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  • Godwin Cotter

According to legend, the early British monarch, King Canute (reigning from 1016 to 1035) had his throne transported to the seashore. Then he regally sat on his throne and commanded the tide not to come in. The tide did not obey. Fortunately, the British royals of today have grown beyond such public displays of narcissism, (the frequent public spats William, Harry, Charles, Camilla, Kate and Megan notwithstanding). It is possible that King Canute was only trying to illustrate his own mortality to his flattering sycophant courtiers, (think of today's celebrity obsessed tabloids and the paparazzi). But regardless, the King Canute incident provides us with that lesson that reality will not obey our commands, even if we get our likeness on all the coins of the land.

Still the King Canute folly gets significant replay in our day to day lives. How many times do I tell myself, "This is my last potato chip". Before I know it the whole bag has disappeared. When we form emotional attachments to anything; potato chips, illusions of control, ideological positions or forbidden fruit, our grasp of reality can be compromised. The emotional attachment overrides our thinking. "One more potato chip will secure my happiness, it will make my life complete, the existential void inside me will be satiated finally and forever." We fall for the deception. We are willfully deceived.

Which brings us to the latest shock development in The Rise of Nothing. Caped superhero wannabe, Logic Girl, ends up getting a lifetime ban from the ubiquitous news station, Slant 24-7. Essentially she is cancelled for speaking truth. One wonders do such things happen only in comic book universes or do they happen in the modern world?

In comic book universes, the narcissist super-villain politician (Lex Luthor, Senator Stern, etc.) can't help themselves, they are addicted to power the way druggies are addicted to heroin. Politicians' will to power is like the uncontrollable lust compelling me to demolish a bag of potato chips. While I can't trust anything I tell myself during a junk food feeding frenzy, neither can one trust anything that comes out of a slick comic book politician's mouth on his power quest. Their assurances of having the best interests of the citizenry at heart are lies, equally so are the flowery professions of altruistic motivations. Only in the last chapter, when the super-villain politician thinks he has won, will he launch into a reveal-all monologue and finally tell the truth as opposed to trying to repress it.

In the Bible, often the powerful try and cancel those who contradict their chosen narratives. The addicts can't help themselves, they use compulsion and the powers of state to maintain the primacy of their narrative. In Numbers 14, the nation of Israel picks up stones in the desert to cancel Joshua, Caleb and Moses for daring to oppose their narrative of despair. In Jeremiah 38, the princes of Jerusalem cancel Jeremiah by throwing him into a cistern. Jeremiah has been contradicting their narrative of false hope, the assumption that God would save His people from the Babylonians without their repentance or return to God's law. John the Baptist is ultimately cancelled for telling Herod that it was unlawful for him to have his brother's wife. Jesus told a parable of the tenants of a vineyards, who told themselves the lie that if they could kill the heir, and the vineyard would be theirs. After hearing this and similar parables the chief priests and Pharisees tried to have Jesus arrested but were unable to because the crowds held him to be a prophet. Later the Pharisees ask Jesus questions, not to gain enlightenment but rather to trap the Christ into saying something that could be twisted into sounding seditious or blasphemous. What is common in these stories is that when people don't like what they are hearing, they often try and cancel the speaker. They try and cancel truth.

King Canute could sit on his throne for 12 hours a day and declare that the tides obey him, but eventually the tide will come in. Eventually Joshua does lead the Israelites to the Promised Land, burying the narrative of despair. Likewise, Jeremiah's prophecies came true. We may have to wait, but God promises are as inevitable as the high tides. We'd best heed the message of the Gospels, "Repent, the Kingdom of heaven is near at hand." The ultimate reality is coming and it promises to be joyous and everlasting for those who are on the side of truth and hear God's voice with endurance.

Okay, in the Bible and in some comic books, villains try and suppress the truth, but does that happen today? Are we forced to follow the script of society's dominant narrative? I don't know for sure, but some things give me pause. Recently the Ontario College of Psychologists came out demanding that Jordan Peterson follow their script . Failure to comply will lead to them revoking his license. To tell you the truth, I never did like Peterson's assertion that you should make your bed every morning if you want to be a good person. But should Canada's most famous psychologist lose his license for, granted, controversial views that some of us don't want to hear? I fear that if Peterson can be cancelled, many others can be cancelled. Truth might become an unintended casualty. Wouldn't it be better to tolerate diversity of thought? Why not let even the most annoying of gadflies have their say? We don't have to believe everything we read. Jordan Peterson's books can't force me to make my bed in the morning, I am a fully grown autonomous adult, by gosh and by golly.

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