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Reality Perception: A sane person to an insane society must appear insane

An oft-repeated quote attributed to Star Trek’s Mr. Spock observed that “in an insane world, a sane man must appear insane.” The statement is actually based on what Kurt Vonnegut Jr. wrote, “a sane person to an insane society must appear insane” in Welcome to the Monkey House. John Pavlovitz expands on that feeling in this essay.

I know what you’re thinking. I know you feel something breaking inside lately; an invisible fracture that only you’re fully aware of.

I know the way you walk away from conversations with people you once relied on for wisdom and clarity and compassion, doubting your own sanity because you no longer recognize those things in them. I know the way you feel internally estranged from the friends, coworkers, family members, and neighbors you used to find affinity with—and you wonder if you’re losing your mind.

I understand how you stare at the perpetual parade of horrible scrolling past you, from the second you wake up prematurely in the early morning until the stretched out nighttime moments you try unsuccessfully to fall asleep—and how you question the grip you have on reality.

I know the disbelief you feel in the presence of loved ones and ministers and leaders who now seem to be speaking some strange foreign tongue that you can’t make any sense of. I hear the nagging question you ask inside your head a few hundred times a day: “Is it me, or has a huge portion of this country lost its mind?”

It isn’t you.

You’re quite fine, and this is of course both good and terrible news—because of what it says about you and about the place you find yourself.

The fact that you see how wrong this all is, means your faculties are intact, your mind is fully right, and your heart is working properly. It’s all confirmation that you still have a soul doing what souls are supposed to do: keeping you deeply human in profoundly inhumane times.

This is why you need to hold tightly to that soul because it is more rare and valuable than ever. It’s why you need to embrace this holy unrest in the center of your belly; because it is the greatest weapon against the present epidemic of apathy. It’s why you can’t allow your right mind to make peace with such abject madness.

If enough time passes, an otherwise healthy person can start to get used to sickness. They can slowly begin to convince themselves that almost any horrifying, toxic, painful, twisted reality is acceptable. Little by little they can gradually allow themselves to acclimate to the nightmare, to come to see it as normal. Either that, or they determine that they’re actually out of their minds and they collapse inside. This is a reminder that this is not at all normal and that you are right to feel this disorientation.

I need you to hear this, friend: You’re okay. You’re not alone and you’re not crazy. You’re also in good company.

Right now there is a massive army of similarly walking wounded sharing this place with you; fellow exhausted souls who realize that none of this makes any sense—people concluding that for their health, they will need to create distance from people they once allowed close proximity. There are millions of good people out here still looking to be the kind of people the world needs; those committed to doing no harm, burdened to bring something decent where it is missing.

There are many of us who see clearly: This President is not well. He is not normal. His behavior and his words and his demeanor are all unhinged, dangerous, and wholly unworthy of his lofty position. We can see that this is a bastardization of humanity, a rebellion against goodness, a mutiny against sanity. We can see that those sanctioning and defending and co-signing it are equally unwell, equally disconnected from anything benevolent, similarly propelled by fear and greed and bitterness.

And that’s why we need to keep resisting it. You need to pushback against the madness that tries to convince you that you’re mad. ou need to press on, because in days when hatred is normalized, goodness matters.

In times when truth and news are pliable, truth-tellers are worth more than gold. You’re not upside down right now, friend—a good portion of the world is. But be greatly encouraged.

Loving resistance is a world-turner.

John Pavlovitz

Jerry Groschke

Originally published on johnpavlovitz.com as No, It’s Not You. This is Crazy.

John Pavlovitz launched an online ministry to help connect people who want community, encouragement, and to grow spiritually. Individuals who want to support his work can sponsor his mission on Patreon, and help the very real pastoral missionary expand its impact in the world.

About The Author

John Pavlovitz

John Pavlovitz is a 20-year ministry veteran trying to figure out how to love people well and to live-out the red letters of Jesus, both online in this global community.

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