Iconoclast: A wrecker of idols, a mocker of tradition and a scorner of conventional wisdom. Are you one?
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We’re living in strange and troubling times. Maybe it’s the brutal heat that has tempers aflame. Something has lit the match, for sure. The national mood has been turning ugly lately, maybe a reflection of entrenched power-mad hubris that struts its pompous self shamelessly on digital screens everywhere.
Wildfires and floods, heat waves and Delta, finger pointing and pouting, inflation and infrastructure. The incessant sound bites competing for who can scream the loudest. What are we to make of this, how do we get a grip? It’s time for a consult with The Iconoclast.
Now from empirical observation The Iconoclast appears no different than anyone, just another pilgrim crying in the wilderness to no one listening. But looks are deceiving. If the brain were removed and dissected, it would vibrate in constant and mortal conflict with all accepted orthodoxy.
I find him sitting in his office, ill-tempered and sulking on the re-masking and vaccine mandates being imposed by authorities of dubious distinction and credentials.
He wastes no time setting the stage for contrary opinion. “Sit down, your brain needs the blood, not your feet. Can you believe this, a $100 bucks bribe to get vaccinated? What a joke.”
“Not enough?” I ask.
“You kidding? The country is full of holdouts, misfits and failures, just looking for something free, working the system. They’ll hold out for a big bribe. A grand at least. What can I do for you?”
“Some perspective of the times. Pro bono.”
“Sure. Worth what you pay for it.”
“What’s the skeptic’s view of mandates?”
“Simple. Read between the lines. Why all this obfuscation over vaccinations and your health? Managing 335 million people isn’t easy. Have you ever received a get-well card from government? It’s about money and control. Ignore the divisive narratives. Peel back the onion, get to the core. It’s money. Your money, their control.”
“Look, the government’s broke. Medicare is today’s Titanic. Trillions unfunded. It’s pay as you go now. So, you gotta stay healthy, keep working, pay your taxes. Confiscation is coming.”
“Mandates are unconstitutional, right?”
“Just conversation, pal. Government can make everything constitutional to suit its needs. They’ll rename it, give it a harmless household word. It’s a ruse, a diversion to let you think you still have freedom of choice. You have no choice. Mandates will happen, one way or another.”
“How did you get to be known as The Iconoclast?”
“Everybody’s known for something. You have to look twice at things to see them. Problem with being an iconoclast is your opinions often clash with cherished ideas. You can get unpopular real quick. I have been called a heretic, but I have never denigrated religious symbols. Everybody believes something, and to violate one’s religious beliefs is crossing the line.”
“What sets iconoclasts apart from others?”
“An iconoclast is an artist, a creator, someone who sees things differently and who calls into being that which was not as though it already were. Alchemy, my friend.”
“Give me an example.”
“Van Gogh, Jesus, Einstein, MLK. Even Kerouac. They were iconoclasts, saw things their way. Good company to be in. Only Vincent was mad, and Kerouac picked up on that: ‘The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk that burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles.”
“What defines an iconoclast?”
“We have a healthy distrust of all public opinion, especially polls and conventional wisdom. To criticize anything, anybody, especially authority, is to invite pushback. But then you’ve hit the nerve you wanted.”
“Like being a free thinker, right?”
“Well, you have to be careful with non-conforming free thinking. It’s quicksand. You can sink in a hurry and be perceived as downright dangerous. Fear is the shadow of free thinkers. They step on the toes of entrenched status quo because change follows them like new wine. Fresh ideas are dangerous. But look, free thinking is the source of the only real freedom we have left.”
“What about street protesters, activists?”
“There are varieties of iconoclasts. The violent ones who throw stones for attention and the pontificators, the ones with wild, glittering eyes who preach crazy conspiracy theories of doom and gloom. Both are short-lived charlatans. True iconoclastic thinking is an art. It is the fuse that lights the dynamite.”
“Should we always play by the rules?”
“Ah, yes, that’s the rub, isn’t it? Whose rules?”
* * *
Iconoclast or not, that’s a good question to ponder in these strange and troubled times.
August 2, 2021