Hollowed Out

My daughter and I took Wee Jamie, the Wonder Grandson, and our next-door neighbor up to Canyon Lake to spend the day of the 4th of July at the military recreation site there; there are pavilions there above small sandy beaches, for the use of active military and retirees to picnic in, restrooms and shower complexes (in need of serious renovation, or at least a sand-blasting and a clean-out of crud and insect life), an RV park, some boat ramps, and a scattering of cabins for rental. The day was overcast until late in the afternoon, and it has been very, very hot and rainless for the last two or three weeks, so the water level was quite low. Both the boat ramps on the Air Force side were well out of the water, and there was quite a lot of exposed beach, much more than last 4th, when we also spent the day there.

But there was a good crowd at the beach, mostly families with children, venturing into the rather silty water, with innertubes and floaties and small life vests for the smallest children, in the intervals between the adults barbequing and drinking. It all seemed utterly normal, and yet hollow, as if we were only going through the motions out of habit more than anything else.

Well, it was a pleasant day, so perhaps it wasn’t as hollow as all that. There were American flags, banners and red-white-and-blue garden ornaments displayed all though my neighborhood, perhaps more than there were in previous years, so perhaps it was in a kind of defiance, an insistence that yes, Things Are Absolutely Normal, DAMMIT!

Because things generally are not Absolutely Normal, as we have come to accept over the last half-century or so. Our republic and many of the institutions we had previously had reason to trust, or at least, considerable credible with a sprinkling of salt … have been hollowed out. They still look OK, whole, sound and trustworthy from the outside, observe the same customs and rituals as they always have done … but they are hollowed out.

Nothing remains of them but the outward shell, the semblance of what they once were supposed to be. Organizations like the FBI, and institutions like the national press, public school systems in the larger urban areas, or our large-scale movie and TV media go through the motions; making a show of investigating certain crimes, covering events presumed to be noteworthy, teaching schoolchildren the three ‘R’s making movies and TV shows for the amusement of the public. Too many of our established church organizations are whoring after strange new gods, against the stern scriptural commands, impelling breaks among congregations and diocese between the trendy apostates and those who take their religious beliefs to hear. Even our professional military organs appear to have gone through the same depressing process, appearing to be more dedicated to catering to the trans and other minorities rather than fielding the best at killing our enemies and breaking their stuff. (Recruiting and retention is tanking, especially among those who formerly provided the largest portion of recruits, and who can blame them, when being white, southern, male, and traditionally religious is being painted as the Worst Human Beings Evah! by the military higher echelons.) I suppose there are still dedicated teachers in public school systems who are still teaching kids to be literate, numerate, and patriotic, and not grooming the kids for sexual exploitation immediately or down the line. There are probably real working reporters out there for national outlets (Salena Zito comes to mind) and some working military officers and NCOs who are still considering the defense of the nation against foreign enemies their primary goal, instead of pandering to every woke cause around.

Discuss as you will, and while we still can. Any evidence/examples of institutions and individuals still holding out against the hollowing-out of our institutions and culture will be fallen upon with happy gratitude.

10 thoughts on “Hollowed Out”

  1. “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.”

    1 Kings 19:18

  2. A hollow, and constantly eroding, shell will, eventually, collapse into itself because there is no internal supporting structure to support the deteriorating facade. Until the moment of collapse everything appears more or less normal, except that to a practiced observer who notices the rust and missing rivets, nothing has been normal for quite a while.

    When that happens to buildings, or ships, it sometimes kills a few people, creates a mess for others to clean up, but for the most part, life goes on.

    Heinlein’s “Bad Luck” quote comes to mind, in a structural sense.

    When it happens to countries entire cultures can die and there is no one to clean up the mess. Small countries simply rename themselves, re-order the political landscape, and hope to trudge on. Large countries can create an abyss when they collapse, and the effect spreads a great deal farther than most anticipated.

    Prevention and cure is the usual “ounces and pounds” thing; so far I haven’t seen much of the first and doubt the existence of the latter. The “ounces” part requires awareness, acceptance of responsibility, a fair amount of work, hardship in varying degree, all of which seem rather hard to come by lately around these parts. As for the “pounds” part, one can count on pretty strenuous short-weighing when it comes to that.

    “Now” is a tough thing, “then” is much easier and sounds so much more congenial and achievable. “Why put off until tomorrow what you can ignore completely” is not a successful life motto but it is certainly an attractive one and easily adopted.

    Decisions are tough things because not all decisions are, nor can they be, completely correct, and correctness of decision is considered so valuable it cannot be risked. The concept of Fail Forward is anathema to the risk averse mind so any possible Reward is denied in the face of potential Risk. That not making any decision is itself a decision escapes many.

    The concept, much less the practice, of resilience, options and recovery is so foreign to most it frightens them and fear is just as strong a non-motivator as it is a motivator.

    Life is not a spectator sport, points are awarded for involvement and achievement, and there is no row of seats in the grandstand far enough from the field to avoid being splashed with mud.

    Or worse.

  3. I tried to enlist in the air force in ’90. I was nearly done with college and thinking it could be a career…but instead I was disqualified for life from all branches of the armed forces because I had had 2 nasal polypectomies (a same-day surgery that I have not needed since). They didn’t want to risk years of high medical bills. Now, of course, they offer lifetimes of free surgery and drugs to any man who thinks he is a woman or vice versa.

    So then, even in the run up to a war, they were at least watching out for the taxpayer and maintaining some semblance of standards. Today, no.

  4. As children, my parents took us to 4th of July events at the local small town. From things my dad said from time to time, he could see what direction the US was heading. While he was not one to complain I’m sure that, to him, the celebration events were hollow and yet…he still took us to them. I think that he was trying to show us that there was something brighter and better out there even with(or in spite of) the corruption, crime, and graft emanating out of Washington. One of the things I find interesting is going through the thoughts and emotions, firsthand, that previous generations went through before us.
    Going forward, do we also do things – not for ourselves, but for the children within our realm of influence?

  5. 1. Identify a respected institution.
    2. kill it.
    3. gut it.
    4. wear its carcass as a skin suit, while demanding respect.
    — David Berg

  6. I am old enough that I probably won’t have to deal with the collapse. But it is coming. Meanwhile, I enjoy reading several kinds of books. One is history, which tells us where we have been and how it was. Of course, I don’t mean the “1619” stuff, which is for those who know nothing. An other type is fiction. One favorite in Andrew Wareham who writes historical fiction. I have spent some time checking his facts and they are correct. I tolerate his biases, among which are dislike of Americans and dislike of Churchill. He is a British author.

    The other current favorite is PT Deutermann who is a retired Navy Captain and whose father was a WWII admiral. He writes in two modes. He has a series of WWII novels which are excellent and which tell us a lot about the men who fought that war. One of them is about the destroyer screen at Okinawa which took a lot of the casualties of the Kamikazi campaign at that stage of the war and which probably influenced our decision to use the atomic bomb. His father was involved in that and he says that his father would never talk about it.

    His other series is about Washington and the bureaucracy. He spent years in the Pentagon and knows it well. He is suitably cynical and I enjoy his use of the term “public serpents.” Anyway, reading is how I spend most of my time now. I am older than Joe Biden but still have enough of my marbles to enjoy life. Unlike him.

  7. My family went to local fireworks shows on some 4ths of July but then we lived at places like fort sill, fort Riley, red stone arsenal. Picatinny arsenal, Carlisle, Newport, fort Leavenworth and places like that and in my 30 years in the navy most of it based out of San Diego. Patriotism was an everyday thing and needed no special days.

  8. Sarge,

    I am by avocation somewhat of a historian. One of the constants in human life and societies is a belief that “as it was in the past, ever shall it be in the future”. Which is one reason that societies find themselves taken by surprise. Sometimes fatal surprise.

    As far as is known, we were a country, culture, and political system that was unique in all of human history. A self-governing population that was in agreement on a Social Contract, a rule of law that we used to be able to at least pretend applied to all regardless of class and wealth, and a wealth of institutions that could implement all of that AND integrate people from all over the world into that Social Contract.

    Two and a half centuries is a reasonably long run for such a society. But the signs of the failure of the “ever shall it be in the future” are becoming too blatant to ignore. Time is running short, and the collapse of what was will probably be measured in months or at most a couple of years from now.

    I take no joy in saying things like that. I, also, would love to see or hear something to give hope for the future.

  9. So would I, SB – so would I. But the evidence of all the rust and missing rivets is just too much for an observant person to ignore any further.
    I don’t think that it will be too calamitous in Texas and in the strong red states – but the big red-dominated cities are already circling the drain.
    I wish my brother and sister would leave California – Governor Newsome has nothing between the ears but jellied hair-care products. But they love it there, have always lived there, and manage to look away from the rust and rivets, and think that Texas is perfectly barbaric.

  10. Any evidence/examples of institutions and individuals still holding out against the hollowing-out of our institutions and culture will be fallen upon with happy gratitude.

    It seems to me that our present regime trumpets any potential success to the max and buries any setback. I note that during the covid lockdowns nurses working at a local hospital chain were fired with great fanfare if they refused the experimental medical treatments the regime demanded of them- but later hired back quietly, which I only know about because I worked with someone who knew people involved.

    I also note that so many people in my industry invited the regime to go have conjugal relations with itself re the covid “vaccine” that it decided the mandates did not apply to us. This happened even before there were any court rulings against the mandates.

    Since I figure the regime wanted to require everyone to get their phone scanned to ensure they had the latest booster shot before they’d even be able to buy food, I’ll count actual events as a success.

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