled badly. He said, “Sir, should I alert the captain of this situation?” Daanon, exuding a confidence based in his long experience, shook his head.

“No, Alda,” he said. “Just let it ride for a bit. I think this conversation is really of no consequence. These kids, altogether, don’t know enough about the truth to fill a thimble. They will probably just speculate for a few minutes from the vacuum of their ignorance and naiveté and then be on to the next trendy little thing. Let’s just observe them for a few minutes.”

“Very good, sir,” Alda responded, as he relaxed a bit in his stance.

The conversation, which was ongoing, had erupted from a plan that a very frustrated Davis Jackson had set in motion five minutes before Davey arrived. Jackson, for weeks, had been pressuring his girlfriend, Cindy, also part of this group, to give into his sexual demands. But, she had consistently resisted him. So, today, his intention was to attempt to use the group to ambush her.

Cindy had a church background – albeit, a shallow one. Nevertheless, it was enough to give her pause at such a large step. Plus, she knew it would be a huge betrayal of her parents trust and expectations. So, she was, to this point, more than a little resistant.

Just as Davey arrived, Jackson was making a seemingly nonchalant statement addressed to the whole group. “Well, the ‘black robed boys and girls finally got something right yesterday with that same sex marriage ruling. Good-bye one more road block to love being what God always intended it to be: free and easy, just like it was at the beginning.

Daanon chuckled, “See what I mean, gentlemen.” His subordinates returned his amused smile.

Robby and Tina were the other sophomore couple in the group. They had been dating since high school. Robby was the undisputed chief cut up of the group. On hearing Davis’s statement he let out a low, “Oh,” and quickly rose as though he had to go care for some urgent thing that he just remembered.

But, as he crossed behind Jackson , he suddenly turned and wrapped both arms around Jackson’s neck, pulled him back, and kissed him on the cheek several times. Between each kiss, he was shrieking, “Jackson, I love you man. Finally, we can be together,” etc.

Robby and Jackson were team mates on the basketball squad. Jackson was from Detroit and Robby from San Antonio. It would have been difficult to anticipate just how close these two had become over the last two years. But, in fact, they were very tight.

But, for the moment, Davis was fighting as best he could to get away from Robby’s grip.

However, he was just too off balance. The group erupted with laughter. When Robby finally released his hold, Jackson jumped up and bristled, yelling with real indignation, “Get off a’ me, man. Are you some kind a’ fool?!”

“Hey, you were lookin’ right at me when you said ‘free and easy,’ man. I thought you were givin’ me the nod,” Robby returned with a serious face. Then he looked at Tina and said, “Sorry, sweetheart, but the heart wants, what the heart wants.”

The group quickly tapered off in their laughter as Davis stood taught and fists clinched. Robby then looked back at Jackson and smiled a silent smile as if to say, “Bring it if you want to, man.”

But, Jackson really knew better. Robby was a big ole boy who could hold his own with a grizzly bear. And, Jackson knew he was socially conservative before he ever made his statement to the group. And, he knew that Robby was never intimidated by the “room.” So, after a short emotional pause, a smile began to ease across Jackson’s face, “You are crazy, man. But, we’ll just chalk it off to your Texas upbringing.”

“You’re right man,” Robby shot right back, now smiling broadly. “In Texas nobody thinks boys oughta’ to marry boys. It’s true, we do on occasion issue a marriage license for a man and his horse. And, on the rarest of occasions, we might even extend one for prize bulls. But, we know it’s not natural to go man to man or girl to girl. It just goes against common sense, basic intelligence, and nature,” Robby said confidently.

Tina, now concerned about the volume of Robby’s voice, said in an elevated whisper, “Robby, pipe down, and come over here and sit down. Texas is not the whole world.”

“No, but, it’s most of it,” Robby said, without missing a beat.

Daanon spoke to his confederates. “How did this kid wind up on this campus, I wonder? And how has the school had so little impact on his world view even after almost two years? These are questions to which we need answers, gentlemen. These questions go to the heart of what we do here.”

Hanton, the most junior member of the demon group, spoke up. “I worked up a profile on this young man when he came here, sir. What brought him this far north was a full ride basketball scholarship to study engineering. The young lady just came here because he did.

“As you already know, sir, Southerners tend to be course and boorish. And this boy is pretty typical. He was brought up on a ranch in South Texas and has a background in the Baptist church – as does his girlfriend. But really, neither of them seem to be very devoted, but I think they think they are.”

“Well, let’s see if we can’t bring some circumstances into this boy’s path which will wipe that arrogant smile off his face, Hanton,” Daanon responded with a distinct note of disdain in his voice. “You make that a priority; and let’s see just how sturdy this Texas bred Baptist really is.”

“I’m on it, sir, Hanton quickly responded with a note of certainty in his voice. I will double him over like yesterday’s newspaper.”

“So, it sounds like you already have a plan?” Daanon quiered.

“I do, sir. His big mouth will make it easy. His life around here is about to become really ‘uphill’ with both the faculty and his fellow students.”

“And, I’m pretty sure I can greatly complicate his life by cultivating an untimely pregnancy for miss Tina. The boy is really into porn, and the couple is already very sexually active. All I have to do is introduce a little carelessness into their passion and that will be that. It’s not even that hard, really.”

Daanon nodded his approval as he took on a more contemplative expression. “These Southerners, you know, they’re just not ‘big league’ material. I’ve yet to see anything, including education, which can entirely remove the deep stains of the divine conscience from most of them.

“Even when they actually try to break out and embrace our values, still, those long ingrained rhythms create a serious discord between our ways and theirs. It’s not hard to predict that, as a group, they will always be only second class citizens in the world we are building.” The other two demons nodded in agreement.

As the conversation moved on among the students, Davey saw an opportunity. For sure, it was risky. He didn’t actually know where Marsha stood in this conversation. But, this was his chance and he was going to take it. So, Davey jumped in, “The world is changing, Robby. There’s a new sheriff in town. He’s called ‘Tolerance.’ Maybe you didn’t get the memo.”

Davey was trying to catch Marsha’s facial expression and body language in his peripheral vision. He knew he must not look directly at her for fear she would see right through what he was really doing.
Davey had been attracted to Marsha for some time. She was a very beautiful girl. But, she was also a bit distant and mysterious. That’s why Davey settled on the pursuit ploy of “seeming disinterest.” But, in fact, he was very interested - hopelessly, maddeningly interested.

Robby, still smiling, shot back. “Oh yeah, I’ve met that new sheriff of yours, Davey – a real nice guy. I met him one day last week in the IRS building downtown; he was directing the targeting of a couple of hundred conservative groups.

“And I bumped into him a couple of times at the Justice Department in Washington. I was especially impressed with how accepting he was of opposition viewpoints, the freedom of the press, and people with a moral perspective. Yeah, right,” Robby concluded sarcastically – but still smiling.

And then, dead silence. Davey had nothing. Davey had totally miscalculated his move. At this moment, he simply had no idea what Robby was referring to. Thus, he had not one clue as to how to respond to his statements – leaving a huge and embarrassing blank space in the conversation.

“Look at him,” Daanon said. “He knows almost nothing of the bigger world in which he lives. He is lost in his own little self-absorbed corner of the planet with his music and his pathetic little unrequited love affair with Marsha. What would we do without the Davey’s of this sad world?

“All of these kids are so easy, really. They view themselves as smart and sophisticated, but they are really just naive children looking out the window of their play room at the larger world. And they want to experience that bigger world; but, they are also afraid of it. So, like the inexperienced children they are, they reach up and take the hand of their teachers to assuage their fears and lend interpretation to that intimidating social landscape which they see.”

“Afraid, sir?” Hanton queried. “To me, they all seem very confident and eager to just jump right in.”

“Yes, that is true, my friend,” Daanon answered. “They are eager, but their youthful bluster and bravado is really just that. Underneath, they fear the unknowns of the bigger world.

“Intuitively, they know that the larger world is less subjective than their ‘playroom world.’ They sense the higher level of personal exposure which is out there. And so, they are, beneath it all, afraid.

“And, I am of the opinion that their fear is primarily based in one immutable reality. I think, at the base, they are afraid because they don’t actually know themselves. And, the larger life compels them to confront that fact.

“It forces them to acknowledge that they don’t really know the true durability of their own resources or the exact location of their personal limitations. And, even these self-absorbed kids sense that such questions can only be answered and confirmed by real life experience. And, they have understood that experience is begrudging. It will only ever surrender those confirmations one day at a time. And so they know they are vulnerable.

“These young people may be bright, and gifted, and privileged, but what they are not is well experienced. And they sense the inherent danger of this glaring deficiency. And, it frightens them – and rightly so.

“But, fortunately for us, most of them have also come to understand that they can borrow, in some measure, from the experience of others. And that reality sets up a perfect opportunity for us and for our cause. And it entirely establishes the purpose which we serve on this campus, gentlemen. We are the guardians of this very special environment where our people can become their ‘lending source.’

“And so, with their tiny noses planted on the window seal of life, they turn to John Princeton and his kind for comfort and clues. In their naiveté they perceive their professors to be the quintessential ambassadors of the larger world, and thus, the perfect interpreters of that larger reality. They believe that their academics, who are really our academics, are people who can show them how to fit snugly into the larger picture and give them the secrets of success.”

“Why do they not turn to their parents for all of that, sir?” Alda interrupted. “To me, they would seem the more obvious choice from whom to borrow experience.”

Daanon chuckled out loud, “I think the great Aesop was right, Alda. Familiarity does, indeed, seem to breed contempt – especially in the human child.

“It truly is laughable, really. We are often able to get them to far undervalue and even entirely reject parental values, especially those which are in conflict with ours. I really have no explanation for the ease of it all except it is just part of the quirky insanity of youthful stupidity.” Alda returned a knowing smile to his superior.

“At any rate, for whatever reason, we are able to use our well placed professors very effectively to provide the direction and confirmations they are so desperately ready to receive. And so, we do. Princeton and his colleagues become our perfect instruments to convince them to embrace the core delusion that they are, indeed, their own best hope.

“And they happily buy in because of the ancient motive which is already working within them - the deep seated desire to simply be the master of their own destiny, the god of their own life. They already want to set their own moral parameters, to be their own determiners of truth. So, we just give them permission through the mouth of their very confident teachers.

We simply equate control with true security and assure them that self-determination is a good thing. We encourage them to pursue ever greater personal control over their lives. And, because security is what children want most, they respond easily almost every time.

“I tell you, it is an amazing process, really. These kids fancy themselves so aware and sophisticated. But, throughout their subversion, they remain completely unaware of what’s really happening to them, even as we are transforming them into our philosophical dupes. Honestly, the wonder of it never ceases to amaze me.”

As Daanon lectured his demon troops on the subversion process, the group dynamics among the students changed. The group fragmented into couples, now talking among themselves.

The normal lightheartedness of the get-together had simply not happened today. And then, the atmosphere in the room had turned instantly awkward when Robby had so brutally bested Davey in conversation. The whole group, except for Robby, felt embarrassed and sorry for Davey after that exchange. And so, as a result the group fragmented.

Marsha responded to Davey’s embarrassing moment by engaging him in a somewhat flattering conversation about his taste in music. While this did not entirely remove the sting of what had happened with Robby, it certainly went a long way to help Davey feel somewhat vindicated regarding his larger goal – getting Marsha’s attention.

Robby and Tina had made their strained exit at Tina’s behest. And, after moving to a distant corner of the room, Davis and Cindy were quietly, but intensely, discussing his less than honorable role in how the group conversation had gone.

Daanon continued his explanation to his subordinates, occasionally gesturing toward the students as he spoke of them. “And this idea of becoming self-sufficient works like magic, gentlemen. It eventually begins to permeate their whole existence. As time goes along it begins to affect all that they think and do. And this simple core delusion forever binds them to us and to our cause.

“And, this one deception completely insulates their minds against the overtures of the Creator. It entirely devalues the work of the Savior in their thinking. And, it makes them oblivious to the larger consequences of their choices in life. Thus, cut off from the divine influence on their mind and conscience, they become our deluded troops to employ in service to our cause in whatever way we may choose.”

Daanon again surveyed the remaining students in the room. “Obviously, our work is important here, gentlemen. Never forget that. I would encourage you, my friends, dedicate yourself to your job here - not out of a fear of your superiors, but because your work is inherently invaluable to our cause.” His subordinates nodded in agreement.

Daanon’s facial expression now evolved into a thousand yard stare as he spoke. “Every year I watch professors Princeton and Simpson, and the others, work their magic on these little simpletons. I’ve never seen anyone better than Princeton at subverting young minds. I truly believe the man has a gift.

“Over these years that we have been here on campus together, I have watched him strip the old stains from literally thousands of young minds. If they come here with any semblance of the divine conscience, it is a very good bet that he will shred it before a student escapes his influence, and better yet - they love him for it! For sure Princeton and Simpson are the ‘ideological cavalry’ on this campus.”

Daanon then fell silent, obviously drifting a little further in his own thoughts without speaking them out loud. Then, the senior demon snapped back to the moment. “You know, we need to be sure that our Texas friend is exposed to Princeton’s classes. 

 That boy is a perfect candidate for the 'Princeton Makeover.' Then we’ll just entertain ourselves by watching the magic work - one more time. Add that to your plan for the lad and his girlfriend for next semester, Hanton.” Hanton nodded his confirmation.

By now, Davis and Cindy were gone and the upper lounge area was empty except for Davey and Marsha. And, they had become engaged in a much broader and much more animated conversation at this point. Davey was absolutely elated, but trying desperately not to show it.

But, when Marsha glanced at her watch, she startled a bit. She quickly looked at the darkening windows of the student lounge which indicated that night was now falling on the snow covered campus outside. “Oh, Davey, I have to go!” she said with some anxiety in her voice.

“I’ll walk you to your car,” Davey offered.

“No, no, it’s OK. I’ll be fine. I have to make a stop by the ladies room to freshen up. You go ahead. I’ll see you here tomorrow, maybe.”

“Are you sure?” Davey pressed. “I don’t mind.”

“No, you go ahead,” Marsha insisted. “I have to freshen my makeup, and that will take a while. Your waiting would make me uncomfortable. You go on, and I will see you tomorrow.”

“Well, OK,” Davey relented. “If you’re sure.”

“I’m sure,” Marsha said, as she scurried away down the hall toward the ladies room.

Daanon looked at Alda, “He doesn’t have a clue, does he?”

“Not a clue, sir,” Alda confirmed.

“How about we introduce the boy to the new world order tonight? Whisper a suggestion to him to follow her, anyway. Tell him it’s a safety issue,” Daanon instructed.

The invisible demon moved close to Davey as he walked toward the stairs. Then demon whispered near his ear. The boy paused a moment in thought. In that moment he decided to wait downstairs and out of sight, and then follow Marsha at a distance, just to be sure she got to her car safely.

Davey stood among some exhibits on the lower level of the student union building. But, he was well positioned to see Marsha come down the stairs. He was excited, to say the least, as he waited. He could not believe the good turn of events which had just occurred. His mind raced forward to the possibilities with Marsha which he could now easily anticipate.

As Davey’s anticipations continued to escalate in his mind, Marsha did, eventually, come down the stairs. Actually, she appeared much more quickly than Davey had expected. But, her hair had obviously been put perfectly into place. And Davey could easily see that her lip stick was shiny fresh.

Davey had never given a thought to the possibility that there might already be someone in Marsha’s life, maybe because he had never seen her with anyone. But, now that possibility vaguely surfaced in his consciousness. But, just as quickly, he dismissed it, thinking that if there was a guy in her life, there’s just no way he could have missed that.

Marsha exited the building, obviously in a hurry. She flipped up the fur edged hood on her coat as she walked toward the parking lot through the lightly falling snow. Davey followed a few seconds behind her.

Marsha’s car was actually parked on the first row of the parking lot only a few cars to the left of the sidewalk’s end. Davey had seen her in the bright yellow Volkswagen Beetle many times, so he quickly spotted the car.

Davey was about 40 yards behind Marsha on the long sidewalk. As Marsha neared her car, he was about to take a cross sidewalk to move away in another direction. But then, he noticed that someone, also in a hooded coat, was standing beside the driver’s door of Marsha’s car. He stopped and became entranced in the observation.

Marsha walked directly up to the person and pushed back the hood on her coat to reveal the flowing blond hair of a tall woman. Marsha then pushed back her own hood and the two embraced in a long and impassioned kiss.

While Davey was observing this devastating encounter, the three unseen demons stood just to his left in a loose semi-circle observing him. They said nothing. They simply smiled a knowing smile as they made eye contact with each other.

The End

The chronic problem with the young is that they are typically far too quick to entrust themselves to themselves.  But, in truth, they dangerously inexperienced.

 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and prudent in their own sight!   - The Prophet, Isaiah