…And He Was Frightened


…And He Was Frightened

From Point of View, December 2021 – I cannot improve on it.

The phrase “In Hoc Anno Domini” refers to the conversion of St. Paul on the road to Damascus. Every year, on Christmas Eve, the Wall Street Journal reprints an editorial under that title written for its pages in 1949 by Vermont Royster. It doesn’t mention Christmas, per se, but is perhaps the most striking Christmas message of all. I recommend it to you.

It tells the story of Saul of Tarsus and his experiences on the road to Damascus.  It reminds us that at that time the entire known world was at peace, but at what cost? There were no wars, the legions were in place to keep order. There was stability, the long arm of Rome and its enforcers ensured that. Sure there was oppression, but you could be spared that if you were friends of Caesar. But the entire world was enslaved. As Royster put it: “What was a man but to serve Caesar?”

There was the persecution of men who dared think differently, who heard strange voices or read strange manuscripts. There was enslavement of men whose tribes came not from Rome, disdain for those who did not have the familiar visage. And most of all, there was everywhere a contempt for human life. What, to the strong, was one man more or less in a crowded world?

Sound familiar? Tyrants have through the ages been enforcing their will on people everywhere. But something was different during the reign of Tiberius Caesar. A presence from Galilee, who preached to his followers for only about three years. A presence that struck so much fear in Rome that the word came out that he must be silenced. And so he was.

But Saul of Tarsus heard his words on that dusty road to Damascus and he was frightened. He knew the power of the dark forces that ruled the land. He feared the return of those forces…

Then might it come to pass that darkness would settle again over the lands and there would be a burning of books, and men would think only of what they should eat and what they should wear, and would give heed only to new Caesars and to false prophets. Then might it come to pass that men would not look upward to see even a winter’s star in the East, and once more, there would be no light at all in the darkness.

And so Paul, the apostle of the Son of Man, spoke to his brethren, the Galatians, the words he would have us remember afterward in each of the years of his Lord:

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

At this time of year, all of us at Parking Today wish everyone, Christian and Jew, Muslim and Buddhist, believer and non, a most wonderful, magical, and happy holiday season. Merry Christmas, one and all.

The Consequences of the Status Quo

I think the consequences of the status quo come in two flavors. First, maintaining the status quo in business can be anathema. It means no change; everything remains the same. This can be horrific when applied to how businesses grow and prosper. We need fresh ideas, we need new thoughts, we need pivoting when necessary.

Second, is the status quo as it relates to the individual. If someone is comfortable in their life, who am I to change it? As long as it doesn’t affect others, let them alone.

Today, we hear that the folks in Florida “got what they deserved” because they built their cities where hurricanes happen. I guess my answer to this is, “Why do you care?” What business is it of yours where I live, what I do, as long as it doesn’t involve others? If I elect to live on the San Andreas Fault and expect “the big one,” why should you care? If you elect to live in cities that are fraught with crime and homelessness, that’s your business.

Some people live in climes that have storms every year. Flooding takes out homes and businesses every year, yet they rebuild in the same place. Is it possible they like it there? It is their home. They thrive on it.

In Martin Cruz Smith’s great detective story Gorky Park, Moscow police detective, Arkady Renko, ends up in the U.S. to solve the crime. Other American detectives offer to help him get citizenship here. After all, when he returns to Russia he will face censure by his superiors, plus live in a totalitarian country, not to mention the horrendous weather in Moscow. He responds that he will go home. Russia is his home, his Rodina, his homeland. It is where he lives, and where he will die. I may not understand his choices, but I do understand his desires. His status quo.

If our country, our economy, our businesses continue to grow, we need change. We need to look ‘status quo’ straight in the eye and say, ‘aside villain, you won’t stop us.’

However, as individuals, we need to look, I think, at our lives and decide what’s important. Status Quo can give us a center, a way to understand ourselves, and if we like it, why change it? Folks live in the path of a hurricane and weigh the chances of destruction with fantastic weather, the nearness of friends, the ability to live uncomplicated lives, and perhaps own a slice of America. Their Status Quo was to them, worth the risk.

In Gorky Park, the American detective couldn’t imagine not living in the U.S., and certainly couldn’t imagine preferring Russia. Arkady Renko couldn’t imagine the opposite.

We sometimes criticize the ‘crazy old guy’ who lives alone and prefers to be left alone. Kids make fun of him; adults talk about him at parties and across the back fence. But he’s doing no harm. A colleague tells me that we cannot know what weight others carry. Maybe their status quo helps them to bear that weight.

Article contributed by:
John Van Horn
Only show results from:

Recent Articles

Send message to

    We use cookies to monitor our website and support our customers. View our Privacy Policy