It is easy for us to assume that people are either insane or sane. In fact, the sane and the insane or only the extreme ends of a spectrum. Insane people are simply further gone than the rest of us. Saints are at the other end of the spectrum and are truly whole, truly human and truly completed works of the divine art.
One of the marks of true insanity is that the insane person doesn’t realize they are insane. That’s why they have to be carted off forcefully. Further down the spectrum are all those who are insane or deranged or imbalanced in some way in one area of their life or another. We can think of those poor souls who are perfectly okay in every other way, but they are obsessive about some conspiracy theory or they hold to some kooky perspective on something. Maybe they have an addiction or a secret perversion in their lives. Maybe through bitterness and resentment their hearts and minds are poisoned and they bear a grudge and end up acting and speaking irrationally.
We don’t know where we’re crazy. We don’t know what we don’t know. We are blind to our blind spot. Furthermore, the more distorted our vision of reality is, the more we can’t see the insanity of other people.
We’re all stumbling around in the dark, feeling our way forward. It really is the blind leading the blind.The insanity is all around us but because the whole world has gone insane we consider it normal. In such a world those who are truly sane are the ones who are considered mad.
Look at the political culture in which we live. People consider same sex marriage to be a wholesome thing. We load ourselves up with pills of all sorts to alter our personalities and create an artificially happy world. We undergo surgery and think it is okay for people to change sex through medication and mutilation.
The insanity is also there in many more ordinary ways. I thought of this some time ago when attending a high school volleyball game and some parents were foaming at the mouth with rage over an umpire’s call. I admit that I am no athlete and I find the hysterics and dramatics and high passion of the devotee to be bizarre. I always bite my tongue when I’m tempted to say, “It’s only a game!” lest they turn their ire from the referee to me and I end up with a black eye. Suddenly I saw that there for a moment those people were crazy. Crazy as loons, and if their behavior continued unrestrained they would be locked up. They soon calmed down and were ‘normal’ again, but for that moment they were insane. Then I remembered how mad I got when somebody cut me off on the expressway….
This insanity I’m talking about is everywhere. Consider our greed. How crazy is it to live the affluent vulgar lives we lead in a world of starving children? Consider our anger. How crazy is it to be angry at all the people and events in the world that we are angry about when we can do nothing about it? Consider our narrow, religious fortress mentality. How crazy is it to huddle down with other people who believe like we do and get together and point our fingers at all the ‘sinners’ outside and imagine we’re good only because we’ve made them bad?I could go on.
We’re crazy. All of us. If insanity is a skewed perception of reality or losing a grip on reality, then all of us are at least partially looped at least some of the time. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not pointing fingers. I’m raising my hand. I’m a fruit loop too….
In contrast consider the saints. Their purity and humility and goodness and faith and humor and love and goodness and energy is simply sanity. It is an absolutely firm and unrelenting grip on reality. It is remorseless in it grip on reality. It is refreshing and beautiful and inspiring and true.Is there a patron saint of the insane? Perhaps it could be dear sweet Therese. She had the purity and sanity of a child. This is sanity: sanctity. The saints are totally real and uncompromisingly honest. They have a grip–a grip on reality, a grip on themselves and a grip on God.
For some time now I’ve had the idea of writing a stage play called The Big Moustache and the Little Girl. It would be about St Therese and poor old Nietzsche trapped in an elevator. It would be a study in contrasts–atheism and trust in the good God. Insanity and sanctity. I’ve done all the research. Now I just need to get busy and stop procrastinating…….and procrastinating…that’s another kind of insanity right?
May the Lord have mercy.