Nearly everyone in my generation is familiar with the story of Rip Van Winkle. This tale written by Washington Irving in 1819 describes a Dutch American named Rip who fell deeply asleep after drinking some magical liquor. He awoke 20 years later to a very changed world, having missed the American Revolution and other important developments.
Picture how such a story would have unfolded today. If the 2023 Rip fell asleep in 2003, he certainly would be baffled by the drastic changes that took place during the 20 years when he was sleeping. It would seem as if America had undergone another “revolution” – but not a good one this time.
When Rip fell asleep in 2003, America was trying to weed out terrorism in Afghanistan and rid the world of “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq. So he asked his friend Roger how those things were going.
“Afghanistan turned out to be a nightmare,” Roger informed him glumly. “When the United States exited in 2022 after 20 years, the country fell right back into the hands of the Taliban. They quickly returned to their murderous ways, and we left behind many allies and billions of dollars of our best military equipment.”
Rip found this astonishing. “The American leaders who allowed such a tragedy must have been terribly incompetent” he concluded. “But at least we got rid of the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, didn’t we?”
Once again, Rip’s friend had some surprising news. “We never actually found any weapons of mass destruction, Rip. The intelligence community misled us, and thousands of people died as a result.”
“Oh my, that’s horrible,” Rip responded. “But thankfully we’re finally out of those misguided wars.”
“Yes, Rip, we eventually withdrew from Afghanistan and Iraq, but with nothing good to show from our efforts. However, now it looks like we’re gearing up for involvement in a war against Russia,” Roger informed him.
“You must be joking!” Rip said. “How in the world could that happen? Russia is a huge nuclear power, and we were finally at peace with them after many decades of cold war.”
“Last year Russia invaded Ukraine, figuring we had weak leaders and would do nothing to stop them. Although we’ve supplied over $100 billion dollars in weapons to support Ukraine, the war shows no signs of ending. No one is winning except the U.S. Military Industrial Complex.”
Flooded with all this bad news, Rip felt a migraine coming on. But he remembered that he could always turn to sports news to numb his pain when world events became too upsetting. So he changed the subject, hoping to hear something more uplifting.
“What’s new in the world of sports these days?” he asked Roger.
“You wouldn’t believe it, Rip,” his friend replied. “Men are now competing in women’s sports!”
“Unbelievable,” Rip said. “That’s crazy and unfair – even evil. Who could be in favor of such a thing?”
“It’s all part of the transgender movement,” Roger explained.
Rip, quite confused, asked, “What do you mean by transgender? I’ve never heard of such a thing. I thought people were born with one of just two genders, either male or female.”
“Some men have decided to ‘transition’ and identify as women,” Roger continued. “They’re insisting on changing their pronouns, and many are getting surgery to change their genitalia. In some schools, five-year-olds are asked whether they want to be a boy or a girl.”
“That’s insane!” Rip said, incredulous. “When I was five years old, I wanted to be a cowboy or an astronaut. I surely wasn’t mature enough to make life-altering decisions about my gender.”
As the conversation continued, Roger brought Rip up to date on numerous other issues, such as America’s open southern border, rampant inflation, the push to end fossil fuels, and the rising conflict between China and Taiwan. These mind-blowing developments had all been building while Rip was asleep. The news caused his headache to intensify.
Searching for something pleasant to look forward to, Rip told his friend, “I’m grateful for all your help, Roger, but I think the best thing for me right now is to get away for a vacation to one of my favorite cities – New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles.”
“Rip, I’m not really sure you want to do that,” Roger warned him. “Those cities are now plagued by widespread crime and violence. Police have been ‘defunded,’ and prosecutors no longer hold criminals accountable for their crimes.”
At this point, the 2023 Rip Van Winkle was so distressed that he wanted to take another 20-year nap. But then he realized that his beloved America might not survive if he slept for another 20 years.
Running out of other options, Rip found a nearby chapel where he went to spend some time in earnest prayer. “God, I was asleep for far too long. Now that I’m awake, I need You to empower me with a plan to stem the tide of insanity and turn things around.”
Stay tuned to see how this story ends…
Amazing insight presented with an interesting twist. America has certainly been asleep or blinded during these past years. Without God’s intervention our nation is lost. So sad.
Fascinating how in 20 years life changes. Unfortunately, modern day Rip Van Winkle sees one year of change in a single day.
Thank you for this very thought provoking commentary. Pray for our country.
Well written, Jim. It is so profoundly real yet seems almost crazy far fetched. I love ole’ Rip’s prayer in your story. What a call to petition the very throne of heaven for wisdom as I see no way to stem the tide without God’s intervention. Very thought provoking.