In Alice and Wonderland, Alice is standing in a roadway, leading in opposite directions. And Alice says out loud, "Which way do I go?" And the Cheshire cat says, "Well, it depends on where you want to end up."
"I'm not sure," says Alice.
"Well then, if you don't know where you're going, it doesn't matter much which way you turn, now does it?"
I heard that yesterday, and it made me think: Where are we going? I'm not even sure if we even know anymore. And maybe some of us have never known. Maybe the Cheshire cat is right: We're all mad here. Perhaps it's why so many people have tuned out. Perhaps those people know something that we don't. Like Cheshire cat, they have figured out that we don't know where we're going, so it really doesn't matter which direction we choose.
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Then again, maybe those people actually know less than we do. Perhaps they don't realize that we are headed somewhere. And, in fact, we're already in flight. But where is it that we want to end up as a man, a woman, a parent, community, a country? Where do we actually see ourselves at the end of this journey?
Up until this weekend, I thought I knew. And then I realized, I've never really verbalized it. Not to you, maybe not even to myself. I'm not sure I've actually seen the finished destination in my head. What I've done is focused on the map, instead of directions, compass points, waypoints, places we've been along the way.
I've seen a vision that's over 200 years old. And now others in this country believe in a vision that is even older than that. Because Marx really made what happened at the tower of Babel seem new. Neither of these visions, however, are destinations. These visions are simply tools to help us navigate. Socialism, capitalism, constitutionalism, those are tools, those are maps, those are the GPS of our day, but they are not destinations.
So many people think the destination is the party. But that's not a destination, that's a tool too. Actually the parties are more like airlines or the vehicles that take us to our destination, they say safely. But I'm not sure we select a mode of travel until we know if, when, and where we want to go.
How could you possibly know what kind of vehicle you need if you don't know where we're headed? How can you get to a place that you haven't even stated as your destination? How do you even know you have the right map? If we don't have the tools, the gear, how do you get there?
After that, you can decide whether we need an engineer, a pilot, or a bus driver.
What I thought this weekend is maybe we shouldn't be choosing a candidate if we haven't figured out where we want to end up. It's why Bernie Sanders, I believe, is doing so well. He's handing us a picture of a destination: A beautiful vacation spot that's easy, fair, and inexpensive.
Now, Bernie Sanders is as outdated as a Main Street travel agency, and his brochure that he's passing out is dog-eared and battered and from the 1960s. It's a faded picture that shows a beautiful Marxist and socialist company, one that resembles Sweden in the 1970s. But as you comb through the pages and read the fine print, you realize this trip has many restrictions. "Photos seen are representations," says the brochure. "Your destination may be different. Prices may vary."
What Bernie Sanders is selling, what Bernie Sanders -- the brochure he's handing out from his outdated travel agency is dated. And nobody goes to a travel agency anymore, but somehow or another, his doors are open. Why? Because he's the only one handing out a brochure for you to look at. He's the only one talking about going someplace, going someplace new, going someplace with promise and hope and a different experience.
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I don't agree with it. But what are we offering? Think about this. We're salesmen on a destination. What is it that we're offering? We're not even offering a destination. What's on our departure screens? What's on our travel brochures? We're going to win. We're going to win lots. We're going to lead. We're going to create more jobs. We're going to defeat ISIS. We're going to be more like the Reagan era. We're going to beat Hillary. We're going to build a fence. We're going to restore the Constitution.
What does any of that look like? And let's be honest, none of those are destinations. None of that is exciting. None of that is inspiring. It isn't a place that makes me want to work hard, save up, lay awake dreaming about, telling my children about, or even getting into a car and driving to the airport to get to.
The travel brochure that I've been sharing with people: saving the Western way of life. That's what's on my brochure. But let's look at the fine print on my travel brochure. Saving the Western way of life? The Western way of life is corrupt, selfish, greedy, dirty -- at least that's what most people think. Our culture is shallow, fast food, angry, violent, full of drugs, empty sex, designer labels, and disposable. Let's save it for our families. Really? All the broken homes without two parents. A redesign of what parents and family even mean.
What does a family mean to most under 30 today? The internet, school, and culture has become our parent. Who wants to go there?
Frankly, saving our way of life, saving our way of life is what most conservatives feel they're already doing. But why would I plan a journey to a place I already live as a grind every day?
We're headed someplace, whether we admit it or like it or not. All of us, we're headed someplace as a country, together. And I don't hear anybody articulating a destination where we all want to go.
Would you ever get on to a plane and as it's taking off, saying to the guy sitting next to you, "By the way, where are we headed?" I wouldn't.
Would you go on a vacation without choosing the destination? I wouldn't. But we all have. And we've done it every four years for our entire life.
Do any of the much-discussed and passionately argued reasons to vote for this guy or that guy revolve around a destination?
I realized over the weekend, it's as if we're on an airplane to an unknown destination, and we're about to make a fuel stop; and everybody on the plane is just arguing about the airline or the pilot, and there's only two airlines that we ever know about. And they have very much the same destinations and the same pilots. They're similar, but slightly different skills. And all of us, the passengers are taking each other apart in trying to choose a new pilot or a new airplane, and we're not talking about where the hell the plane is even going. It's unreasonable.
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Each pilot, each airline may be headed in the same direction with maybe a slightly different destination or rate of speed reaching that final stop. And that final destination may be fine for some, and even those who claim to be very much like us, but is it right for us?
Do people even realize that there's a choice of where we end up?
Maybe we need to have a conversation to understand where every passenger wants to go and where they think we're going. Maybe some will want to go someplace else. But those same people will insist on the same plane and the same pilot whose course will never allow them to reach where they think they want to go. But they'll fight for their airline because it's the only one they know. And advertising has made them loyal beyond reason. They think that choosing another flight means that they're admitting that they were wrong about the last flight.
"Hey, I have to fly this airline. I'm part of the mileage rewards program. I can't choose another airline now. I'll lose all of my points."
Some will never see the choice in airlines or pilots or even destination because the flight stewards, with the help of the curtain that's pulled between first class and coach have blinded them to any different option.
Maybe what we need to ask ourselves and those sitting around us is, "Where do you want to go? You know, we're about to land for fuel. Why don't we keep our stub and get off the plane for just a minute? Whether we get on to another airline or pick this pilot over that isn't nearly as important as getting off the plane and having a real discussion of where we -- where we were and why we got on to this plane in the first place. What do you say? Let's get off. Let's stand there in front of the departure boards and see where all of the planes are headed and then ask ourselves do we even want to go."
Because right now, the parties and the airlines, the politicians, the pilots, they all say, "We have to do something," but what they're really saying is, "We have to fly. We have to fly somewhere." Maybe. Yes. Maybe no. But if we do get on a plane and we do fly, shouldn't we ask where?
The Reagan era is not a destination. It's merely a place we've already been. You can't go to the trip in Hawaii that you took with your parents as a little kid. But you can say Hawaii was a wonderful trip. And knowing what I experienced in Hawaii, do I want to go back, or is there some other place that's better?
The Reagan journey was a great one. Many of us remember it fondly. But we can't go back to that journey. We can remember that journey and learn from it.
The Constitution isn't a destination. It's a flight plan. It's an instrumentation system. It's waypoints.
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Maybe we find our way out of this mess, not by arguing over a pilot, but by beginning a discussion of our final destination. Does anybody even want to go there anymore? I mean, after all, we did get on this plane so very long ago.
I've heard talk of a shining city on a hill, but what does that even look like? Most of us I don't think have ever thought of where we're actually headed. Most of us are just trying to preserve what we have, what we have left. Most of us have spent our lives focused on the plane, the pilot, or the maps. Some are merely focusing on, "Why the hell are they in first class?" And, "That curtain is keeping me from something good." That curtain is only keeping you from the exit that is so very visible in times of trouble.
We've all been flying so long, and the cockpit door for this airline has been closed and locked. For so long, we've been on this plane. I honestly don't even know where we are anymore.
If we landed now, where would we be? If we were reasonable, we would land. We would then all get off the plane. We would look at the map to find out where we are. We'd explore our options. We'd look at the destination board. We would choose. We would look at the terrain. We would look at the weather ahead. And then we would begin to search for the best airline. Maybe we'd start a new one. Or we would decide the best way to go is in a car, a bus, to walk.
But I know this: The worst thing we can do is to continue to fight about the airline or the pilot. Only when we've decided on a destination can we find the right pilot that is experienced enough and has the right map to get us where we actually want to go.
Featured Image: Screenshot from The Glenn Beck Program