by Mike Pyatt
For those who’ve embraced Marconi’s gift, that later ushered in commercial radio, one of the most memorable early radio programs, in its’ heyday, was The Shadow Knows, a drama that began as a pulp magazine series, then graduated to radio in the late 1930’s. The principle character was Lamont Cranston, and his female companion, Margot Lane. He opened each drama with, “Who knows what lurks in the hearts of men…The Shadow knows.” He battled crime and evil doers with his hypnotic power to cloud men’s minds, rendering them unable to see him. He was the master sleuth. It spanned nearly sixteen years on the air waves, it graduated into a TV drama, never catching fire as the radio show had earlier. It was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1989.
Even in advancing years on this terrestrial ball, most recall former days of early childhood, when we were spooked by “shadows on the wall.” Noises down the hall. Trees outside casting a long, ominous shadow into our bedroom, or we saw “something lurking in the closet.“ Until reassured by mom or dad’s gentle voice and touch, they seemed eerily real at the time. With time and some maturity, most outgrew such fears. We now tackle things of substance, even if they strike a level of fear in us. Truth eventually prevailed, that those imaginary figures youthful minds crafted in the darkness, were mere shadows. Turning on the light immediately rousted those “bogey men.” In retrospect one can laugh about it.
In the universally quoted 23rd Psalm, David reflected on the “valley of the shadow of death.” He didn’t fear a shadow. God’s presence comforted him. Scary for kids. Not mature adults. Shadows can be daunting at times. In our culture, we prattle on about issues that are innocuous. Nothing more than shadows. They exert little consequence on things of substance. Another misguided editorial calling to end world hunger. That 2016, politico-drama, to place a woman on a $10 bill? Andrew Jackson will soon get the boot from the $20 bill, replaced by Harriett Tubman. Some advocated for Hillary Clinton on a $2 bill replacing “that old white slave owner” Thomas Jefferson? Nothing more than crass symbolism.
In the face of black on black, white on black, or white on white killings, rather than address the heart issue, the mainstream media, race baiters, and the Left focused on “bogey man shadows.” “Too many guns” or “the dangerous Confederate flag,” while conspicuously ignoring the killing fields in Chicago, that persists. It was vogue to call for the flag’s demise. Ebay, Google and NASCAR, joined the PC charade. “Place it in a museum where it belongs,” we’re admonished. President Trump is skewered for claiming he’s a Nationalist. The mainstream media linked him with the Alt Right and White Nationalist, who support such “troubling symbols.” Few dispute that slavery was an abysmal period in our history. Our 5th Supreme Court Chief Justice, Roger Taney wrote the majority opinion, 7-2, in Dread Scot vs. Sanford, that blacks had no standing before the Constitution. It wasn’t the flag. Another shadow. Polls were absent telling us how many in Union garb cared a whit about slavery.
Killing nine innocent blacks in a Charleston church in 2015, beckoned our 44th President’s political strategy of never passing up a crisis. He pounced on it like buzzards on a three legged dog. This “shadow president” lurked in the Oval Office for two terms, stoking racial fears, division, and promulgating identity politics. It’s surprising he didn’t invoke the classic words of James Whitcomb Riley’s, Little Oprhant Annie, “An’ the Gobble-uns ‘ll git you Ef you Don’t Watch Out!” For the record, it was a Democratic led House in South Carolina who voted to hoist the Confederate flag atop the State House in 1962.
Are there not substantial issues to engage? Aren’t the unborn still being slaughtered in the name of “women’s health?” Reach out to a young girl in a troubled pregnancy, caught in that web of deceit and duplicitous language. Befriend her. Save two lives. Too often we’re hamstrung by confronting global battles, that transcend our scope of influence, overlooking the painfully obvious, where one’s efforts may have significant sway. Rarely does one discover them gazing out the kitchen window. One must engage. Bemoaning has limitations. Confront hypocrisy where it lurks, offering a principled alternative. Daunting issues remain. Democrats, reenergized by mid-terms victories, claim their newfound mantle of moral superiority. That’s shadow. NY junior Senator Kirsten Gillibrand recently received “her calling” from somewhere, to usher in their abbreviated reign of adumbrated sophistry and hypocrisy.
How does one avoid “shadow boxing?” Distinguish between pragmatic and principle; salutary versus deleterious; shadow versus substance; preference versus conviction, and temporal versus eternal. Criticizing Trump’s tweets are shadow; the economy’s substance. T.S. Eliot reminded us the pursuit of “permanent things” has no surcease. Move beyond the shackles of banality. Discover your passion and gifting. Your fingerprints should be all over it. It’s indubitable that mankind is Fallen. Apart from Redemption, his proclivity is self-interest. John Adams reminded us, in stark contrast to Enlightenment Frenchmen, like Rousseau and Condorcet, that men are foolish, corrupted by self passion and appetites, and citizens of all ages must understand such inclinations, understanding both vices and virtues.
There’s risk in combating wrongdoing, opposing evil, and doing good. It inevitably interrupts one’s quotidian routine. Only so many days are allotted to all. Redeem them wisely. John Greenleaf Whittier’s resplendent quote’s worth repeating, “For all sad words of tongue and pen. The saddest are these, ‘It might have been.’” Proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to an increasingly secular culture. It’s not a social tonic. It’s transforming. Avoid the adumbral life. Who among us remembers the “Shadow Boxing Champion of the World?” Get into the ring. Liberty isn’t grasped by proclamation, but heroic exertions by a few brave, common souls. What do you think?
Mike Pyatt’s a Natrona County resident. His email’s firstname.lastname@example.org