Cook: I’m sick of being tired; how do we get out of society?


Years ago I read Rod Dreher’s “The Benedict Option”, which calls on Christians to intentionally withdraw from 21st century society. It’s too destructive, says Dreher, so like Saint Benedict, who founded monasteries in response to corruption in Rome, American Christians should consider an alternative way of life in America, but not America.

“The idea is that serious Christian conservatives could no longer do business as usual in America, that we must develop creative and common solutions to help us maintain our faith and our values ​​in an increasingly hostile world. We will have to choose to make a decisive leap into a truly counter-cultural way of experiencing Christianity, ”writes Dreher, editor of The American Conservative.

Now my conservatism and my Christianity are different from his; However, his book continues to resonate with me.

I wonder quietly:

Can I leave the company?

How? ‘Or’ What?

To me, the company feels like a big reckless device that pumps out so much noise, cruelty and inanity. The media machine, with fear and headlines, the endless hunger of capitalism, a chronic activity that feels like it’s going everywhere but nowhere, all of this supporting what makes no sense but disguised as meaningful .

In response, the desert fathers went to the caves. Monks and nuns in monasteries. Thoreau, a cabin in the woods.

Leaving society means cultivating other qualities, depositing energy, roots and intention in other more nourishing lands.

Because if we stay here, we will starve.

Don’t you feel it too?

In his essay “The Braindead Megaphone”, George Saunders drew a good analogy. It’s like we’re all attending a party, he said, with reasonable, calm and thoughtful conversation. People mingle, laugh, contemplate.

Then a fool with a megaphone shows up. He pushes him hard. He wants attention and gets it by talking about controversies, exaggerations and lies.

“Its main characteristic is dominance,” writes Saunders. “He crushes the other voices … In time, Megaphone Guy will ruin the party.”

The revelers, once grounded and calm, are now restless and restless.

Soon, I would add, everyone wants their own megaphone.

“Their conversations will, in a very short time, occupy his agenda and the more coarse and stupid his bellowings become, the more difficult it will be for more sophisticated arguments to be heard or even conceived by those around him. The megaphone, of course. , are the American media, run entirely for profit, so that titillation becomes more important than truth, analysis or information “, Stephanie Merritt sums it up in The Guardian.

Society looks like ten thousand megaphones.

I am tired of it.

And I’m sick of being tired.

When I was younger and doing things I shouldn’t do, I often marveled at the conscientious single person or two who when things went wrong would get up and go. To hell with peer pressure.

Their departure made a statement.

This is Dreher’s point.

But this should not be reserved for conservative Christians. Anyone among us who finds modern society empty may ask:

How to get out of the megaphone society?

And where to go?

“When I look at a tree instead of an advertisement, I leave society,” says novelist Tao Lin.

In a recent LA Times book review, Scott Burton speaks with Lin, whose new book “Leaving Society” is about the man trying to heal.

Lin gives a starting model that suggests we are not going anywhere.

“When I meditate instead of brooding negative thoughts, I leave society,” he says. “When I sleep and dream, I leave the company. When I work in my garden or play with my cats, I leave the company. When I work on my immune system by natural means, I ‘I leave the company. company. When I make art that is informed by the partnership model, I leave the company. When I am kind or patient or compassionate or tolerant or calm or rational, I leave the company. “

If we reduce our mass consumption of information, will we leave society?

If we shut down social media, do we leave society?

If I sit still, listen more, talk less, face my own fears instead of running away from them, am I leaving society?

It’s not supposed to be negative, all this talk about leaving.

In fact, leaving means that you see more beauty in this world. Megaphones do not speak of trees and rest.

“I’m tired of the absolutes and the extremes and the anger of this age,” wrote James Rebanks in “Pastoral Song.” “We need more kindness, compromise and balance.”


But where to find it?

David Cook writes a Sunday column and can be contacted at

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