You know what sucks? This whole “Duck Dynasty” conundrum—that’s what.
I don’t even watch the show, but I’ve been reading blogs and articles about it like it’s my job—and because that’s all the internet seemed to care about last week—and the whole situation is just out of hand. My Facebook wall blew up. Comment threads from here to Timbuktu. Argument-building and argument-demolishing out my ears.
But it’s hard to look away, at least for me. Because these are my people. Lots of Christians up-in-arms, coming to the defense of their duck-demolishing, beard-bursting brothers. And lots of the left-leaning WordPress-diplomats hauling out tweet-sized megaphones to fire away a chorus of “bigotry” and “live-and-let-live.” There were a few reasonable people, too.
They’re all my people, you know? Both sides. To one guy I want to say, “Yeah, I see your point.” But then his digital foe fires back and I think, “Yeah, that too.” And the duel rages, and everyone and their mother lends their 140 characters, and I end up putting my head down: “Wait. Don’t say that. No, no, no.
And that’s why it’s so brutal. Because there is a lot of nastiness and misrepresentation and my-way-or-the-highway from all directions.
After four or five days of it, I just felt let down. I felt disappointed. Because there are so many little issues involved that tunnel-vision just ignores, and very few minds are changed, and nobody looks good in the end.
Some of you may not think it’s fair, but maybe some will: Phil Robertson let me down. A&E let me down. The Bible-thumpers let me down. The tolerance-thumpers let me down. The bloggers let me down. The tweeters and commenters and memers let me down.
Not that any of them were out to impress me. Not that they care what I think. But all the same, they got me a bit blue.
And while I’m on the subject of letdowns, how about those athletes? Tim Tebow to TO—nobody’s perfect. And the politicians. Man, even the good ones aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. And the pop stars. Remember how innocent they were? Remember how people said, “Those Jonas Brothers and their purity rings!” And Miley Cyrus, well, if you can believe it, kinda let me down.
And it doesn’t end with famous people. The potential—the guarantee—for a moment of deflation, of detonation, of letdown, is there for everybody. Coworkers. Friends. Family.
I’m scared for what’s going to happen when Pope Francis lets us down. One of these days, even Jennifer Lawrence is going to go off or say something other than the just-right thing. And if J-Law, if this gem incarnate Katniss Everdeen, whose perfection is actually in her Everywoman imperfection, can’t live up to the perfection demanded by our time and place—by Everywhere and Always—what hope is there for we mortals?
Oh yes, let’s not forget me.
I’m going to let you down if I haven’t already. With a blog post or the lack of a blog post. With a coarse word or a word not coarse enough. With treachery or greed or any one of my million parasitic sins.
I’m going to let you down. And if I don’t, it’s only because you weren’t paying attention—so thank you for that. But I’ve let myself down, so the game is up anyway.
So, what’s the point?
The point is, tear down those idols, the ones made cash or health or feeling good. The ones made of flesh, who wield duck calls and shotguns, or makeup and an Academy Award. The ones who write down or rise up or speak out.
You can still like it—or he or she—but you can’t like it the most. Because it’s sinking sand. Because it will disappoint eventually. Or you’ll be in denial about it disappointing you. Or you’ll be a disappointment to it.
So remove it from that place reserved for the highest and best and coolest.
And replace it with somebody who won’t disappoint, who won’t let you down. If you don’t know where to start, start with the dude whose birthday we celebrated yesterday. He’s a pretty cool cat, and he’s throwing a perfect game.
After a few years spent correcting grammatical errors and writing subtle, clever headlines in a Chicago newsroom, Griffin Paul Jackson (’11) now does aid work with refugees in Lebanon. He writes about that, God, and, when the muse descends, Icelandic sheep. Read him here: griffinpauljackson.com.