Where are the Lions? Where are they Sleeping?

Pat Conroy, writing in “The Prince of Tides” about the 21st Century — thinking (mistakenly) he was writing of the 20th:

“Patrick Flaherty was the perfect manifestation of the modern American man. I listened in amazement as he began to speak, anesthetized by his heroic, unblemishable command of every cliche in the language. His tongue was a hermitage for banality. Every movement he made and every word was buttery with condescension. He was the quintessential organization man and all his i’s were dottted and all his sentences were diagrammed by a portentous vacuity. Clean and supple and lacking in all vestiges of compassion, Patrick Flaherty stood before us as an eyesore on our aberrant, hallucinating century. His voice flooded the gymnasium with a whole lottery of statistics. It was a coppery, inanimate voice and all the words seemed dusted with bright and deadly notes of silica. In silence, we listened as he explained how our town was going to be moved house by house and brick by brick.”


… “Soon they will turn our beautiful town into a place dedicated to the destruction of the universe. And I have not heard a single man or woman from this town say ‘No.’ I keep asking myself, ‘How many sheep can one town produce?’ I keep asking myself, ‘Where are the lions? Where are they sleeping?’

Since the announcement by the federal government that they were going to steal my town, I’ve done what any Southerner would do: I’ve turned to the Bible for solace and strength. I’ve tried to find in the Bible some message that would give me comfort during this time of distress. I’ve looked to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah to see if I could find some comparison between those two wicked cities and Colleton. Now, I admit to you I found nothing. Colleton is a town of gardens and pleasure boats and church bells on Sunday. It is not evil in any way that I can judge evil. Its only fault that I can see is that it produced people who didn’t love her enough, people who would sell her to strangers for thirty pieces of silver. So I kept reading the Bible, hoping to find a message from God that would grant me succor during the wrath of the Philistines. Because, if I don’t try to save the one town in the world I truly love, then I want God to turn me into a pillar of salt because I did not look back. I would rather be a lifeless pillar of salt in Colleton than a Judas Iscariot covered with gold and the blood of his hometown anywhere else in the world.”



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